The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander & Ben Zander
Note: This post is longer than one of my normal reviews. It is a Cliff Note type of experiment designed for Explorers who either don't have the time to read the whole book or choose not to.
There are many different ways to look at a situation or problem, right? You know that. But how often do you consider more ways than one, namely, the first one that comes to mind?
The Zanders' premise behind this book is that most often the framework of assumptions we place around circumstances block us in our daily lives. Change the framework and possibilites are possible.
The book is written around twelve practices designed to transform our outlook, perceptions, beliefs and thought processes. An Amazon reviewer recaps the practices here.
To guide us into a receptive frame of thought and set the book's tone, the Zanders begin with:
A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region in Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying: Situation hopeless Stop no one wears shoes. The other writes back triumphantly: Glorious business opportunity Stop they have no shoes.
Moving forward here and at Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness I am going to slowly assemble a library that consists of foundational books that I believe to be of importance to the Explorer. The Art of Possibility is the first book that I am placing into this collection.
Of the twelve practices designed to transform our perception, I feel a strong connection with the Explorer to the following five:
- It's All Invented
- Giving an A
- Being a Contribution
- The Way Things Are
- Creating Frameworks of Possibility
To be real, any or all of the twelve apply. These are the ones that resonate in my framework of the Explorer creating a universe of possibility.
It's All Invented - The world is. Our perception of the world is created by life-long programming or mental maps. Our mind percieves and or constructs based upon what it knows. This is what Ben and Roz mean by it's all invented. They go onto suggest that we might as well invent a framework that enhances our quality of life then. Here's their process:
First ask yourself:
What assumption am I making, that I'm not aware I'm making, that gives me what I see?
What might I now invent, that I haven't yet invented, that would give me other choices?
Do you see a hopeless situation where no one wears shoes? Or do you see a big opportunity?
Giving an A - The Zanders reference Michelangelo when they say, "inside every block of stone or marble dwells a beautiful statue; one need only remove the excess material to reveal the work of art within."
They then bring this concept into a child's education. Chip away at the stone. "...getting rid of whatever is in the way of each child's developing skills, mastery and self-expression." When a teacher presents the child with an A upfront, the child does not have to live up to a measurement of some preset standard, it gives them room to evolve from inside the block of stone. It focuses the teacher on chipping away at that stone as well. And, it focuses both on the outcome...the beautiful statue within.
Although Ben uses an example from his classroom where he actually did give students an A based on them carrying out his instruction, the idea of giving an A transcends the classroom to our dealings with one another. And by giving the A we speak to the recipient's passion. The Zanders say, "This A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into."