People over the age of thirty were born before the digital revolution really started. We've learned to use digital technology-laptops, cameras, personal digital assistants, the Internet-as adults, and it has been something like learning a foreign language. Most of us are okay, and some are even expert. We do e-mails and PowerPoint, surf the Internet, and feel we're at the cutting edge. But compared to most people under thirty and certainly under twenty, we are fumbling amateurs. People of that age were born after the digital revolution began. They learned to speak digital as a mother tongue.
One of the strongest signs of being in the zone is a sense of freedom and of authenticity. When we are doing something that we love and are naturally good at, we are much more likely to feel centered in our true sense of self - to be who we feel we truly are. When we are in our Element, we feel we are doing what we are meant to be doing and being who we're meant to be.
It's not what happens to us that makes the difference in our lives. What makes the difference is our attitude towards what happens. The idea of luck is a powerful way of illustrating the importance of our basic attitudes in affecting whether or not we find our Element.
One way of opening ourselves up to new opportunities is to make conscious efforts to look differently at our ordinary situations. Doing so allows a person to see the world as one rife with possibility and to take advantage of some of those possibilities if they seem worth pursuing.
Research indicates that, as long as we keep using our brains in an active way, we continue to build neural pathways as we get older. This gives us not only the ongoing potential for creative thought, but also an additional incentive for continuing to stretch ourselves.
Now, I don't mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original. If you're not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatize mistakes. And we're now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make.
Governments decide they know best and they're going to tell you what to do. The trouble is that education doesn't go on in the committee rooms of our legislative buildings. It happens in classrooms and schools, and the people who do it are the teachers and the students. And if you remove their discretion, it stops working.
We need to eliminate the existing hierarchy of subjects. Elevating some disciplines over others only reinforces outmoded assumptions of industrialism and offends the principle of diversity. The arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, languages and maths all have equal and central contributions to make to a student's education.
The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak; when you’re present in the current moment; when you’re resonating with the excitement of this thing that you’re experiencing; when you are fully alive.
The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed. 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 passions.
You were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid — things you liked — on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that: ‘Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician. Don’t do art, you won’t be an artist.’ Benign advice — now, profoundly mistaken.
If you're fifty, exercise your mind and body regularly, eat well, and have a general zest for life, you're likely younger - in very real, physical terms - than your neighbor who is forty-four, works in a dead-end job, eats chicken wings twice a day, considers thinking too strenuous, and looks at lifting a beer glass as a reasonable daily workout.