Episode 173: Sir Ken Robinson on The Element, Talent Assessment and Feeling Lucky

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Sir Ken is one of DishyMix's all time most popular guests. He's back, this time to talk about human potential, the intersection of aptitude and passion and finding your calling.

Do you wonder if you are doing the right work? Does your job make you ecstatically happy or utterly miserable? Do you think there might be something else more satisfying out there for you? Let's find out what it is.

"The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything," is a NY Times best-seller. Sir Ken shares his stories about "creating a new paradigm of human capacity to meet a new era of human existence."

How do you discern your best attributes? Ken provides a long list of possibilities for consideration. Perhaps you are linguistic, musical, mathematical, spatial, kinesthetic. Perhaps you are more interpersonal or intrapersonal? Do you have more analytic intelligence, creative or practical intelligence?

Ken shares ways you can be in your "flow," or in your "element." Dial yourself in a little better in this heartwarming show full of hope and your human potential.

Sampling of Discussion Points:

  • What is your human potential, the intersection of aptitude and passion and finding your calling?
  • Does your job make you ecstatically happy or utterly miserable?
  • Your best attributes? Linguistic, musical, mathematical, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal or intrapersonal?
  • Do you have more analytic intelligence, creative or practical intelligence?
  • “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.”
  • Two free autographed copies for http://dishymixfan.com DishyMix fans!
  • The Element from @SirKenRobinson. 2 free autographed copies! Post your desire at http://dishymixfan.com DishyMix
  • “The best hope for the future is to develop a new paradigm of human capacity to meet a new era of human existence.”
  • Our school systems have become so oppressed and stifled by standards of systematized testing they're not succeeding.
  • “Companies have a very impoverished view of the real talents that align in the people they employ.”
  • Howard Gardener says there are 9 main forms of intelligence. What are yours?
  • @SirKenRobinson on Robert Cooper, The Other 90 Percent, about the heart brain and the gut brain.
  • @SirKenRobinson on how experiences go first to the neurological networks of the intestinal track and heart.
  • The enteric nervous system: 2nd brain inside the intestines, independent of, but interconnected with the brain.
  • Why we often experience our first reaction to events as a gut reaction, which shapes everything we do.”
  • Robert Sternberg from Tufts, kind of an anti-IQ guy on analytic, creative and practical intelligence.
  • Herman Brain Dominance: A, B, C & D Quadrants: analytic, implementation, social and future thinking.
  • Herman Brain Dominance Instrument better than Myers Briggs.
  • The Luck Factor by psychologist Gordon Wiseman.
  • Sir Ken Robinson on The Element, Talent Assessment and Feeling Lucky


Sir Ken is one of DishyMix's all time most popular guests. He's back, this time to talk about human potential, the intersection of aptitude and passion and finding your calling.

Do you wonder if you are doing the right work? Does your job make you ecstatically happy or utterly miserable? Do you think there might be something else more satisfying out there for you? Let's find out what it is.

"The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything," is a NY Times best-seller. Sir Ken shares his stories about "creating a new paradigm of human capacity to meet a new era of human existence."

How do you discern your best attributes? Ken provides a long list of possibilities for consideration. Perhaps you are linguistic, musical, mathematical, spatial, kinesthetic. Perhaps you are more interpersonal or intrapersonal? Do you have more analytic intelligence, creative or practical intelligence?

Ken shares ways you can be in your "flow," or in your "element." Dial yourself in a little better in this heartwarming show full of hope and your human potential.


Susan Bratton: Welcome to Dishy Mix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton, and on today’s show you are going to get to meet again Sir Ken Robinson. So Ken was on the show, oh gosh, probably about a year and a half ago, and he has been one of my all time most popular guests. Month after month after month he’s in the top of the downloads. And he has a brand new book out, and we’re going to talk about that. So Ken is an international leader in human potential and creativity and education and the intersection of those things, yes, education can be creative. He has a new book out; it’s called The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. And he’s really one of the world’s leaders in creativity and innovation, and we’re going to focus on bringing that to the way we consider ourselves and the way we consider those with whom we work. So I’d like to introduce and welcome Sir Ken Robinson. Welcome.

Sir Ken Robinson: Thank you Susan. It’s a great pleasure to be back. Thank you.

Susan Bratton: I’m so happy you are. And I wanted to start out, Sir Ken, with the notion that when I read your book I really felt like what you did was kick open the door to a new realm of talent assessment tools. It was like I, poof, popped into a whole new place where there was so much more for me to understand about myself and the people that I love and work with, about their talents and their capabilities. You referenced a lot of people’s work and stitched it together in a, with your own special spin and look at humans and their unique ways of being that I hope we can cover a lot of that today. So the first thing that I want to do is I want you to describe The Element for us. Give us that level set.

Sir Ken Robinson: Okay, well The Element, the title comes from an expression that a lot of people use, and I hear myself saying, you know, which is that people do their best when they do the thing they love, when they’re in their element. And I thought, “Well what is that exactly”, because it’s clear to me in my experience that an awful lot of people do things for a living that they don’t really like doing, they don’t much enjoy it, they just get on with it because they have found their way into it and, you know, they live their lives in a kind of low grade sense of tolerance, is what they do. And yet I also meet lots of people that actually love what they do and couldn’t really imagine doing anything else. You know, they’re in their element, so to speak. Well it’s two things it seems to me. One of them is to be in your element you have to be doing something that you have a natural attitude for, a natural feel. And the truth is, we all have very, very different attitudes. You know, we take the things in very different ways. But it’s not enough to be doing something you’re good at, because I know lots of people who do things they’re good at that they don’t really much like doing. To be in your element you have to love it too. And if you are doing something you’re good at and something that you also love to do, that seems to me to be the perfect place and that’s what being in your element is.

Susan Bratton: So it’s the intersection of your talent and your passion…

Sir Ken Robinson: Yes.

Susan Bratton: And that was the point in the book. It doesn’t matter what your talents are if you don’t love them. If you’re really good at numbers and they bore you to death, don’t do it. If you want to, if you love plants and growing things and that’s your passion and it’s a part of your talent, that’s where you should be.

Sir Ken Robinson: I think that’s right. That’s right. And it applies definitely to people in all sorts of different walks of life, you know. For some people it’s math, for some people it’s working with people, it’s teaching, it’s doing what you’re doing now, you know, or it’s, it could be cooking or raising families, or anything at all. I mean our attitudes are very different, and that’s in a way a major point in the book. You know, the book is really about diversity and celebrating difference.

Susan Bratton: So one of the things that I wanted to quote was this: You wrote, “The best hope for the future is to develop a new paradigm of human capacity to meet a new era of human existence.” I think that goes to what you’re saying, that every one of us has a unique talent. You know, you’ve been very critical of our education system being a part of the industrial revolution mechanism, you know, the, we are thinking about people’s talents and pigeon holing them as well, and you want to get out of that and find a lot of new ways. What are some of the things that we can do as people who manage other people for example, to create this new era of human existence?

Sir Ken Robinson: The shift I’m talking about, as you say, is from an old model, not just of education but of the mind to, a richer model. You know, the current systems education are intended to develop our ability to work, among other things. But the way in which it’s done is rooted so much in the 19th century models of industrial manufacture, that most people now I think never truly discover their own talents through the process of being educated. I have lots of people in the work, I’ve interviewed all kinds of people in the arts and sciences, in business, in not for profits, and many of them didn’t do well at school at all, they. They went on to do brilliantly well afterwards…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Sir Ken Robinson: once they discovered their real talents. I don’t mean to say that in order to succeed you have to have failed at school first; I mean that would be pushing this a bit far. But it is true that education is designed to identify certain sorts of talents and not all talents. That’s, by the way, education, traditional education at its best. The problem now I think is that our school systems have become so oppressed and stifled by standards of systemized testing that their not even succeeding in their traditional market, so to speak. So a lot of people come through the system never really know what they’re good at…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Sir Ken Robinson: And I think for companies and organizations, and for parents and families, what I’m trying to argue for is we have to go back and think very differently about the nature of human intelligence and the nature of human ability. We’re grown up with a whole set of ideas that we take for granted about our natural abilities, and the result of it is I think we have a very impoverished view of our own potential, and I think companies have a very impoverished view very often of the real talents that align there in the people they employ.

Susan Bratton: I have to say Ken, I pulled my daughter, whose now just turned 12, out of an expensive academic prep school here in Silicon Valley because it was literally beating the life out of her. I mean, she doesn’t follow, her talent set is the antithesis of that kind of rote academic memorization, and I could see her life being strangled by this school I was paying so much money for. I put her in public school, she came home the first day and said, “Mom, I love it.” Their first project was to understand what kind of a learner they were; were they auditory, kinesthetic, you know, visual, where were their strengths, and I though, uh, this is a perfect kind of an education for my kid, so much more open about doing things the way that you need to express them. You know, as long as you understand the concept, express it the way you want to express it. I loved that.

Sir Ken Robinson: It’s great Susan. I mean, we have a lot of things in common, and we have that in common too. We took our daughter out of school when she was 16, for the same reason, you know, the light was going out in her eyes…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Sir Ken Robinson: The school had become a production facility for college…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Sir Ken Robinson: and for the Ivy League, and, you know, she’s a great and beautiful and smart, witty girl, but she was just dying at this school. And I remember I went in to see some of the teachers at one point, and I remember one of the teachers saying, “I think Kate has a problem of attitude.”

Susan Bratton: That’s what they were telling my daughter too, and I thought, “Yeah, because you’re beating the crap out of her.” She was so marginalized.

Sir Ken Robinson: I said, “What’s the problem”, and, you know, I mean some teenagers have attitudes, but…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Sir Ken Robinson: and they all do sometimes, but she doesn’t as a general rule, you know…

Susan Bratton: Right.

Sir Ken Robinson: not in a sense that people normally mean that…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Sir Ken Robinson: She’s already an engaged and interesting girl, and I said, “What do you mean she’s got a problem with attitude?” And this teacher said, “Well she looks bored all the time.” And I said to her, “Do you have any theories about that?” And she said, “How do you mean?” I said, “Well, could it be boring?” And of course it was…

Susan Bratton: Of course.

Sir Ken Robinson: I mean, I’ve been with this teacher five minutes and I was stultified, you know. I said, “No, you are boring.” You know, I don’t mean to say that, you know, education has to be a constant entertainment and variety show…

Susan Bratton: No.

Sir Ken Robinson: But the gift of a teacher is to engage people’s interests, and to do what these teachers are doing with your daughter, to first figure out, well how do you learn, you know, what’s your style. I mean, my daughter, Kate, is a very visual learner. You know, she’s great with words, but she isn’t great with remembering lists of things, but if you do remind her…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Sir Ken Robinson: she totally gets it.

Susan Bratton: Right.

Sir Ken Robinson: And the other thing by the way, and I don’t know if it’s true of your daughter, but the other thing is education, and consequently I think the way we select peoples employment, is obsessed with a particular type of academic ability.

Susan Bratton: Right.

Sir Ken Robinson: And, you know, academic ability’s important, but it meets this idea that if you work with your handler so to speak, or you haven’t gone off and got a law degree, then you’re a lower order of person, and I think it’s absolute obscenity. I was up in Danville recently doing a book signing for The Element, and there was a guy in front of me, I was signing the book very quickly, you know, the way you do, and is said, “What do you do?” He was in his 30’s and he said, “I am a fireman.” I said, “Oh great.” I said, “How, when did you decide to be a fireman?” He said, “I always wanted to be a fireman.” He said, “Actually it was interesting to me at school because, you know, when you’re a kid everybody wants to be a fireman.” And he said, “But the thing was I really did want to be a fireman.” And he said, “People never took me seriously. And even at high school, everyone was getting, you know, prepped and pushed and told they have to go to college”, and he said, “You know, I didn’t want to do that.” He said, “Now I had one teacher, he said to me, ‘You know, you’ll never matter anything if that’s your attitude’, and he called me stupid in front of the whole class.” He said, “I never forgot that.”…

Susan Bratton: Crushing.

Sir Ken Robinson: He said, anyway, he said, “About six months ago I saved his life. He was in a car accident, I pulled him out and I gave him CPR.” He said, “I think he thinks better of me now.” You know. If all we had was academic ability or the, you know, the capacity to complete certain types of academic programs, the world would have stopped generations ago, you know. We depend upon, not just a variety of talents among all of us, but within each of us. And what we have here is a process education, which takes, you know, smart and sparkling kids like your daughter and flattens them out. You know, and then they think it’s their fault or they put them on drugs to try and get them back to the program. Yeah. I just think that what we really have to realize is the world his heading towards some of the greatest challenges that have ever faced us as a species, I mean that really seriously. And the way that we’re going to cope with this is not with some old fashioned taken for granted view of human talent, we have to get right back to basics. Some people talk about getting back to basics, I wish they would, you know. And that’s why we call the book The Element in part, because the other reasons, there is resonance of the term is it’s elemental, it’s absolutely fundamental we get back to think of what we are as human beings, what we have to offer and what we now have to develop to make really genuine progress in the future.

Susan Bratton: Well one of the things about your book was the various kinds of talent assessment tools that you talked about, and I want to cover quite a few of those, but I have a question for you first. Because not everyone understands what their real talents are, we must go through a process of self-assessment and have others, you know, that know us and love us as well give us some clues as to what they might think are our talents as well. I’ve recently interviewed Marcus Buckingham. He is the author of The Truth About You, and one of the things that he offered in his book was a process for getting to understand what your talents might be by keeping a diary of your day whenever you are doing something that made you feel really good, you’d write it down. And whenever you’re doing something that made you feel really bad, you’d write it down. And over the course of a couple of weeks you could begin to look at those moments when you were in your element as a way to help you. What other tools or techniques do you think are good for people who think, “I don’t know what my, I don’t know the intersection of my talent and my passion, I just have no idea. I’m completely lost.”

Sir Ken Robinson: Yeah. Well the first thing is that there is a difference between attitude and passion, clearly. An attitude to me is a natural ability in something. You know, a sense that you know what this is, that you can do it relatively easy. I don’t mean you can become an expert in something instantly, but you know what it is. And I interview lots of people in the book, and, you know, some of them are musicians, they just took to music immediately, some are mathematicians, they got it right away that this is what matters about. One of the people I interviewed in the book was a guy called Bart Conner. Bart is, I think, an extraordinary guy. He discovered when we was six that he could walk on his hands as he could walk on his feet. I mean, it wasn’t much use to him, you know, but he enjoyed doing it and it made him popular. But his parents eventually took note of this and when he was I think ten his mother took him to a gymnastics center in his hometown of Morton Grove Illinois, and he went everyday. He said when he went into this gymnasium, it was like a combination of Santa’s grotto and Disney Land. Well, you know, not all of us Susan see that when we walk into gymnasiums, you know. I don’t.

Susan Bratton: Nor do I.

Sir Ken Robinson: He said it was intoxicating. I said, “I need to get intoxicated if I go into a gymnasium.

Susan Bratton: Exactly. I’ll be at the pub next door.

Sir Ken Robinson: But anyway. You know, eight years later he walked onto the mat at the Montreal Olympics representing the United States in the male gymnastics squad, and he went on to become the most decorated male gymnast in American history. He now lives in Oklahoma, he’s married to Nadia Comaneci, you know, the first perfect ten in women’s gymnastics. They run this extraordinary gymnastics school and they’re great champions of the Special Olympics Movement. But, you know, this was clearly a natural capacity that Bart demonstrated at an early age. But of course he wasn’t able at the age of six to go straight to the gym, to the Olympics. It was a huge process that then has to take place to develop these capacities into something. But we all have them very differently, that’s really my point, and you’re quite right. I think it’s not even that some people don’t know, most people don’t know what their real talents are or their natural attitudes because the opportunity to develop them isn’t presented, you know. I mean, if Bart had had a different mother, you know, somebody else might’ve said, “Bart will you stop it with the hands thing, you know, and get on with your homework.” But here was somebody who recognized that this was an important part of who this kid was. So there are lots of tests out there, and I’m actually looking at a whole range of these just now, which are designed, even Marcus Buckingham has his, you know, his own schedule to this, this finding your strengths, and there are lots of different systems out there, which are designed to help people to think about both how they learn, you know, whether they’re dominantly visual or auditory learners or verbal learners. But also test for, you know, physical dexterity, you know, for visual acuity, for sound, for the panoply of human aptitudes. It has been looked at really quite extensively over a long time and produced some tests which I think are interesting, some which are perhaps less interesting. So I do recommend that, I do recommend to people that they do as Marcus suggests, they should keep a note of things that they do, things they find come easy and things they find less easy. But also along side that my point about The Element is it’s about things you also enjoy doing, and I think keeping track of that is really very important. And I’ll tell you, my wife always says to me if I’ve spent a day doing administration and I come in for dinner, I look like I’ve aged about ten years, you know, because I mean I do it, I don’t like it, but I do it. But as I’ve been out working with people all day, I come back in, you know, looking ten years younger. And this is a really interesting point to me, that if you’re doing something you love it gives you energy. And if you do things you don’t like it takes energy from you. Energy’s not fixed, I think, it’s something that’s generated by your excitement about the thing that you’re doing. I’m sure it’s true for you. If you have a really good interview, if you get really jazzed by it, you get energized by it, you might be physically tired, but you could go on all day, you know.

Susan Bratton: Absolutely. And we are going to go on for a little while longer, but first we’re going to take a break to thank our sponsors. And when we come back I want to talk to you about more about the energy and being in the flow and some of these other aptitude decipher, decipherers. That’s hard to say. So lets take a break. You’re getting to know Sir Ken Robinson. He is an international leader in the human potential of creativity and education, and he has a new book called The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. And of course Sir Ken is going to be so kind as to give us two personally autographed copies for Dishy Mix listeners. To get yours and to be one of the people that we choose for Sir Ken to give you your personally autographed copy, all you need to do is go to my Dishy Mix FaceBook Fan Club, that’s at dishymixfan.com, takes you right there. Just post on the wall your desire to have a copy, and we’ll choose from two of you and get those out to you. Sir Ken, thank you for offering that up, I appreciate it.

Sir Ken Robinson: Pleasure.

Susan Bratton: Alright, we’re going to go to break, thank my sponsors. Listen to their messages, some of them are very timely and offer great discounts for you, which I know you’ll appreciate. We’ll be right back with more of Sir Ken and all about you.

Susan Bratton: We’re back, and before the break we were talking to Sir Ken Robinson about his new book The Element, and Sir Ken, I wanted to, you were talking about energy, and one of the things you discussed in the book was Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, thank you for making that spelled out so that I could pronounce it.

Sir Ken Robinson: Yeah, I did know him by the way and he answers to Mike.

Susan Bratton: Mike is good.

Sir Ken Robinson: I would go for that.

Susan Bratton: He talks about flow, the psychology of optimal experience. How do you tie that into finding your element?

Sir Ken Robinson: Well I, how I put it in the book is, I used the expression ‘being in the zone’. And what I mean by that is that when you’re doing something that you’re naturally good at and that you also love to do, there are moments there where I think the level of absorption becomes so intense that time changes for you. You think that, the fact of getting into the element to me is really important for a whole range of reasons, and one of them is it’s essential to our personal fulfillment. It, because it’s about in a way discovering who we really are, you know, discovering the things, in a sense, that we were born to do. And you have a feel for when you’re doing something that resonates deeply with your sense of self, because you feel often that you’re most authentic when you’re doing it, you feel that you’re most natural, you think, “Oh this is me when I’m doing this.” Now the most intense experience of that I think what Mike Csikszentmihalyi calls ‘flow’ and what I call in the book ‘being in the zone’. What I mean by that is that’s the, you’re being in the deep part of it at that point. I find that sometimes, almost often truthfully with people. I think I talk a little bit about this there, you know, that I get asked to talk a lot about these things and to work with groups, and sometimes, if the energy’s right and you’re really connecting with the room, you know, you can look up an hour later and you didn’t realize the time had gone that quickly. And if you’re doing things you love to do, an hour can feel like five minutes. If you’re not doing things that you feel real in tuned to, five minutes can feel like an hour, which is I’m sure how your daughter was feeling at the school she left behind.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Sir Ken Robinson: You know, time just drags, and you think, “Will this clock never move.” One of the people I interviewed in the book is a great woman called Eva Lawrence, who is one of the worlds leading women pool players. It’s a very interesting story. But she says even now, you know, she’s been playing for over thirty years professionally, she can be at the pool table and she doesn’t know if its been nine hours or twenty minutes, she gets so lost and absorbed in the process. You find that when people, my wife Terry is a writer and she loses track of time completely. She can be writing for four hours and look up and think it was maybe half an hour. It’s that sense that you’ve become lost and absorbed in the process because it’s something that identifies in a very deep sense with who you are. It really tunes into your own most natural energy.

Susan Bratton: Well it’s funny that you would make a note of the book writing. I, I love doing DishyMix, I love doing interviews, I love preparing for them, I love thinking about you and the things that I want to know…

Sir Ken Robinson: You love thinking about me?

Susan Bratton: I love thinking about you, before you come on the show. And I love thinking about what it is that you know that I can ask you about, that will make a difference in the lives of the people who listen to my show. Like I’m a medium, I like to channel you for them, and I love to have a talk show. I’m in my element when I do a talk show. And I decided to write a book about being a talk show host, because I’ve done hundreds of shows, and I take great pride in my work, and it’s so funny because I’m now writing this ebook with associated files that you get to listen to other talk show hosts and their strategies and all kinds of things, but writing a book about how to be a talk show host, and it’s at http://talkshowtips.com. And it’s so funny because when I write the book about it, I love writing the book about it too, I’m having so much fun writing about what I love. So I think I have the passion of writing it, as well as the passion of doing it.

Sir Ken Robinson: And that’s great, you know, because there’s no sense at all that we’re limited to one thing or another…

Susan Bratton: Right. Great point.

Sir Ken Robinson: I mean some people get that deep sense of doing several different things and for some, you know, it’s more one thing than another or it’s something at different times. You know, and it’s really great if you can make your living doing this…

Susan Bratton: Yes, we’re so lucky.

Sir Ken Robinson: That’s the point I’m trying to make is that this isn’t just that you have to do this for a living. I know lots of people who have a real passion for something that they don’t want to do for a living, they want to keep it separate. It’s something that deeply enriches their lives and actually makes what they do for a living all the more bearable for that, you know…

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Sir Ken Robinson: It’s about having it in your life somewhere.

Susan Bratton: Well I’m lucky that I get to do it for a living.

Sir Ken Robinson: Yes.

Susan Bratton: Here’s a perfect segue. Harvard psychologist Howard Gardener, you talk about him in the book. You have some issues with IQ tests, certain kinds of IQ tests and others that you think are better, and you like this idea of measuring multiple intelligences. Can you name some of those Howard Gardener multiple intelligences, so we can get to thinking bigger about what our intelligence and what our talents are?

Sir Ken Robinson: Well, I can, yes, but let me just back up a little bit on it first. The big point I’m trying to make in the book around this idea of aptitude is that one of the reasons that people don’t discover their own aptitudes is because we often end up with a very narrative of what they, what the possibilities are. I mean I ask people a lot in sessions I do around the world, something which strikes me as really interesting, ask them how many senses they think they have.

Susan Bratton: I love this. I love this part of the book. Thank you for talking about it.

Sir Ken Robinson: Well, you know, most people, if you say, “How many sense have you got?”, you know, without…

Susan Bratton: They say, “Five.”.

Sir Ken Robinson: They’ll say we got five, you know, without missing a beat, like “What’s your problem?” And then I’ll push them and say, “Well do you have any more?” And normally some people say, or several people say, “ Well yes, we got six”, and I say, “What’s that?”, and they’ll say, “Well it’s that intuition.” So people think we got sight and smell and touch and hearing and taste, you know, they’re the five regular senses. And then there’s this other one. And I say, well there’s a difference between the first five and the sixth because the first five all have organs to do it, like eyes and ears and tongues. You know, it’s not quite clear what is intuition, it’s a kind of spooky sense, you know, that girls have more of apparently. Well, you know, when you push them and say, “Do you have any more?”, and most people just draw a blank on that and say, “No, that’s it.” Well, you know, a physiologist will tell you that you have at least nine real senses. One of them, and I talk a lot about this, is the sense of balance. Balance is absolutely fundamental to our functioning in the world.

Susan Bratton: And works well for the Olympic gymnast.

Sir Ken Robinson: Well it’s interesting, see, ‘cause when I, when I said to Bart, we were having dinner one night and I asked him about the sense, and he came up with five, and I said, “Do you have any more?” He said, “No.” So I went through this. I said, “Well what about balance?” He said, “Oh my god, of course.” You know, ‘cause the whole process of being alive and moving around and being in the world depends upon a sense of physical balance, which is mediated by the inner ear. But there’s another sense, which is often thought of as kinesthesia, but the sociologists call it proprioception, which is our understanding of where we are in space, you know, where our livings are. And Bart recognized that, he said, “Yes, actually gymnasts call that air sense.” But then there’s a sense of pain, which is different from a sense of touch, and the other one is a sense of temperature, which is different again from touch, you know, we can’t live without, outside of a different band of temperatures. Well my point is that, that if we underestimate something as basic as the sense that we have, you know, if we’ve grown up thinking there were five and there are at least nine, well what else are we taking for granted that might be wrong, and one of them is the art of intelligence. You know, we’ve all grown up in a system and a culture that’s encouraged us to think that intelligence is the thing that gets measured on an IQ test. You know, people wander around, you know, feeling very proud of themselves if they score over 120 on an IQ test. Well IQ tests do measure something. It’s a variable, by the way, it seems to change and move around a fair amount, but it’s not the whole of intelligence by a long way. You know, it doesn’t even begin to engage in some things in how it talks about how it (unintelligible), about musical intelligence or the things I’m just talking about, you know about…

Susan Bratton: Spatial.

Sir Ken Robinson: Kinesthesia, you know, physical coordination, things of those sorts. And the reason is that we have an industry built around a form of intelligence testing which is based in, I believe, a very narrow view of human ability and capacity. So the beginning of all this, I think, is of helping people to understand that they already have very much more than they’ve been brought up to think they have. A lot of people think if you can’t do well on an academic test, well you’re not very intelligent. But it’s interesting to me how many entrepreneurs I speak to who have no real interest in those sorts of tests at all, but have gone on to be wildly successful afterwards. Some of the most successful people in, where you’re speaking from now, Silicon Valley, you know, dropped out because they weren’t engaged by that type of thinking, but they’ve become wonderfully successful in some other way. So it is, that’s what I mean about promoting diversity through the book. I mean, Howard Gardener, you know, to answer your question, talks about there being seven main forms of intelligence, I think he went on to eight. I think he’s also said there might be a ninth now. Now the thing is I do say in the book that, that I don’t really want to argue about whether there are eight or nine or ten or fifteen really, that’s just another way of thinking about it. What I want to argue is that intelligence is diverse and multi faceted, and different people tab it up in different ways. Some people say there’s three, four, you know, to me that’s not really the point. What I’m trying to do is to get people to realize there is much more to intelligence than this single idea that gets measured on a linear IQ test.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, there were a lot in there. You had the, Robert Sternberg from Tufts. He’s kind of an anti-IQ guy. He said, you know, there’s analytic intelligence, which is what the IQ tests primarily cover, but there’s creative intelligence and practical intelligence…

Sir Ken Robinson: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: You also talked about the Herman, the Herman Brain Dominance Instrument being even better than Myers Briggs, which is, most people know about Myers Briggs, the idea that there’s a cerebral brain and a limbic brain, you know, that’s kind of the interpersonal things that you connect with people, maybe that intuition about people or that personal connection. Some people are very strong at that, and that’s completely marginalized in IQ tests and academic education.

Sir Ken Robinson: I think that’s right. I mean I have issues with all these different categories…

Susan Bratton: You don’t like anything to be stereotyped, I know, but, yeah…

Sir Ken Robinson: I mean, I think Robert Sternberg’s done great work, you know but, I have issues around distinguishing analytic from creative, ‘cause creative involves a great deal of critical thinking and a lot of practical work too. You know, in a way people carve the cake up differently, but what I’m trying to argue for is the cake is much bigger than most people think, and there’s much more in it than most people think and much more intelligence than an IQ test can ever properly begin to assess. But we are in a world still where people think that. I mean, for example, the whole air of intuition, you know, I know, you know, from my own life, and I’m sure you do, that you have profound senses of other people, profound senses of the opportunities that present you, you know, which you can really only describe as, as intuitive, which aren’t rational, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They may be non rational, but they’re not irrational. I mean, when you meet people you often find that you have a genuinely positive or negative sense about your connection to them, which you can’t explain in some form or way, but which probably often turns out to be true. You know, there is very much more to humans intelligence and sensibility that has so far been even broached by the most sophisticated systems of testing, and… I remember one of the things I was very struck by, I was talking about being in a natural history museum, you know, and about how if you go into a natural history museum you can see all these different species pinned up on the walls, you know, this one room you can go in, lots of butterflies pinned up and, you know, over the other side of the room you see all the spiders and the other side all the, all the arachnids, you know, the other spiders and insects. But the thing is it’s a way of thinking about it, but when you go in the world that’s not how it is, you don’t see all the spiders keeping to themselves on one side of the field and all the butterflies flying off somewhere else. You know, in nature these things are all connected. And that’s really my point, that when we come to examine our own capacities and our own intelligence and our own abilities, there are systems of classification, but they’re only that. You know, it’s a way of thinking about it. And what I’m trying to, I think is just shift the frame a little bit and say, “Well can we think about this differently?”, because our feelings are intimately connected to what we know, and what we know is connected to our intuition and so on. And I think that for most organizations we have a pretty poor way of tapping into that richness in our people.

Susan Bratton: I made a little connection between two things that I want to share with you. In The Element, you wrote about Robert Cooper, he’s the author of The Other 90 Percent, and I’m just going to read this small paragraph from your book. He says that “we shouldn’t think of intelligence as happening only in the brain, in our skulls.” He talks about the heart brain and the gut brain. “Whether we have a direct experience”, he says, “does not go directly…”, oh, “Whenever we have a direct experience”, he says, “it does not go directly to the brain in our heads. The first place it goes is to the neurological networks of the intestinal track and heart.” He describes the first of these, the enteric nervous system as the second brain inside the intestines, which is independent of, but also interconnected with the brain in the cranium. He says that this is why we often experience our first reaction to events as a gut reaction. “Whether or not we acknowledge them”, he says, “our gut reactions shape everything we do.” Now I also, let me stitch these two things together for you, I recently interviewed Dacher Keltner. Ken do you know Dacher, have you heard of him yet?

Sir Ken Robinson: I’ve heard, yes, but I don’t know him.

Susan Bratton: You’ve got to get his book; it’s called Born To Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. One of Dacher’s, he has a book full of great research that he’s pulled from everywhere… You do that really well, he does that really well, and one other offer, Dr. Perricone, Nicolas Perricone, he’s an anti aging and beauty guy, he makes like face lotions and things, he pulls research from a body, bodies of work all over the world as well and turns it into a new framework for thinking, and the three of you are really good at that, three books that I think are just A plus for kind of busting open our consciousness into a whole new room, a whole new place with a lot more to think about. And what Dacher said was, one of the things he talked about were vagal superstars. The Vagus nerve is a nerve that goes from the top of your, it goes from your brain all the way down into your gut…

Sir Ken Robinson: That’s right.

Susan Bratton: And he said that he believes that somehow, I guess the cellular makeup of that system is the thing that helps people have empathy and connect to people and get intuition or that, you know, interpersonal, intrapersonal processing that Howard Gardener talks about being one of the ways that we can be really strong, that there are certain people who are vagal superstars. And when I read in this book about Robert Cooper and The Other 90 Percent, I thought, I think they’re all kind of talking about the same thing, and there’s so many people who have that level of talent, and it has, those talents don’t have a very, you know, good, “They’re good with people. They’re people persons” or, but there’s something there that I’m excited about, and I’m stitching it together from multiple places.

Sir Ken Robinson: Yes. I think, I think this is really important, you know. I remember saying, a talk I gave at the Ted conference, making that point that most people think of their bodies as accountable for their head, and it is true if you look at conventional views of intelligence, it all kind of suggests that intelligence is only located in, within your skull. And what all these insights are pointing to is something that we ought to just recognize anyway and should never have forgotten, which is that we are complete organisms. You know, the way we think and feel isn’t just what happens within our skull, we are embodied organisms. You know, we live in a body with a whole range of senses, which are connected to each other and to how we think and how we feel, and we’re also connected to each, to each other, not just within ourselves, but to each other. I was talking recently about this idea of spirituality. I don’t mean in a religious sense, what I mean is that at one level we know that we are essentially energy. That, you know, when we talk about people’s spirits, we’re talking about the sort of energy they have, that life force, you know, that animates our bodies and makes us live and breathe and be alive and think and feel. And we know that can be raised, it can be lowered, I mean as it was with your daughter. If the conditions are wrong, we talk about people being in low spirits or we talk about them being in high spirits. So what I’m getting at when I talk about being energized and energy being created by things we love and being diminished by things that bring us down. But there’s also a sense in which we know that we feel other peoples energies, that we are connected to other people through this energy field that we’re a part of. None of that stuff gets touched by the idea of an IQ test. I mean, some people want to go further than that. I mean, that’s what I mean by spirituality, some people want to go further and talk about spirituality in a theoretical sense, you know, in a supernatural sense or in a religious sense. But, you know, we all have a view of that, and that’s an area we should talk about some more. But the idea that intelligence only happens within our skull, and traditionally on the left hand side of it, is patently nonsense. You know, it, clearly our brains, I mean you don’t even have to say it, you know, are essential to our process of intellectual thought and awareness and being. I mean, take your brain out, you know, it puts you at a considerable disadvantage frankly socially. You know, but equally a brain on its own sitting on the table isn’t going to be much use to you. You know, we are complicated sophisticated organic processes, in which all of our elemental parts contribute. People argue about the relative contributions they make; I mean Cooper wants to argue strongly for what he calls, I think probably metaphorically, a brain in the gut. But we know what he’s talking about, that our sense of empathy, our intuition, our gut feelings, have a powerful role in how we come to think about the world. So that’s really what I’m arguing for. You know, however it’s framed or conceptualized and more and more people contribute to our understanding of if, we have to think of ourselves holistically, in terms of our feelings, spirituality, our intelligence, the range of our attitudes, our sense of possibility. But more than that, we need to think about the way we relate to each other and our connections to each other, because I think the other argument of, in The Element is that if you have aggregations of people who are detached from their talents and detached from a sense of purpose or meaning, you end up with what we often do have, which is dysfunctional communities. So this is a big argument not just about individuals, it’s an argument about the health of our communities, and also, I think, it’s about what we need to face the future economically and culturally. But the point I just want to emphasize, and I think you’re right about it, is that scholars from many different disciplines now are contributing to a common pool of understanding, we’re much more than we would like to believe we were by our own education, and I think even by the intellectual visions that we’ve grown up in.

Susan Bratton: You had talked in that about expanding our approach to the world, and for the last question of the day I wanted to leave everyone with a perspective that you talk about in the book, and that’s the little game, Are You Feeling Lucky, with the five pound note. Will you just share that story as the closing conversation?

Sir Ken Robinson: Yes. There’s, there are, the little sequence I say I found in The Element is, it’s, you know, certainly I get it, which is about aptitude and I love it, which is about passion. I want it is about attitude. And where is it means you often have to go looking for these things; this is why people don’t find their talent, because it’s like natural resources, they’re often buried deep, you have to go checking your self out and finding opportunities. But the attitude thing is really important because one of the reasons I realized as I talk to people that some people are successful in pursuing the things they love to do is because they have a sense of determination about it. They felt open to the possibility. It’s about attitude, it’s about feeling that you deserve it and that you’re willing to make the changes that may be needed. So there’s a lot of research about this. You know, I spoke to people and they’d say, “Well of course I was, I’ve been very lucky.” And often people you speak to who aren’t doing things they love will talk about not being lucky. Well luck is an interesting idea, it sounds as if it’s all about chance, but it isn’t really. I mean, accidents happen to all of us, you know, lucky things, so to speak, serendipitous things happen to all of us. My point is it’s not what happens to you that makes a difference in your life, it’s what you make of what happens to you. So that particular piece that you talk about is from a book called The Luck Factor by a psychologist called Gordon Wiseman, who set up experiments to see how different people responded, and one of them, he set up some people in a café and invited people to come and allegedly to meet him there, people who said that they’d been lucky in tests and people said to be unlucky. And he set a few things up, he put a five-dollar note on the floor just outside the café, he sat somebody else in the café. Anyway, essentially what happened was the people who were lucky, who said they were lucky, identified themselves as lucky more often than not saw the five-dollar note and picked it up before they went into the café, sat there for a bit, if nobody spoke to them they started speaking to the people in the café, asking if it was anybody’s money, and if they said it wasn’t they hung onto it. But they made something of the situation. The people who said they were unlucky more often than not ignored the money, didn’t see it, sat on their own in the café for 20 minutes, then left without speaking to anybody. And his point is that the same situation presented to different people with different attitudes turns into something different, that the crucial factor her is your own sense of expectation, your own sense of possibility, that you create luck as much as have it happen to you. And I think that’s a crucial point in this, that the whole argument really of The Element is that we are responsible in many ways for the lives that we create, and by discovering more about ourselves we can recreate them into something that’s more fulfilling for ourselves and the people of the communities we’re apart of.

Susan Bratton: Beautiful. I’m in full agreement.

Sir Ken Robinson: Thank you.

Susan Bratton: You’re so beautiful when you talk, I just love it. And you speak, you still, you have a crazy travel schedule, are you speaking all over the world still?

Sir Ken Robinson: Yes, yeah…

Susan Bratton: Even more now with the book?

Sir Ken Robinson: Yes, we’ve just done a tour for the book. It got to number seven on the New York Times best seller list, which we’re thrilled about.

Susan Bratton: Wow, that’s so great. Congratulations.

Sir Ken Robinson: And we’ve sold it now into, translation into I think ten, so far then languages.

Susan Bratton: Nice.

Sir Ken Robinson: So, yeah, I feel very psyched about this book. I think it’s about something that’s very important, and I’m very pleased at the response we’ve been getting to it, and I hope people listening will, will enjoy it and read it.

Susan Bratton: Everyone who is listening has enjoyed hearing about it, and I’m sure that we’ll have a lot of people posting for the autographed copy because it’s not everyday you can get a book from a man whose been knighted by the Queen for god sakes. I do want to heart that to our first, our first interview together, and I hope it’s just one of many, where you told he story about what it was like to be knighted by the Queen, and that was such a great story, your visualization of the beef eaters and the whole thing that, if anyone’s listened to Sir Ken today and wants to hear more, that archived episode is still at personallifemedia.com, and you should definitely hear the stories that he tells. He’s a name dropper extraordinaire as well, Paul McCartney and name it, so the Queen is just the beginning. That’s what makes you so darn fun Ken.

Sir Ken Robinson: Well thank you so much Susan. It’s a real pleasure as always…

Susan Bratton: Oh yeah. It’s been great to hear about your success, and I’m not surprised, and thanks for the work that you’re doing in the world. It’s really important, so thank you.

Sir Ken Robinson: Thank you very much.

Susan Bratton: Alright. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. You’ve gotten to know Sir Ken Robinson, author of the new number seven on the New York Times best seller list book called The Element. I hope you’ll pick up a copy for yourself, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the show. Don’t forget that if you want the autographed copy, you just go to dishymixfan.com. And I wanted on final reminder, to let you know that you can get notified every week when Dishy Mix goes live. You just have to go to personallifemedia.com and sign up. Just says “Notify my” and click. It’s a one second sign up, and you’ll get a notification each week about what fabulous thing I have for you. So I hope you’ll sign up for that. I hope you’ll have a great day. I hope you learned something from Sir Ken, and I’ll see you next week.