Sunday, 11 January 2009

The Art of Possibility: Benjamin and Rosamund Zander

The objective of this book is to provide . . . the means to lift off from . . . struggle and sail into a vast universe of possibility.' Benjamin Zander is the conductor of The Boston Philharmonic and is well known for his orchestra's passionate performances. Rosamund Stone Zander is an executive coach, family therapist, and private practitioner who brings enormous psychological perspective to enhancing human behavior. They have written a fascinating book in which they alternate as voices in sharing principles and examples in the form of compelling stories. The idea is to help you create in yourself and in others 'transformational' improvements. They share a series of perspectives designed to improve your understanding of what and where the potential is.

1. Humans tend to focus on very few things, missing most of what is going on around them. By shifting focus, you will see many opportunities for the first time. Be careful about your assumptions! They can fence you in!

2. Measurements can cause us to focus too narrowly on where we are today and encourage scarcity thinking -- the glass is half empty. The Zanders encourage thinking about the glass as half full, citing the well-known perspective of optimism as being empowering. This can help you 'step into a university of possibility.'

3. If you assume that people will do well and help them see how they can, they will. Mr. Zander gives every student an A in his class, and simply requests that the student write a paper to tell what they will do to deserve the A. This gets the students focused on excellence, and takes away the tension that harms accomplishment.

4. As a mindset, think of your role as 'being a contributor.' 'You are a gift to others.' How could that change what you do?

5. Lead from any chair. This is a reference to involving everyone. Mr. Zander asks his players to write down how he could improve practices and peformances, and pays attention to the suggestions.

6. Follow rule number six. That rule is to 'lighten up.'

7. Be present to the ways things are. Many of us are disconnected from reality. By re-touching it, we can see more possiblities.

8. Give way to passion. Going with your strong feelings allows you to be more authentic, and to go to new heights of accomplishment.

9. Light a spark. See your role as creating a spark of possibility to be lit that others can see.

10. Be the board of the game you are playing. This makes it easier to see how you can make a difference.

11. Create a vision that generates 'frameworks of possibility' for others.

12. Tell the WE story. Focus on being inclusive and considering what is best for all. Move from I to We, as the Coda to the book encourages.

My personal favorite is #3. What's yours? You may order the book here. (Notice the book cover colour? It's Mimosa. Ha!)

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