The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything (Penguin, 2009)

There are many examples of famous people who succeeded by finding their element, whether it be in the arts, sciences, social involvement or any other worthwhile human endeavour. The interesting thing is that in many respects the structures of formal society seemed stacked against these individuals being able to find their true creative talents. It took someone or some special circumstance to trigger the discovery of their element, that special space where they could be immersed in creative and innovative endeavour.

Society by default seems to work against people finding their element. For example the inappropriately designed education system that rigidly focuses on a hierarchy of subjects, standardised assessments and the deliberate segregation of materials into subjects can prevent development of the skills needed by society as a whole. Ken shows that in order to find our element we need to break free of the constraints imposed by contemporary society and education systems; and find our creative spirit “outside the box” so to speak.

I enjoyed this book; it is rich in the diverse examples provided and is presented with just enough humour to be entertaining and serious at the same time. The book gets easier as Ken builds the foundations. Ken ends this edition with a thought provoking plea for us to think differently about the challenges of population growth in a world of limited resources; a scenario that demands the most innovative solutions possible from each of us who have been able to find their element.

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