ARE YOU IN YOUR ELEMENT?

ARE YOU IN YOUR ELEMENT?

Which TED Talk has been viewed more than any other?

If you guessed correctly, you would have said Sir Ken Robinson’s – Do schools kill Creativity?

Following his recording, 10 years ago, he pumped out this week’s read: The Element – How finding your passion changes everything. Interestingly, Sir Ken is asking people to send him an email about the impact his TED talk has had on their lives.

This week's read: The Element

As I read The Element, I could hear Sir Ken’s voice on every page packed with a good dose of humour. It’s now a toned down English accent as he resides in sunny California – a big move from his humble beginning, being one of many siblings and being struck down with Polio at a young age. This adds great creditability to Sir Ken’s enthusiasm to take heed of his message and the story of his journey.

The format of The Element makes for an easy and interesting read – providing rich stories and research supporting the opportunity to apply the push to find the element lurking in your inner self … if you’re yet to locate it.

The Element – the place where the things we love to do and the thing we are good at come together.

The added bonus of this book is learning more about the many people who I have grown up with (well, they don’t know me, but I thought I knew them well). Living their youth filled with adversity, or parents who had different plans for their future and those who didn’t become famous until later in life. People like Vidal Sassoon, the man behind the Shampoo on the shelves of the supermarket. He said, “That the inconvenience of discipline, the structure in my young life, one of adversity, is what helped shape me and make me be successful and be in my element.

Sadly, too many people live other peoples’ lives. They don’t follow their passion, for various reasons, and succumb to living and behaving how others want them to be.

Many people put aside their passions to pursue things that they don’t care about for the sake of financial security.

Sir Ken examines many reasons why people don’t operate in their element, more instructions on how to get your element happening and a bucket load of data to support why you should get busy with your Element as he has overturned all excuses of why you wouldn’t and couldn’t.

Here’s a summary:

We are now more aware of our many intelligences; we’re not relying solely on IQ tests to determine our success. By exploring where our strengths lie, we will have more opportunity to discover what we love doing, and doing it well – which equates to your Element.

In Sir Ken’s TED talk, he focused on how schools stifle creativity and the need for parents to help their kids decide if education is the right path to follow to locate their Element. In his book, we delve into the power of the mind, imagining what you want to do and then taking it to the next level by being creative to make it happen

We are introduced to another great book, which is on my list to read, Flow, by Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – the text is referenced to suggest that we need to be skilled and invested in a goal to achieve a state of Flow or as we more commonly say ‘in the zone’. Many of us have experienced this feeling in sports - consider training for a Marathon: you know how to run, you know the distance which is required and you can run and run and feel no pain.

If you‘re a leader that encourages others to be in the flow and in their element, you are giving them energy. If you’re the opposite, you have a workplace which discourages people being in their element and in Flow, then you suck the energy (and creativity) out of them.

Circles of Influence aka your Tribes are required to help you achieve your Element. Hanging around with people who encourage you to be creative and be the real you, create the environment to operate at your best. Think of a great team, whether that be work or a sports team, they will testify that you were in your Element. Sadly, it is our closest tribe, our family, who often have other plans and priorities for us - preventing our achievement of our element.

How many square pegs in round holes have you encountered in your work life? I have met too many and sadly they cause too many of the dilemmas and dramas in workplaces. When people are in their Element, they require less management and leadership. I do blame managers in these situations – it takes good leadership to have helpful and challenging conversations to guide people to locate their element … elsewhere. At the same time, it’s a big price to pay to change. Resistance from friends, family and fans to leave a ‘good paying job’ to find your mojo elsewhere.

And help is needed on this journey of change in search of your Element. This help can be obtained from a Mentor. Mentors connect you to the right people, will be a part of your life and a critical influence in your Element search. If not a Mentor, search for your Hero’s – those who have saved you from a position or situation and put you on a better course. Either way, like having a tribe, you can’t do it alone – you need others in your life to be in your Element.

Being in your element often means being connected with other people who share the same passions and have a common sense of commitments.

I enjoyed learning about people who chose a different road in their life, later in their life. I am affronted with the thought of retirement. I’ve never considered stopping doing what I love doing. I often challenge myself to do new things and continue to learn. I’m always looking for the opportunity to change … to find a possible new element! You are in charge of your life. The only thing which is stopping you is in your head – your mind.

When we are in our element, we feel that we are meant to be doing what we’re doing and being who we are meant to be.

My favourite piece to read was the debate of the Professional and the Amateur – the professional gets paid for what they do and the role they fulfill whereas the amateur does not. The Amateur is passionate about what they do and doesn’t get the cash. Are you a professional or are you an amateur on the Element Continuum? How prepared are you to forfeit your money opportunities to fulfill the feeling of being in your element.

The final chapter in The Element links back to the TED Talk – discussing school systems. This makes sense as it’s in school that we heard ourselves say, “When I grow up, I want to be a ….” and when we’re in our final years of education, we’re less sure of our desires. It’s a terrible indictment on our Education system and I hope in the past ten years, we are on a better course to help our young people find their Element

I’d like to think that you’ve got this far reading my review and said Yes, I am in my element. However, I think not. It’s not easy to admit that you’re not happy ad unsatisfied with what you’re doing in your life. If there is any doubt, do something about it. If you are in your Element, then consider being a Mentor.

And do I recommend reading this book? Absolutely – we should all be involved in our and others’ Elements. I opened the first page The Element and a hundred books. Sir Ken was very generous with his research and writing, quoting, sharing and extracting the core value of so many other books which supports The Element. You should read it too.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

Communication - it's not about you!

It's OK to admit our mistakes - as much as it might hurt our ego, it's best to seek forgiveness than have the reputation of being a poor communicator.

The mistake made too frequently by most adults, including the person behind these words, is to communicate for our self opposed to our intended audience. Whether that audience be our team, our kids or a potential client.

Communication is a mammoth subject and  given we spend so many hours communicating - do you ever stop and consider, how effective we are at 'selling' our message ?

The specific mistake is 'using the wrong communication approach'. For example, if you get turned on by producing 50 PowerPoint slides with gorgeous diagrams, sound bites and fonts which you cram into 30 minutes and your audience prefer detail and discussion, then you've selected the wrong communication medium and matched the incorrect learning style.

I don't need to tell you how to do it right, you can 'Google that lesson' what I implore you to do is to think, feel and do understand the preference of the audience or at least vary your communication approach.

I attempt to incorporate three approaches whenever I communicate:

Think - provide information visually - screen, paper & audio and where possible send or make available the information which I plan to cover, ahead of time 

Feel -  use stories, incorporate their names & their stories which you've identified when asking them questions, and 

Do - engage their brain & bum - after 10 minutes people disengage.

TED got it right with the rule of  '18 minutes or less' - that's more than enough time to ask someone to listen to you without any interaction. And now we see everyone in the audience happily using their device while listening (partially) because that's their style of learning & listening! You might not like it - but it's not about you!

Many years ago, a Mentor of mine shared a priceless lesson which I wish I practised more often - Communication is a game: the winner talks least and encourages others to talk/do more!

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE?

What do you want to be?

Do you ask this question when you meet kids?

My kids generally get asked this question when they meet adults for the first time. I’m always surprised with the responses as it changes all the time! My daughter responded last week with “a sports teacher” and my son “a racing car driver”. It’s all relative to what’s happening ‘in’ the moment and what's '

I ask adults this same question! “What do you want to be?” And the general response is “I’m not sure!” Which is fair enough – as we are bombarded with so many changes, choices and options in our life – how does one keep focused on an idea?!

So, when I stumbled across a TED Talk by 13 year old Logan LaPlante I finally heard an excellent response to this question. It’s so simple and I know that most people want to respond with these words however their ego gets in the way!

The response: To be happy!

That then leads to the next question – What do you currently do that makes you happy? 

In leadership, it’s about asking these and many more questions during your conversations to help people achieve happiness doing what they do!