A knight to remember- this changed my life

I recently learnt something so powerful it has profoundly changed me. It’s an insight I wish I had known 35 years ago. It would have changed my life’s path, and is changing it now. Here’s what a very wise man told me….

His name is Ken Robinson. Sir Ken to be precise. He’s an educator. A thinker. An inspiring speaker. It was David Ogilvy’s 100th birthday. And the auditorium was packed with 2,000 communications industry executives from around the world, eager to hear Sir Ken’s 40 minutes on ‘how to become more creative.’

In the midst of his speech, Sir Ken shared the insight that has changed my life. It’s so simple, so obvious. Yet- I’d never realised it before. Now that I do, it dominates my thinking about what I do, how I can be happier and how I can contribute more.

Find Your Element- And Work In It Every Day

I am repeating here parts of STW’s excellent report on Sir Ken’s speech. In essence, Sir Ken said each of us have the jobs we have because we are good at a number of things important to that specific role.

Some of those things energise us. We’re good at them, and when we do them, we get inspired and motivated. (When I spend a morning training and coaching our young leaders, I finish the session and immediately go for a 10 km run. I am on fire. I have energy to burn. I don’t want the day to end).

But some of the things we do in our jobs deplete us, even though we’re good at them. (When I lead a series of budget review meetings, even though I do a good job playing the hard-nosed bad guy pushing for more, as soon as the day is over, it’s off to the pub for a wine and cigar, shoulders slumped and heart heavy).

Find Your Passion: Work In Your Element- Every Day

The message from Sir Ken is to discover the things you love to do AND are good at doing. Build these increasingly into your job every day. You’re then operating in your element, and you’ll absolutely love every minute of it. Your energy changes. If you’re doing something you love, and what you’re good at, you get energy from it. If you don’t, it takes energy from you.

The Valuable Lesson For Our Lives

Think hard about what you do that you’re great at, and what you love doing. Try to reshape your roles so that you spend more and more time working in your element. Sharpen and deepen your skills in these areas. Make it your life’s work. Create the opportunities you feel you need. Find your best life: your most authentic life that feeds your natural appetite.

Sir Ken reminds us of Thoreau: “Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.”

The Valuable Lesson For Us As Parents

And as a parent, the message for me from Sir Ken: “All you want for your kids is for them to find their passion.”

What a great insight. If we can find what we love doing, be very good at it, and spend our working lives doing it, we’ll never ‘work’ a day of our lives. And if we can help our children find a similar path early in their professional lives, how amazing would that be? Thank you, Sir Ken.

>View of video of Chris retelling this post

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14 Responses to A knight to remember- this changed my life

  1. Jessica December 14, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks for the Nextness shout out Chris! Sir Ken was a Cannes highlight for me. And such a crack up too.

    • Chris Savage December 14, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      Sure was Jess! Will never forget it. Chris

  2. Richard. December 14, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Thanks Chris,
    Very inspirational! For those times when we have to do “the things that deplete us” (I love that expression) and leave us feeling down, a word of advice I’ve lived by since I first heard it: Never make a decision in a bad mood.

    • Chris Savage December 14, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      Thanks Richard-sadly I have made a few in bad moods or when emotional and they have always been bad!

  3. Cassie December 14, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Love your post about finding your passion. Ken Robinson also has some great talks on TED that you may be interested in watching (if you haven’t already seen them):

    I also think you may enjoy a blog called which has some great posts about finding your passion, creativity and productivity.

    Hope you enjoy them!

    • Chris Savage December 14, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      Thanks Cassie- he certainly does… I think I refer to them on the video that goes with the post. I’ll have to watch it to make sure! Chris

  4. Paula Gaber McNulty December 14, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    People can be energising or depleting, too. We call one type of person – the former – ‘radiators’. The latter, ‘drains’. The ideal is to count as few ‘drains’ among your colleagues, clients and acquaintenances as possible, and hope that your family aren’t ‘drains’ as you can’t choose them!

    • Chris Savage December 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

      Love it! You were always a radiator to me Paula- even 27 years after we last worked together!

  5. David Appleton December 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Chris, I first discovered Sir Ken on TED talks as well, a source if inspiration I am shamelessly addicted to! Surrounding yourself with colleagues who’s Elements compliment as opposed to overlap results in a highly motivated and productive team. If we reevaluate allocation of resources to functional groups under our influence keeping Sir. Ken’s insight in mind then not only will we make those groups more productive but the quality of life of every member of each group will be maximized. Great stuff!

    • Chris Savage December 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

      Thanks David. Great to see Possums has a growing readership in Vietnam! Chris

  6. carl Sherriff December 15, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Thanks for that Chris, I love the ‘kids bit’, a succinct way of relating as to what I want for mine. And nice there’s a naughty bit there too…cigar and wine…mmm nice. Cheers!

  7. Sophia December 21, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Hello Chris,
    I stumbled across your blog from a friend of mine and I must say it has uplifted me to focus on my goals and strive for the better. You are truly an inspiration.
    Thanks again mate.

    • Chris Savage December 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      Thanks Sophia- I am glad you get something from it. By the way- I think we’ve met before. I am trying to remember where. Chris


  1. The Three Vital Ingredients To Happiness- At Work, and In Life | Wrestling Possums - February 1, 2012

    […] is a very similar message to that of Sir Ken Robinson, outlined in my recent post  A Knight To Remember-This Changed My Life. Be very clear about what your ‘element’ is- what you really love doing most in life and are […]

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