- File Size: 858 KB
- Print Length: 218 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (September 24, 2002)
- Publication Date: September 24, 2002
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00N1KJ76E
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,302 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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If that sounds a little too airy-fairy for you, don't be put off; this is no mere self-improvement book, with a wimpy mandate to transform its readers into "nicer" people. Instead, it's a collection of illustrations and advice that suggests a way to change your entire outlook on life and, in the process, open up a new realm of possibility. Consider, for example, the practice of "Giving an A," whether to yourself or to others. Not intended as a way to measure someone's performance against standards, this practice instead recognizes that "the player who looks least engaged may be the most committed member of the group," and speaks to their passion rather than their cynicism. It creates possibility in an interaction and does away with power disparities to unite a team in its efforts. Or consider "Being the Board," where instead of defining yourself as a playing piece, or even as the strategist, you see yourself as the framework for the entire game. In this scenario, assigning blame or gaining control becomes futile, while seeking to become an instrument for effective partnerships becomes possible.
Packed with such examples of personal and professional interactions, the book presents complex ideas on perception and recognition in a readable, useable style. The authors' combined, eclectic experience in music and painting (as well as family therapy and executive workshops) infuses their examples with vibrant color and sound. The relevance to corporate situations and relationships is well developed, and they don't rely on dry case studies to do it. Indeed, this book assumes the emotional intelligence and desire to engage of its reader, promising access to the rewards of that door-opening notion--possibility--in return. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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The Art of Possibility is full of examples to emphasize that life works better when you have a positive mental outlook. The authors tell a story of two shoe factory salesmen exploring new markets in Africa. After assessing the situation, both send telegrams:
SITUATION HOPELESS. STOP. NO ONE WEARS SHOES.
GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. STOP. THEY HAVE NO SHOES.
"The one who sees no shoes, all the evidence points to hopelessness. To his colleague, the same conditions point to abundance and possibility," say the Zanders. Through easy to understand examples like this the authors drive home their point. I also liked the stories the Zanders share from their professions. Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Rosamund Stone Zander (nickname of "Roz" in the book) has a private practice in family therapy.
The Art of Possibility is more than just pie in the sky optimism. The Zanders recommend a realistic approach to negative thoughts and feelings. Their approach "doesn’t mean you should drown out your negative feelings or pretend you like what you really can’t stand. It doesn’t mean you should work to achieve some 'higher plane of existence' so you can 'transcend negativity'," they feel. "It simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense. The capacity to be present to everything that is happening, without resistance, creates possibility."
Reading the book led me to challenge some of my limiting beliefs. "We can replace the narratives that hold us back by inventing wiser stories, free from childish fears, and in doing so, disperse long-held psychological stumbling blocks," say the Zanders. Perhaps our interpretations of the events in our lives do not match reality. "We see a map of the world, not the world itself," the authors feel.
The book is about 200 pages, written in 12 chapters for 12 different practices. Most of the practices are perspective-practices that try to trigger you into a different way of thinking about yourself and about the world. For example, the practice of "Giving an A" is the practice that asks to always look at people from their potential perspective and avoid judging them directly. Always give an A to people... think the best of them and that will get out the best of them.
All other practices are similar. I find them useful, yet at times native. However, they aren't very concrete and they all kinda relate is seeing the world from the perspective of... possibility.
I dwell in Possibility – (466)
BY EMILY DICKINSON
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –
And John Keats idea of Negative Capability. Negative capability is a term that has been used by poets and philosophers to describe the ability of the individual to perceive, think, and operate beyond any presupposition of a predetermined capacity of the human being.
"What is now proved was only once imagined." - William Blake
And Walt Whitman - “I am large. I contain multitudes.”
Just an observation.
This book was an easy read and while it was written in the early 2000's, I read in in 2018 and it has helped me to think differently.
I would have given this book 5 stars, except that it's not a book that's like a "WOW!" book. It's a fun read but not something I would recommend for fun. The book was an easy read and I wish it was updated to a newer edition. If the authors do decide to create an updated edition, I would absolutely buy it for a "2018 perspective".
Top international reviews
Ben Zander's background is in music and many of the scenarios in the book have a musical context. The message is always applicable to any situation though.
An open mind is essential if you are to consider where the ideas might take you. It has taken me two months to read it once because I wanted to appreciate each of the practices before moving on. In my case it couldn't be rushed. I'm about to begin reading it again and I expect to find different perspectives.
The book is jointly written with Rosamund Stone Zander who is a family therapist. Drawing equally on Rosamund's experience and that of Benjamin's conducting the world's orchestras, including the Boston Philharmonic, the book takes the form of a `How to' which instead of providing strategies to overcome life's obstacles, invites the reader into a world of opportunities.
With many references to his life in music in the form of analogy and experience, the book sets out a dozen practices which will bring the power of opportunity into your life. The practices are all simple. Each provides a story based explanation of its value drawn from the personal experience gained in the USA and UK by the two authors, and straightforward instruction on its use.
As always with the best advice, there is no rocket science here, though the book is more powerful for this, not less. For example `Giving an A' simply suggests that by approaching everyone we meet prepared and ready to see their best, this very act has already created energy to improve outcomes and create new opportunities in what they achieve. The book's graphic examples bring these simple approaches to life and provide evidence of the power of apparently simple ideas.
This is a powerful book. I read this book on a flight to Khartoum, and found some of the insights and examples quite moving. Occasionally the musical references left me struggling a little, but served to highlight a need to learn more and in no way diminished the value of the messages.
I heartily recommend this book to everyone determined to improve their lives and in search of simple ways in which to begin.
The best way to explain this title is that each chapter communicates an idea. Each idea is a new way of opening up possibility within your life. The book starts off with stripping away what is invented in your life and truely helps to realise that most of the material things around us are invented. The other ideas in the book follow on to describe plenty of ways to enhance and increase possibility from everyday situations.
The authors describe many of the ideas through examples of their experiences with the method. In fact, some of the examples within the book are the actual reason why they realised the idea in the first place.
The Art of Possibility is a great title for helping to realise how possibility can open up new chapters and be used as an approach to any situation in a positive light and in the hope to get more.
Full of stories of lives lived in an iconoclastic way, of applying radical ideas in practical experiments.
It's a brilliant book that will make you think twice about your life. And I don't say 'life' in a very self-help way, it's more about the way you conduct yourself. It won't solve a specific problem but it will open up a door of possibility.