By Ken Robinson, PhD, with Lou Aronica (Viking, 2009)
Most of us have a knack for underestimating ourselves and our capacity for doing great things. According to renowned innovation and creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson (knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts), this is because alarmingly few of us are ever encouraged to explore or commit to the territory where our natural skills and talents and our greatest passions overlap. Robinson refers to this convergence as “The Element,” and he explains that when we are “in our element,” we tend to perform at extraordinary levels and achieve all manner of great things. Full of anecdotes about the surprising paths by which various greats (including ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, physicist Richard Feynman and many others) discovered their gifts, The Element offers clear guidance for locating one’s own authentic talents and satisfactions. The book also advocates powerfully for creativity and flexibility in education and industry. Smart, surprisingly funny and full of well-researched advice, this book is a great read for anyone interested in nurturing his or her own personal potential — and in seeing the best potential in others.