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Find & Ignite Your Passion

(taken from the book

Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life


Ken Robinson & Lou Aronica

. This article has been contributed by Pooja Dubey Srivastava . )
Two young fish are swimming down a river and an older fish swims past them in the opposite direction. He says. "Good morning, boys. How's the water?" They smile at him and swim on. Further up the river, one of the young fish turns to the other and says, "What's water?" He takes his natural element so much for granted that he doesn't even know he's in it. What is your element? The aim of this book is to help you find your Element.

Photo Courtesy : 'Shutterstock'.
Find & Ignite Your Passion

Being in your own Element is like doing something that feels so completely natural to you, that resonates so strongly with you, that you feel that this is who you really are. But being in your element is more than doing things you are good at. The aim of The Element was to encourage people to think differently about themselves and the lives they could lead.

Why is it important to find your Element?

First, finding your element is vital to understanding who you are and what you are capable of being and doing with your life. Second reason is social. Many people lack purpose in their lives. The evidence of this is everywhere: in the sheer numbers of people who are not interested in the work they do; in the growing numbers of students who feel alienated by the education systems; and in the rising use everywhere of antidepressants, alcohol and painkillers.

Human resources are like natural resources:  they are often buried beneath the surface and you have to make an effort to find them. On the whole, we do a poor job of that in our schools, businesses and communities. We pay a huge price for that failure. Finding your element may not solve all problems but will definitely help.

The third reason is economic. Being in your Element is not only about what you do for a living. Finding your Element is fundamentally about enhancing the balance of your life as a whole. Knowing what your Element will give you, a much better sense of direction, than simply bouncing from one job to the next. Whatever your age, it’s the best way to find work that really fulfils you.

If you are in the middle of your working life, you may be ready for a radical change and be looking for a way of making a living that truly resonates with who you are. If you are unemployed, there is no better time to look within and around yourself to find a new sense of direction. If you are retired, what else will you deliver on those promises to yourself? This is the perfect time to rediscover old enthusiasms.

The book The Element published earlier was not a guide but was intended to be inspiring and encouraging. But after publishing it, there came many questions from people:

•    What if I have no special talents?

•    What if I have no real passions?

•    What if I love something I’m not good at?

•    What if I’m good at something I don’t love?

•    What if I can’t make a living from my Element?

•    What if I have too many other responsibilities and things to do?

•    What if I’m too young?

•    What if I’m too old?

•    Do we only have one Element?

•    Is it the same throughout our lives, or does it change?

•    How will I know when I’ve found it?

•    What do I do to help my children find their Element?

There are answers to these questions, and as the success of that first book grew, Ken Robinson knew that he needed to offer them. Finding Your Element is a wholehearted attempt to do just that. So, whatever you do, wherever you are and no matter how old you are, if you are searching for your Element, this book is for you.

What’s in this book?

Finding Your Element is the natural companion and sequel to The Element. It builds on the core ideas of The Element and offers advice, techniques and resources to put those ideas into practice in your own life. There are five main thematic threads that weave throughout the whole book, each of which is intended to help you reflect and focus on finding your own Element.

    Ideas and Principles

    Stories and Examples

    Exercises

    Resources

    Questions

A personal Quest

Finding your Element is a personal quest. A quest is a search. Quests involve journeys, adventures and risks and in their nature the outcomes of a quest are uncertain. The quest for your Element is really a two-way journey. It is an inward journey to explore what lies within you; it is an outward journey to explore opportunities in the world around you. The aim of this book is to help you find your way.

Photo Courtesy : Shutterstock

Finding your element is a highly personal and often surprising process. Even so, there are some common principles that underlie this process that apply to everyone, and techniques and strategies that everyone can use. When you are in your Element, your sense of time changes. If you are doing something that you love, an hour can feel like five minutes; if you are doing something that you do not, five minutes can feel like an hour.

A Two-way Journey

You live in two worlds – one that came into being when you did which is the inner world of your consciousness; the other is external world of other people, of events, of circumstances and material things. This outer world was there long before you were born, and it will continue long after you have left it.

To find your Element, you have to explore both of these worlds. You need to fathom your own talents and passions and you need to look creatively at opportunities in the world around you to fulfil them. In practical terms, finding your Element involves three processes. You should try to practice each of them regularly because each will feed the other.

In the ordinary course of your life, you probably spend most of your time with other people – family and neighbours, friends and acquaintances and the people you work with. There are the few people you know intimately and the many that you know only in passing and all the ones in between. As you get older, you accumulate responsibilities and take on new roles. In any given day, you may switch between all of them, perhaps as a parent, as friend, lover or partner, as a student, a teacher, a breadwinner or dependent.

We also live in times of tremendous “noise” and distraction. The world is becoming increasingly turbulent. These distractions can be digital technology like laptops, tablets and smart phones that take a lot of time from us. When you add the noise of the external world to all the roles you take in it, it is easy to lose sight of who you really are. To find your Element, you need to regain that perspective.

One way is to create time and space to be alone with yourself and another method can be meditation. Meditation is more difficult than its popular image suggests. At first glance it all seems simple enough. Meditation is a process of calming your mind and dwelling in the quiet flow of your own being. The most common challenge in meditation is to stop thinking, which turns out to be one of the reasons for doing it. One of the aims of mediation is to reduce the mental static so that you can experience deeper levels of consciousness.

There are many ways to meditate. Some practices require mystical settings and improbable positions. Others do not. For some people, yoga is the best way. For others, simply taking time to breathe, relax and be quiet with themselves is enough to begin with.

Exercise One: Meditation

Photo Courtesy : Flickr / Nickolai Kashirin / Link1

•    If you can, sit comfortably with your back and shoulders straight but relaxed. Close your eyes.

•    Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it for a few seconds and slowly let it out.

•    As you do, try to focus your attention on the flow of your breath. Repeat this slowly four or five time.

•    Then breathe normally for a few minutes and try to keep focused on the feeling of your breathing.

•    As random thoughts come into mind – and they inevitably will – don’t try to stop them. Keep your focus on your breath, relax and just be.

•    After five minutes or so – then if you can manage it – open your eyes and relax quietly for another couple of minutes.

Change your Perspective

To find your Element, you may need to see yourself differently. We see the world around us from the world within us and each shapes our perspective on the other. As human beings, we do not always see the world directly; we interpret our experiences through patterns of ideas, values and beliefs. Some of these have to do with our own dispositions and some have to do with the cultures we’re part of and the times we live in. Your own attitudes and those of the people around you may help or hinder you in finding what your Element is and pursuing it.

You may think, for example, that you have no special aptitudes. You may think that you have no passions. You may have told yourself for a long time that you are not good at something that you would love to try and so you haven’t. Or you may be worried that if you do try you will fail and look foolish. Or you may think that the moment has passed to try something new.

Finding your Element may mean challenging other people’s assumptions about what you are capable of doing. You will have to reflect on your own natural aptitudes and on the experiences that you have been most drawn to in the past and on those that you would like to explore in future are an essential part of finding your Element. There are some exercises in the book that may help you do this. As you work through them, you can use many different modes of reflection: words, images, sounds, movement and all the many ways in which they combine. Here are three techniques that you may find especially helpful.

Mind Mapping

Photo Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons / Nicoguaro / Link1

Mind mapping is a visual technique for displaying or sorting information. You can have as many of these branching lines as you like and each of them may divide into two or more other lines of thought. Here are some principles of mind mapping:

•    Use single words or very short phrases for each line.

•    Use uppercase letters for key words and upper and lower case for others.

•    Each key word or image should have its own line.

•    Make the lines the same length as the word / image they support.

•    Make the lines flowing and curving rather than straight and angular.

•    As they radiate from the centre the lines should be thicker to begin with.

•    Use a variety of colours throughout the mind map.

Vision Boards

A vision board is a collage of images that reflect your aspirations, hopes and dreams. Creating a vision board can be relaxing, therapeutic and really enjoyable process. To make a vision board, sift through a selection of magazines that relate to your interests, hobbies and passions and cut out images, pictures and phrases that speak to you. You can also look for images online. Once you have your selection of images you have a few options. For the most common form of vision board, you glue or tape your pictures onto a large piece of poster board.

Photo Courtesy : Flickr / Nanette Saylor / Link1

There are many more exercises in the book that you can practice to find your element. They will help you discover your passion, will make you feel happier, and help you find your attitude. Most importantly, it will teach you to live a life of passion and purpose.

( This article has been contributed by Pooja Dubey Srivastava . Pooja Dubey Srivastava, an Engineer and MBA turned writer, has an experience of more than 5 years in corporate world, as a marketing manager and market researcher. She has helped various entrepreneurial organizations in areas of IT, education, real estate and Photography (Besides she being a free lance photographer herself), in preparing their marketing & training content and doing promotions. She has also prepared business plans, designed promotional materials for clients & did programming for simplifying office work. She has also trained young employees on computers, soft-skills and personality development. She has been guiding MBA aspirants in preparing for group discussions and personal interviews. She also creates research reports, dissertations, case studies and whitepapers. Besides writing , she is also a trainer for Microsoft Excel Software.  her official website for content writing and training is can also be reached on Facebook for regular updates on her work.  )

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For most of us the problem isn’t that we aim too high and fail - it’s just the opposite - we aim too low and succeed.
-- Ken Robinson
Ken Robinson & Lou Aronica
Ken Robinson is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources. He has worked with national governments in Europe and Asia, international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, national and state education systems, non-profit organizations and some of the world's leading cultural organizations. He was knighted in 2003 for his contribution to education and the arts.Lou Aronica is an American editor and publisher, primarily of science fiction. He co-edited the Full Spectrum anthologies with Shawna McCarthy.

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