When are you in your element?

Episode 12 of Part 1 of our Introduction series: Setting the stage for success.

Habits:  Know thyself | Be curious

Skills:  Passion | Self-awareness

Description:  This episode introduces Sir Ken Robinson's concept of The Element —as he describes it—the place where natural talent meets personal passion. We outline three distinct benefits that come from discovering your own element, and introduce an exercise to help you start to find yours.


How this lesson might be applied in the classroom

This episode further expands on the value of finding your passion, and explains Sir Ken Robinson's concept of being in 'Your Element', as he describes, "The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion." Given the requirement for 'your element' to require both talent and passion, this raises a number of questions for students to debate with regard to where their 'element' might lie.

Possible classroom discussion questions include:

  • Do you have something that is a natural talent and a personal passion in your life?

  • Do you think it matters if you have only one or the other of these things? Why/Why not?

  • Is it possible to be really talented at something but not have a passion for it?

  • Is it possible to have a burning passion for something, but also have no talent for it?

  • What does it mean for you if you're passionate but have no talent?

  • Why do you think Sir Ken Robinson thinks it's so beneficial to have both talent and passion?

  • How do you discover the things you're both talented in, and passionate about?

Some specific discussion points

Discussion of any literary works, historical figures, or current events featuring prominent individuals offers an opportunity to discuss levels of both talent and passion. For example, thinking of prominent sports stars like Tiger Woods or Serena Williams – we can ask if they started with tons of natural talent, or a burning passion, or both?

Some possible questions may include:

  • Do you know of anyone who was successful at anything, but only had one of these attributes (i.e passion or talent, but not both)?

  • If you can think of someone, would having the other attribute have helped them to achieve even more success? Why/Why not?

  • Are there other traits or characteristics that you think would make up for either talent or passion?

  • If you could only have either passion or talent (but not both), which would you prefer? Why?

  • Do you have to have passion right away, or do you think it can build up over time?

  • If you're not naturally talented in something you love, should you just give up immediately?

  • How long do you need to give something a go for before you can decide you're not talented at it?

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time." — Joseph Campbell

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you agree with this comment? Why/Why not?

  • How do you go about finding your 'bliss'?

  • Do you think there really is a 'life that you ought to be living'?

  • What do you think Campbell meant by "enjoying that refreshment, that life within you"?

  • Do you ever have times when you are doing something, and you feel like you're in a state of bliss?

  • Do you ever have times when you're so focused on what you're doing that you don't notice the time flying by? What are you doing in these moments?

Further information on this topic

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in watching:


Sir Ken Robinson – Bring on the Learning Revolution.


Or you might like to read:

Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life
by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica, 2014.

Please let us know how we could improve this episode?

We're always keen to hear how our work can be improved. If you can think of anything we can do to improve either the delivery of our content, the content itself, the exercises, or our guides to how the lesson can be applied in the classroom, please let us know.