Just four years ago I was in my element but I had no idea at the time. I knew I loved what I was doing but didn’t know it was my element.
In the great book End Malaria, Sir Ken Robinson has an essay on finding your element.
“The first is that when you’re in your element, you’re doing something for which you have a natural aptitude; the second is that you love it, too. This is essential. I know many people who are good at things they don’t care for. Being in your element is more than being good at something. It is being at the place where talent meets passion. There is a third factor. Being in your element is also about connecting with others who share your passion: it’s about finding your tribe.”
In my senior year of college, I was the sole creator, editor, and distributor of Table Tent, which is essentially the schools version of The Onion condensed to a single sheet of paper folded into a tent that sat on tables in the dining hall. That fit all three factors of what defines your “element.”
1. Natural Aptitude.
Coming up with creative, witty thinks every week was fairly easy for me. I have a very specific, dry sense of humor along with high standards for what is funny. This allowed me to come up with quirky, funny things without much mental stress.
2. Love it: Talent meets Passion.
To this day it is the most fun I’ve had doing a job. It was 100% me. I had compelte freedom to come up with ideas, write them out, and distribute them. And it was a great opportunity to flex my humor muscles.
3. Connecting with a Tribe.
Every week I had a tribe (students at the college) who looked forward to what I wrote. The feedback from random people was great. This included a few random emails each week, disappointment after I graduated and someone else took over, and occasional emails to this day (3 years later) asking about Table Tent. I had a tribe that truly enjoyed what I did.
Once you define your element it’s a lot easier, but not easy, to find a way to get there.
Now, to find a way back to my element…