The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life Paperback – Sep 24 2002
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The lure of this book's promise starts with the assumption in its title: The Art of Possibility. Possibility--that big, all-encompassing, wide-open-door concept--is an art? Well, who doesn't want to be a skilled artist, whether in the director's chair, the boardroom, on the factory floor, or even just in dealing with life's everyday situations? Becoming an artist, however, requires practice, and what the authors of The Art of Possibility offer is a set of practices designed to "initiate a new approach to current conditions, based on uncommon assumptions about the nature of the world".
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 simply transform its readers into "nicer" people. Instead, it's a collection of illustrations and advice that suggest 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 recognises 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 to produce an outcome. 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 colour 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 readers' emotional intelligence and desire to engage, promising access to the rewards of that door-opening notion--possibility--in return. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In a lively, sensible manual for turning life's obstacles into possibilities, the Zanders introduce various "tools" for transformation, drawing on their extensive experiences with musicians, students and patients in therapy (Rosamund is a psychotherapist and painter; Benjamin is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic). In a chapter entitled "Giving an A," for example, Benjamin relates a classroom technique that allows students to envision their own futures: all students in his class receive an A if they write him a postdated letter relating "the story of what will have happened to you by next May that is in line with this extraordinary grade." Other chapters emphasize practices such as thinking in terms of making a personal "contribution" rather than stark "success or failure"; "lightening up" in order to see a problem from a new perspective (e.g., a patient of Rosamund's was able to have a sensual experience with her husband even though she was angry at him); and reassessing "frameworks for possibility" (e.g., a teacher shaved her head in order to "reframe the meaning" of a hairless class member who had leukemia). The authors' emphasis on "practice," the importance of "flow" and the joy in creation and expression is apt and often truly inspiring. Although not groundbreaking, the Zanders' suggestions constitute sound, practical advice that has much in common with Zen concepts of holism, balance and grace.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This gem of a book will be useful not only in managing one's life, but also in helping other's to create their great life stories. The answers to core questions like "which game of success will I choose to play?","will I choose to be a contribution?", and "do I take myself too ___seriously?" are keys to a life of joy, meaning, and fulfillment.
Can you see the work of art within you? Within others? Or are you focusing on the facade? Who is winning the battle between the caculating self and the central self? Are you vulnerable or are you permeable? What is here now? And what do you want to do from here? Get yourself this book and engage in THE joyous adventure of opening up to your possibilities.
"The Art of Possibility" by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander is one of those books.
This book is part philosophy, part creativity, part business coaching, and part common sense. It shares stories of a world of possibilities if only we shift our focus -- it's not even a BIG shift -- just small things anyone can do to dramatically improve not only their lives, but the lives of those with whom we interact.
Each chapter begins with an outline of that section's idea, moves into stories demonstrating that concept from both Rosamund and Benjamin, and then closes with ways to put the concept into action. My favorites so far are "Give Everyone an A", "Rule #6", and "BTFI". My thanks to the Zanders for giving us a book that not only deserves to be at the top of everyone's reading stack, but deserves to be slipped right back into the stack to begin its cycle back to my hands to read again and again.
I need not have worried because this is in no way a self-help book. Readers will find no quick fixes or tricks here, and so it is bound to disappoint those seeking psychological sticking-plasters (as we can see in a review below). Rather the Zanders offer sets of practices - "possibilities to live into" - which, due to the way society has conditioned us, are extremely demanding to put into practise. Each idea is illustrated with real life accounts from the Zanders to demonstrate the idea in action. Most impressive is the willingness and honesty with which the Zanders discuss their own faults and mistakes. This rather proves the point that the ideas they propose are in no way easy to perfect, in this less than perfect world. Just as in learning a musical instrument, or acquiring a new skill there are no shortcuts. However, as with most worthwhile skills, the effort is more than repaid by the consequences of living into possibility.
The greatest compliment that I can pay the Zanders is that I have read and re-read the book many times, and practice it every day. I can't claim to be successful, but in the attempt have created waves that continue to open up possibilities I would not have considered possible before I read this book.
I highly recommend The Art of Possibility to anybody seriously seeking to release their full potential from the control of our human conditioning.
It reminds me a bit of Zen or Tao. Being in the present, not assigning blame, recognizing that is the way things are...
I couldn't read the book in one sitting. I found that it requires a lot of thought and reflection. Parts that I found inspirational were the white papers that were written by the musicians in response to a request from the conductor.
Some of the principles seemed to really line up well with the popular book from a few years ago "7 spiritual laws of success" by Deepak Chopra.
I would like to hear the authors read this as a book-on-tape, because I found myself thinking about things while I was trying to read. In a nutshell, the book says "put your life into a different playing field, Don't think win-win, think about making a contribution or about making a difference."
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent leadership book for all industries in addition to nonprofit.Published 5 months ago by Onemine
I hate self-help books but love this one. The fresh writing style with stories I could relate to, had me unable to put this down. I go back and re-read sections of it regularly.Published 11 months ago by Diane Harper
Amazon reminded me that I bought this book in 2003. Twelve years later, I still bring it out from time to time because it remains an inspiring read. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Burton
The Zanders have offered great slices of how to think differently about how we view the events of our lives.. Read morePublished on July 7 2014 by Beemer Jim
A wonderful reminder of the possibility each of us is and the glory of being part of the WE. A gift to all who read this inspirational book.Published on Feb. 16 2014 by Mike Languay
I can't think of another book I've read where I was moved to tears so many times by example after example of human greatness. Read morePublished on Sept. 2 2013 by Susan S
I finished a book last night - The Art of Possibility. Great title but not as inspiring as I had hoped. It did have one quote that I liked. Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2008 by J. Estill
Ugh. How much of this Werner Erhard inspired sludge will we have to endure before the whole disgusting mess either dissipates or compacts down into an easily disposed of loaf? Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2004
After reading the reviews here, I thought this book might be a nice inspirational read. It has a few decent moments, but for the most part I could barely force myself to keep... Read morePublished on Feb. 2 2004 by ascetic
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