Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander: The Art of Possibility – Transforming Professional and Personal Life
I have been reading several books since my last book blog but none of them really touched me. This one did! The art of possibility is an interesting and different book.
It is written by two persons with quite different backgrounds. Rosamund Zander is an executive coach and family systems therapist and she has developed models for leadership, relationship and effective action. In addition to her work with children and families she has worked with corporations and government agencies. Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic since 1979. He is a music teacher, guest conductor and a sought-after speaker to major organizations for his presentations on leadership and creativity.
The interesting thing is that reading this book makes you feel good instantly. Somehow the stories in the book take you to a pleasant journey that uplifts your spirits.
This book has 12 fascinating “practices” that help you transform your life. I will just highlight a three of them.
The first premise of the book is that much more is possible that people ordinarily think. No matter how objective we try to be, it is still through the structure of the brain that we perceive the world. So, if there are absolutes, we have no direct access to their existence. The mind constructs.
The questions we could ask ourselves is: What assumptions am I making, that I’m not aware I’m making, that gives me what I see? And when we have an answer to that we could ask: What might I now invent, that I haven’t yet invented, that would give me other choices?
This is how our brain is constructed and if we want a change in our lives this is the first thing that we need to address and understand. Every story we tell is founded on a network of hidden assumptions. We need to learn to notice and distinguish the stories that lead to unwanted conditions. We can’t magically change the conditions, but we can change the assumptions we base our life to assumptions that allow the conditions we desire.
An entertaining example of these assumptions is the old story about the shoe factory:
A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One send back a telegram saying: “situation hopeless stop no one wears shoes”. The other writes back triumphantly: “glorious business opportunity stop they have no shoes!”.
Another practice is “The way things are”. This is like being mindfully present and accepting the facts without adding our own interpretations or conclusions about the facts. Capacity to be present to everything that is happening, without resistance, creates possibility. We should start from “what is”, not from “what should be”. For example, rain is neither good or bad – rain just is.
One of the last practices in the book is “Being the board”, which means that you rename yourself as the board on which the whole game is being played. “Gracing yourself with responsibility for everything that happens in your life leaves your spirit whole, and leaves you free to choose again.” You accept the risks of the world, and instead of looking for someone to blame, you ask yourself “Well, how did this get on the board that I am? This gives you the power to transform your experience of any unwanted condition into one with which you care to live.
This book offers fresh and inspiring methods for transforming your life! These methods are based in neuroscience and positive psychology, but are wrapped in a way that makes the reading of the book a real pleasure. You can read the book as a guide to your personal transformation or as any novel to be enjoyed at any time you think you need some warmth and uplifting in your life!