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The Art of Possibility: Transforming…
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The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life (2000)

by Rosamund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
8.14
  aletheia21 | Sep 12, 2014 |
After two chapters I was in full skim-and-dash mode. I was disappointed, depressed, and wanting to do nothing more than throw it all away as a waste of time. But I am not like that. Even if I fear I have taken the first steps of a meaningless journey through empty platitudes and mindless ideas, I will complete that journey. Once I start a book, I will (except for a very, very, few exceptions) finish it. That doesn't mean I have to pay close attention. Skimming means I am reading. But I will get through it.

This book proves why it is so important to keep plodding through. Had I not done so, I would have missed a lot.

A few years ago I saw Benjamin Zander speak and I was very impressed. Recently I had cause to revisit some of the principles he talked about, looking up his TED talk as well as some other videos of his presentations. (Check the TED talk out; it will not disappoint.) It was enough to make me take the leap and buy the book. I knew I was running the risk of this being another feel-good, we-are-the-world, kumbaya tome. But, based on what I had seen of his work, I took that chance.

And, as you saw, the first set of pages lead me to believe my fears were well founded.

And then I got into Chapter 3 – "Giving an A" – and I found myself deeply wrapped within the ideas and concepts that were being spun. Yes, the concept is simple. Rather than judging people – making them earn your respect – start with the idea that they have already received an "A" and see what happens.

Now, if I were you and I were just reading this out of context, I know I would respond in much the same way I did to the early parts of the book. "Yeah, nice story, tell me something I can use." But in the context of the book – in the context of the stories – there is something in this simple idea that resounds within me.

Here's a quote from the chapter. "...I actively train my students that when they make a mistake, they are to lift their arms in the air, smile, and say, 'How fascinating!'" Here's another. "A cynic, after all, is a passionate person who does not want to be disappointed again." Just two dog-eared pages from the many that eventually populated this little book.

What I found within were not so much motivational things for me (although readers will find those if that is what they need); rather I found ideas and concepts that have more to do with leadership and motivating others, about new ways to approach old problems, and ideas that have practical applications in life, the universe, and everything.

Don't get me wrong. There were down times. I still stumbled across chapters that left me just as cold as those first two, situations where autopilot kicked in and I was reading just trying to get to something I cared about. But when I did arrive at those destinations I was floored by the impact of what was being said.

I think the point of all of this is that your mileage may differ. And that is as it should be for this type of book. I never got Who Moved My Cheese, but exec after exec seemed to think it was the greatest thing since cheese without holes. And so you may read this and wonder what I am going on about. Or you may read it and say that chapters one and two were the greatest words ever written and what the bleep did I see in chapter three. Or your reactions may be all over the board.

All I can say is that I will be stealing – I'm sorry, make that borrowing – many of the ideas and concepts as I train others about leadership and self-direction. And I think that, if you give it a chance, you will find things that will make a difference for you, also. ( )
  figre | Aug 11, 2014 |
A little bit too kool-aid/landmarky for me. ( )
  RubyA | Mar 30, 2013 |
I've read a million-and-one self improvement books, so it isn't very often that I find something that I haven't heard already. This book had several eye-opening topics for me. I was drawn into the book and had trouble putting it down. I especially liked the topic of 'giving yourself an A.' It is such a simple thing, but really altered my philosophy. This will be a book that I pick up over and over. ( )
  buildingabookshelf | Nov 27, 2011 |
This audio delivers on its title. It provides thoughts that allow you to step outside the box in how you approach dreams, goals and your outlook on life. I highly recommend this entertaining audio. ( )
  GShuk | Jun 4, 2011 |
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Zander, BenjaminAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142001104, Paperback)

The lure of this book's promise starts with the assumption in its title. 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 discipline, 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 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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Presenting twelve breakthrough practices for bringing creativity into all human endeavors, this book is the dynamic product of an extraordinary partnership. It combines Benjamin Zander's experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander's genius for designing innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment. The authors' harmoniously interwoven perspectives provide a deep sense of the powerful role that the notion of possibility can play in every aspect of life. Through uplifting stories, parables, and personal anecdotes, the Zanders invite readers to become passionate communicators, leaders, and performers whose lives radiate possibility into the world.… (more)

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