Chapter 1: The Element
Never underestimate the vital importance of finding early in
life the work that for you is play. This turns possible
underachievers into happy warriors.
The Element: The place where the things you love to do and the
things that you love to do come together. The Element is the
meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion.
For the most part, people seem to think that life is linear,
that our capacities decline as we grow older, and that
opportunities we have missed are gone forever.
Many people have
not found their Element because they don't understand their
constant potential for renewal.
When people are in their Element, they connect with something
fundamental to their sense of identity, purpose and well-being.
Being there provides a sense of self-revelation, of defining who
they really are and what they're meant to be doing with their
High-achievers often share similar attitudes, such as
self-belief, optimism, ambition and frustration.
Chapter 2: Think differently
is the enemy of creativity and innovation.
As soon as something
seems the most obvious thing in the world, it means that we have
abandoned all attempts at understanding it.
Human intelligence seems to have three main features:
extraordinary diverse: you use multiple parts of the
brain in every task you perform and it is the dynamic
use of the brain - finding new connections between
things - that true breakthrough occurs
It is entirely distinctive: every person's intelligence is
unique as a fingerprint
Intellectual growth and creativity come through embracing the
dynamic nature of intelligence. Growth comes through analogy,
through seeing things connect rather than only seeing how they
might be different.
Chapter 3: Beyond imagining
Children do not see anything so strange and different about art.
They accept it; they understand it; they love it. But the world
is going to pick them apart; this does not look like a tree,
this does not look like a man.
Imagination is what sets human beings apart from very other
species on earth. Imagination underpins every uniquely human
achievement. It lets us visit the past, contemplate the present,
and anticipate the future.
Through imagination we can not only
bring to mind things that we have experienced but things that we
have never experienced.
To be creative you actually have to do something. It involves
putting imagination to work to makes something new, to come up
with new solutions to problems, even to think of new problems
and questions. Creativity is applied imagination.
Usually the creative process begins with an inkling which
requires further development.
Creativity involves several
different processes that wind through each other.
The first is generating new ideas. Imagining different
possibilities, considering alternative options.
The creative process also involves developing these ideas by
judging which work best or feel right.
These processes don't come in a predictable sequence - they
interact with each other.
Creativity always involves using media of some sort to develop
ideas. The medium can be anything at all. The reason that so
many people think they're not creative is that they haven't
found their medium. To develop our creative abilities, we also
need to develop our practical skills in the media we want to
Sometimes when we are playing around with ideas and laughing,
were most open to new thoughts.
Creative thinking depends greatly on what's sometimes called
divergent or lateral thinking, and especially on thinking in
metaphors or seeing analogies.
Being creative is about making fresh connections so that we see
things in new ways and from different perspectives.
Lateral thinking: using reasoning that is not immediately
We don't just see the world as it is; we interpret it through
the particular ideas and beliefs that have shaped our own
cultures and our persona outlook.
All of these stand between us
and our raw experiences in the world, acting as a filter on what
we perceive and how we think.
Chapter 4: In the Zone
One of the strongest signs of being in the zone is a sense of
freedom and authenticity.
When we are doing something that we
love and are naturally good at, we are much more likely to feel
entered in our true sense of self - to be who we truly are.
you are connecting this way with your deep interests and natural
energy, time tends to move more quickly, more fluidly.
Meta-state: where ideas comes more quickly, as if you are
tapping a source that makes it significantly easier to achieve
your task. You develop a facility for the thing you are doing
because you've unified your energy with the process and the
efforts you are making.
Once you think about being in the zone, you are immediately out
Flow: happens when psychic energy - or attention - is invested
in realistic goals, and when skills match the opportunities for
The optimal experience: is comprised by the elements of
enjoyment. These include facing a challenge that requires a
skill one possesses, concentration on the task at hand that
allows one to forget everything else, the loss of
self-consciousness, and the sense that time transforms during
The activity that consumes us becomes intrinsically rewarding.
Being in the zone doesn't take energy away - it gives it to you.
Activities we love fill us with energy even when we are
physically exhausted. When people place themselves in situations
that lead to their being in the zone, they tap into a primal
source of energy.
Mental energy isn't a fixed substance. It rises and falls with
our passion and commitment to what we are doing at the time. The
key difference is in our attitude, and our sense of resonance
with an activity.
These peak experiences are associated with physiological changes
in the body - there may be a release of endorphins in the brain
and of adrenaline through the body. There may be an increase in
alpha wave activity and changes in our metabolic rates and in
the patterns of our breathing and heartbeats.
When we connect with our own energy we are more open to the
energy of other people. The more alive we feel, the more we can
contribute to the lives of others.
When people are in the zone, they align naturally with a way of
thinking that works best for them. And when people use a
thinking style completely natural to them, everything comes more
Each person's intelligence is distinct from the intelligence
from every other persons, that everyone has a unique way of
getting in the zone.
Chapter 5: Finding your tribe
a tribe is a common commitment to the thing they feel born to
No one is limited to one domain, and many people move in
several. Often, breakthrough ideas come about when someone makes
a connection between different ways of thinking, sometimes
across different domains.
As cultures and technology evolves, new domains emerge.
Finding your tribe can have a transformational effect on your
sense of identity and purpose because of three powerful tribal
dynamics: validation, inspiration and The alchemy if synergy.
Finding your tribe provides inspiration and provocation to raise
the bar on your own achievements.
The alchemy of synergy: the combination of creative energies and
the need to perform at the highest level to keep up with peers
leads to a commitment to excellence.
Great creative teams are:
are composed of very different sorts of people with
different but complementary talents.
Creative teams find ways of using their differences as
strengths, not weaknesses. They have a process through
which their strengths are complementary and compensate
for each other's weaknesses. They are able to challenge
each other as equals and to take criticism as an
incentive to raise their game.
Creative teams have a distinctive personality and come
together to do something specific. They are together
only for as long as they want to be or have to be to get
the job done.
identity theory: people often derive a large sense of
who they are through affiliation with specific groups
and tend to associate themselves closely with groups
likely to boost their self- esteem - fan behavior.
helps people become more themselves, leading them toward a
greater sense of personal identity.
Fandom is in many ways a form of what psychologists call
deindividuation. This means losing your sense of identity
through becoming a part of the group.
Chapter 6: What
will they think?
The barriers to finding the element could be thought of as three
Fear is perhaps the
biggest obstacle to finding your element, for example fear of
On groupthink: According to Judy Rich Harris, who have
studied how the influences of you people on their friends and
peer groups, there are three main forces that shape our
The influence of
peers is much stronger than the influence from parents.
The world that the
children shares with their peers is what shares their behavior
and modifies the characteristics they were born with, and hence
determines the sort of people they will be when they grow up.
Children get their ideas of how to behave by identifying with
the group and taking on its attitudes, behavior speech, and
styles of dress and adornment.
Ants achieve their goals by fulfilling their own very specific
roles with military precision. Each ant work toward a global
goal, while no ant takes the lead. There seems to be no
hierarchy at all within an ant colony.
A culture: the values and forms of behavior that
characterize different social groups. Culture is a system of
permissions. It's about the attitudes and behaviors that are
acceptable and unacceptable in different communities, those that
are approved of and those that are not.
All cultures promote contagious behavior, for example language.
The parts of the brain involved in processing background and
objects are engaged differently across the two sets of elderly
people coming from different geographical and cultural
All cultures have an unwritten survival manual for success.
The great social movements are those that are stimulated when
boundaries are broken. Finding your element sometimes require
breaking away from your native culture in order to achieve your
On the web we have patterns of contagious behavior being
generated on massive scale. Many of us now live like a Russian
doll nestled I multiple layers of cultural identity.
Chapter 7: Do you
It's not what
happens to us that makes the difference in our lives. It is our
attitude toward what happens.
Research shows that lucky people often make their luck because
of their attitudes. We all create and shape the realities of our
own lives to an extraordinary extent.
Those who consider themselves lucky tend to exhibit similar
attitudes and behavior. Wiseman has identified 4 principles that
characterize lucky people:
Lucky people tend to maximize opportunities. They are especially
adept at creating, noticing, and acting upon these opportunities
when they arise.
Second, they tend to be very effective at listening to their
intuition, and do work such as meditation that is designed to
boost their intuitive abilities.
The third principle is that lucky people tend to be lucky,
creating a serie of self-fulfilling prophecies because they go
into the world anticipating a positive outcome.
Last, lucky people have an attitude that allows them to turn bad
luck to good. They move quickly to take control over the
situation when it isn't going well for them.
Two different people with the same cultural orientations may
still see the same scene in completely different ways, depending
upon their preconceptions and their sense of mission.
Chapter 8: Somebody help me
element often requires the aid and guidance of others.
Mentors serve one or all of 4 roles for us:
Mentors recognize the spark of interest or delight
and can help and individual drill down to the specific
components of the discipline that match that individuals
capacity and passion.
Mentors lead us to believe that we can achieve
something that seems improbable or impossible before we met
them. They stand by to remind us of the skills we already
possess and what we can achieve if we continue to work hard.
Mentors can help lead us toward our element by
offering us advice and techniques, paving the way for us, and
even allowing us to falter a but while standing by to help us
recover and learn from our mistakes.
Effective mentors push us past what we see as our
limits and prevent us from doing less with our lives than we
Chapter 9: Is it
One of the
most basic reasons of thinking that it is too late to be who you
are truly capable of being is the belief that life is linear.
if we were on a busy one-way street, we think we have no
alternative but to keep going forward. If we missed something
the first time, we can't double back and take another look
because it takes all our effort just to keep up with the
Human lives are organic and cyclical. Different capacities
express themselves in stronger ways at different times in our
Because of this, we get multiple opportunities for new
growth and development, and multiple opportunities to revitalize
Laughter has a huge effect on aging. So does intellectual
Babies don't learn to speak by instructions. They learn by
imitation and inference. We are all born with a deep,
instinctive capacity for language, which is activated almost as
soon as we draw breath.
Babies instinctively recognize meanings
and intentions in the sounds and tones they hear from other
humans around them.
During early stages of development, our brains go through a
process that cognitive scientist's call "neural pruning". This
involved trimming away neural pathways that we determine at an
unconscious level to have little long-term value.
It serves the
same function in our brains as pruning does to a tree - it gets
rid of the unnecessary branches to allow for continued growth
and increased overall strength.
It shuts down pathways that we
will never use again in order to make room for the expansion of
pathways that we will use regularly.
As long as we keep using our brains in an active way, we
continue to build neural pathways as we get older.
Just as physical exercise can revitalize our muscles, mental
exercise can revitalize our creative capabilities. The brain
continues to generate new cells, and certain mental techniques
can accelerate this.
One of the results of seeing our live as linear and
unidirectional is that it leads to a culture of segregating
people by age.
Chapter 10: For love or money
At the most basic level, professionals are simply those people
who earn their living in that field, while amateurs are people
But the term amateur and professional often imply
something else - something about quality and expertise. People
often think of amateurs as second-rate well below professionals.
The word amateur derives from the word "amator", which means
lover, devoted friend, or someone who is in avid pursuit of an
objective. In the original sense, an amateur is someone who does
something for the love of it.
Amateurs do what they do because
they have a passion for it, not because it pays the bills.
Pro-am: a type f amateur that works at increasingly higher
standards and generates breakthrough sometimes greater than made
For pro-ams, leisure is not passive
consumerism but active participatory. They pursue their passions
outside of the workplace, but with an energy and dedication
rarely given the acts of leisure. They often compensate for
There is an important difference between leisure and recreation.
We tend to think about work as something that takes our energy.
Leisure is what we do to build it up again. Leisure often
respite, a passive break from the challenges of the day, a
chance to rest and recharge.
Recreation carries a more active
tone - literally of recreating ourselves. It suggests activities
that require physical or mental effort but which enhance our
energies rather than depleting them.
The element is about a more dynamic, organic conception of human
existence in which the different parts of our lives are not seen
as hermetically sealed off from one another but as interacting
and influencing each other.
Chapter 11: Making the grade
Public schools were not only created in the interest of
industrialism - they were created in the image of industrialism.
In many ways, they reflect the factory culture they were
designed to support.
Schools divide the curriculum into specialist segments: some
teachers install math in the students, and other installs
They arrange the day into standard units of time,
marked out by ringing of bells, much like a factory announcing
the beginning of the workday and the end of breaks.
educated in batches, according to age, as if the most important
things they have in common is their date of manufacture.
are given standardized tests at set points and compared with
each other before being sent out onto the market.
Education doesn't need to be reformed - it needs to be
The key to this transformation is not to
standardize education but to personalize it, to build
achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child,
to put students in an environment where they want to learn and
where they can naturally discover their true passion.