Are you becoming who you really wanted to be ? ( Lessons from Coelho and Huffington ) - Executips


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Are you becoming who you really wanted to be ? ( Lessons from Coelho and Huffington )

Photo by Johnny Delos Santos

Dear Robert,

I hear and read stories about people who absolutely love what they do, and are motivated to do everything they can to make it work. 

Case in point: Ed Sheeran. He sucked at school, didn't really focus on anything until he found music. He met Damien Rice and was profoundly inspired to be just like him. He practiced, practiced, and practiced, did gigs for free just to get his music out there.

Do you have advice for us who don't know what we want to do? For us who've tried a lot of things, but never got hit by that seemingly elusive passion arrow? 


People discover their “element” at different times in their lives and through different ways. In the book The Element, Sir Ken Robinson* described the element as “the meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion.” He also wrote “when we are in our element, we feel we are doing what we are meant to be doing and who we were meant to be.”

To know your element, answer the question Dr. Robinson wants you to ask yourself: if left to my own devices –if I didn’t have to worry about making a living or what others thought of me –what am I most drawn to doing ?

To some people, the answer comes easy. To others, like the email sender, the enlightenment is elusive and delayed. In the same book, Dr. Robinson cited examples of how some well-known achievers knew they were doing what they really wanted to do:

Being in the Zone

Ewa Lawrence, ranked No.1 female billiards player in the world, felt an unexplainable attraction to the sport on the first time she entered a pool hall. She narrated “ I loved the whole thing –this dark room with lights over each table and the clicking of the balls. I just thought it was mesmerizing right off the bat.”

Aaron Sorkin is the author of A Few Good Men among many other stories and has been nominated several times for Emmy, Golden Globes and Oscar Awards. When he was writing, he was deeply “in the zone. “ He said “ I feel completely lost in the process.”

Finding your tribe

Dr. Robinson explained that “for most people, a primary component of being in their Element is connecting with other people who share their passion and a desire to make the most of themselves through it. “ He related the story of actress Meg Ryan who used to freeze in front of an audience. Later in life, she became very comfortable in front of the camera after she “found the world of actors fascinating. “  She told Dr. Robinson “ I was around hilarious people. The job was like being in this nutty extended family. It was a kick. “

The compelling feeling

Many people have told me that they know in their hearts what they really want, but such compulsion is eventually repressed because of external pressure. Dr. Robinson recognized the influence of parents who have other dreams for us.

He also identified “groupthink” as a potential dream killer. It is like when we begin to hate science or the dance class because our friends say it’s uncool.

Paolo Coelho has become one of the world’s most-loved authors after having written The Alchemist, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, among many other worldwide bestsellers. Coelho’s parents put Paolo in a mental institution three times. They wanted Paolo to become a lawyer so they had him subjected to electroshock therapy to “drive these destructive notions” of becoming a writer “ out of his head.

But Paolo went on to write The Alchemist which became the world’s most translated book by a living author.

Dr. Robinson also told the story of a young girl in Greece named Arianna Stasinopoulos. At thirteen years old, she dreamed of going to school in Cambridge. “Everybody she told about this…said it was ridiculous idea. She was a girl, it was too expensive, she had no connections there, and this was one of the most prestigious universities n the world. No one took her seriously. “

But her mother supported the dream. They found cheap air tickets to London, Arianna won a scholarship. She graduated from Cambridge with an M.A. in economics. At 21 “she became the first woman president of the famed debating society, Cambridge Union. “

Now living in the United States, she is  known as Arianna Huffington, author of eleven books and founder of the Huffington Post. “In 2006, Time magazine put her on their list of the world’s hundred most influential people.”

Coelho and Huffington proved that not even all the armies of the world can stop a dream whose time must come.

I think there is a voice in your head that will keep telling you "this is what you were born to do. " Or you may believe Coelho when he wrote in The Alchemist " when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. " I believe it. I seem to have attracted all opportunities to be what I wanted to be.

In the book From Good to Great, Jim Collins said that companies found success when they answered these the questions :

1. What are we passionate about ?
2. What are we the best in the world at ?
3. What drives our economic engine ? (meaning " what can we earn a lot from?" )

Maybe, answering the same questions can help put you on the path to your Element and your destiny. ( To some people, question no.3 is optional. )

Here’s a revelation from Pablo Picasso, perhaps the most celebrated painter of the 20th century. He said “my mother said to me, ’if you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter and became Picasso.”

* Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D, is an English author, and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. He was knighted in 2003. He wrote the book The Element together with Lou Aronica.

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