90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The ‘Quest’ To ‘Find Your Element’

Life can get routine — wake up, go to work, make dinner, go to sleep, rinse, repeat. But what about time for your interests? What about the things you really want to do?

We recently spoke to Sir Ken Robinson about this very tension.

You probably recognize his name because he gave one of the most watched TED Talks of all time:

During our conversation, Robinson talked about his latest book, “Finding Your Element: How To Discover Your Talents And Passions And Transform Your Life” (read an excerpt).

He emphasized the importance of understanding your own talents and abilities, harnessing your own creativity and using that self-awareness to sculpt a fulfilling life.

In particular, he talked about how finding your element is a two-way journey — or quest, as he likes to say — both internal and external:

Our lives aren’t linear. We create our life according to the talents that we find within ourselves, the interests that drive us, and everybody ends up having a unique resume. If we create our life, we can recreate it. Part of my argument in the book is that we owe it to ourselves to look deep inside to see what talents we really do have. Often, human talents are like the world’s natural resources. They’re buried under the ground; you don’t know that they’re there until you go actively searching for them and try to develop them.

There is obviously a balance between talent and passion…Broadly speaking, it’s this: It’s a two-way journey. Actually, no — the word I use in the book is “quest.”

“Quest” is a very interesting idea to me because if you take a journey, a regular journey, you might know where you’re heading to. You’re setting off from Boston to San Francisco. You know where it is and you know when you’ll get there. But some journeys aren’t like that. You set off hopefully, often, though, not completely sure what you’re looking for — that’s what the word “quest” is. It’s a medieval term. It’s where you’re setting out to find something with a purpose and an intention, but you’re not quite sure where it is and you hope to find it. Finding your element is like that.

I say in the book it’s a two-way journey — it’s a journey inside to spend more time with ourselves. A lot of people in my experience don’t know enough about themselves, about their talents or their abilities. I meet all kinds of adults who tell me they haven’t got any special talents at all, they don’t have any particular passions or interests, and I just don’t believe it. I think there are plenty of people who haven’t found them, who haven’t known where to look — it’s one of the problems with education that we get steered away from them. So there are a whole series of exercises in the book to help people reflect on their own talents, things they’re good at, whether they really know what they’re good at. And there’s a whole set of exercises about understanding how your passions come about.

And it’s an external journey in the world around you and to find new experiences and new opportunities. It’s those two things and how they come together that I try to map out for people in the book.

Read more highlights from our interview with Robisnon.

WEIGH IN: How have you accommodated your passions into your life? How do you make time to pursue them?

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jan 26, 2015
Yemeni protesters gather during a demonstration to show their support to Houthi Shiite rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015.  (AP)

Yemen in turmoil, a new king in Saudi Arabia. We’ll look at what’s next for the Arabian Peninsula. Plus: the President’s trip to the Indian subcontinent.

Jan 26, 2015
Frederick Daniel Hardy's "Baby's Birthday" (1867) shows a typical Victorian English family at home.  (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Brush your teeth with soot, stay away from water, wear a steel corset. We’ll talk with the author of “How to be a Victorian.” Strange ways from another age.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jan 23, 2015
People enter the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colo., Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. The jury selection process in the trial of Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes began Tuesday, and is expected to take several weeks to a few months. Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and wounding more than 50 in an Aurora movie theater in 2012 (AP)

The Marathon bombing, the Aurora movie theater shootings, and the challenges of picking an impartial jury.

 
Jan 23, 2015
A Cuban flag and an American flag stand in the press room during the second day of talks between U.S. and Cuban officials, in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP)

President Obama comes out swinging in his State of the Union. High level talks in Cuba. Japanese hostages. “American Sniper” controversy. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: January 23, 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

New thoughts on Facebook, new analysis of State of the Union twitter activity and new weekend excitement. New! And exciting!

More »
Comment
 
Meet On Point’s Interns: Spring 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

Good news! We have interns, and they are wonderful, and here they are for the spring term. Meet them digitally, right here.

More »
2 Comments
 
Caller To Author Ron Rash: ‘You Cared About People Like Me’
Thursday, Jan 22, 2015

An unexpected caller from South Carolina brings back guest Ron Rash’s years as a community college professor in a movingly real way.

More »
1 Comment