Being in your Element is where your natural aptitudes meet your passions.
What are aptitudes and how do you discover yours?
Aptitudes have to do with your biological constitution. They are the natural talents that you were born with. Some aptitudes may show themselves early in your life; others may stay hidden because the opportunity to draw on them never arises.
Think about your best friend from childhood. Maybe he was very good with engines and was able to not only strip down bikes and motorcycles to find out how they worked, but also to put them back together again in a way that they work better than before. Later on your friend was maybe fixing automobiled engines. Only by listening to the engines he probably could tell you the problem and find a solution. He might even have a vast knowledge of cars, brands and models and all the engine details. This is called a natural aptitude for how things work.
You have probably found in your own life that some things you do come easily to you and others do not. We are all the same in this respect. You might be naturally good at sports or have a flair for making things and using tools.
Aptitudes and Abilities
There is a difference between aptitudes and abilities. Aptitudes are part of your raw potential. Abilities often require a considerable amount of education to develop. Just because you have a natural proclivity toward something doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be expert at it. For example, human beings have a natural aptitude for language. But learning to speak is a cultural process. It’s the same with reading and writing. In ordinary circumstances, everyone has the necessary aptitudes for literacy. But many children and adults can’t read or write. They simply haven’t learned how to do it.
Just as you have your own fingerprints and DNA profile, you have a unique profile of aptitudes.
Being in your Element takes both aptitude and ability. It involves finding your natural talents and honing them in practice. It is a union of nature and nurture. It may take much less effort to become good at something that comes naturally to you than at something that doesn’t, but if you don’t make that effort, you’ll never know what you might have achieved if you’d persevered.
Your DNA Blueprint
Certain general aptitudes come as standard issue and some do not. Within these general aptitudes, you have your own personal strengths and weaknesses that are part of your unique biological inheritance. Just as you have your own fingerprints and DNA profile, you have a unique profile of aptitudes.
Ken Robinson, PhD, 2013, Finding your Element, Penguin Books, USA, 256 pp.