Sir Ken Robinson Puts You in Your Element
When you attend The Sarasota International Design Summit, you expect big things for the intersection of design and business. For the last five years, the event has featured innovators from Google, Target, IDEO, Autodesk, Herman Miller, Procter & Gamble and Sony Pictures Imageworks. The event is coordinated by Ringling College of Art and Design – one of the world’s most influential design institutions.
The first speaker didn’t disappoint. Sir Ken Robinson writes, speaks and consults on creativity, innovation and human resources. His track title, as well as the title of one of his books, was “The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.” His talk was filled with insights about what separates us from achieving meaningful personal and professional goals as well as how our modern education system standardizes learning at the sake of annihilating creativity. It was one of the most entertaining presentations I’ve seen. But it was also the kind of presentation that’s really hard to boil down because there were so many takeaways and they were delivered with such wit and eloquence but here it goes…
We all get different things and we get them profoundly.
Robinson talked about how both he and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page were given a guitar at the age of 15 but only one of them went on to much success despite the fact that Robinson “regularly blew into his as hard as he could.” Often we are drawn to areas where we have both aptitude and passion. Do we like it because we’re good at it? Or are we good at it because we like it? Either way, our passion keeps us returning so we continue to raise our game. My passion has always been wordplay – reading, writing and daydreaming. I was scolded for reading “Anne of Green Gables” during math class in fourth grade. Later, I tried my hand at baton and soccer with only awkward photos and a dislocated elbow to show for it. But debate (wordplay meets performance) was where I excelled. And where practice came easy.
Most people don’t enjoy what they do, they endure it.
Robinson shared a story of a man who stumbled into a restaurant kitchen and felt like he had come home. It was the most interesting place he had ever been. If you don’t know what your talents are or if you have many, it’s easy to believe the path that you’re on is the right one – especially if it’s the path that’s paying the bills. The fear of the unknown keeps us from exploring let alone jumping into a career we might actually enjoy. Sometimes, the choice is made for us. Take the subjects of the documentary “Lemonade.” The advertising executives parlayed their pink slips into the careers and lives they’ve always wanted.
Happy final thought from Robinson: If you love what you do, you never really have to work again. In other words, find your element and rediscover work that doesn’t feel like work.
So, who is ready to retire?
If you aren’t there just yet, consider reading our post on Manufacturing Creativity – Lessons from Sir Ken Robinson to find your way to your more creative self.
Sir Ken Robinson is the author of “The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” and “Out of Our Minds – Learning To Be Creative.” He works with governments in Europe, the UK, Asia and the U.S., Fortune 500 companies and worldwide cultural organizations. He is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Warwick in the UK, and travels around the world speaking about the creative challenges facing business and education.