There are 1000s of books written about finding your perfect career, finding your passion, etc. It is rare that I find one that I think is inspiring or unique. Dr. Ken Robinson who is a leading thinker on the idea of creativity and education wrote the book The Element. In The Element, he talks about passion and creativity and the stumbling blocks we have as humans in figuring out what areas we are passionate about. What I love about this book is what it isn’t: It is not a step by step guide to figuring out your passion, it is not of the theory that we have one passion and once we figure that out we are done, it is not a cookie cutter method of figuring out your passion.
In fact, one of Dr. Robinson’s theories is that we each have unique ways of looking at the world, unique intelligences, unique gifts, unique ways of being creative and many times because of the education system, peer pressure etc we don’t celebrate our uniqueness. We don’t celebrate our differences and therefore we miss our passions. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “We are all born with extraordinary power of imagination, intelligence, feeling, intuition, spirituality and of physical and sensory awareness. For the most part we only use a fraction of these powers, and some not at all. Many people have not found their Element because they don’t understand their own powers“
So frequently we try to put ourselves in a box, to normalize ourselves with the masses rather the recognizing our unique gifts, our unique passions, our unique selves our own power. Dr. Robinson tells the story of a child named Gillian who was having trouble at school, she couldn’t concentrate and was jittery through many of her classes. Her mother took her to a psychologist who talked with both her and her mother. As she listened to them talk Gillian began to believe that maybe there were right maybe she wasn’t a good person, a good student and she needed help. Eventually the psychologist asked to see the mother in the hallway, as he walked out of the office he turned on the radio. As the mother and the psychologist watched Gillian from the hallway (Gillian could not see them) they saw her begin to dance, the expression on her face was pure joy and her movements were graceful and beautiful. The psychologist turned to the mother and said, ‘she isn’t sick she is a dancer, take her to dance school’. The mother did, and Gillian eventually became Gillian Lynne–one of the most accomplished choreographers our time. Had they put her on medication told her that she was a problem child this gift would have been missed.
So I want you to pay attention to your special gifts. For today, look at your life and your day to day activities. What makes your heart sing, what brings you joy, what are you uniquely gifted at. It could be doing excel spreadsheets, listening without judgment, organizing materials, singing to the radio, running a mile with ease, playing imagination with your children, baking banana bread, or cooking without a recipe. As you look at yourself outside of the box, write down your unique gifts. Then I want you to put these unique gifts someplace special, hang them on your bathroom mirror, put them in your journal. I want you to put them in a place where you can see them and then I want you to celebrate them. These gifts are unique and special to you! They add passion to your life and make you a gift to the world.
So please for the world, celebrate you!