The Art of Possibility – It’s like music for all humankind

“I have a definition of success. For me, it’s very simple. It’s not about wealth and fame and power. It’s about how many shining eyes I have around me.” ― Benjamin Zander

“I’ll never say anything that couldn’t stand as the last thing I’ll ever say.”― Benjamin Zander

Well, it’s still January, and if you’re looking for something to keep you busy for the next twelve months or so, The Art of Possibility by Rosamond Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander is waiting for you!

But first, let me tell you about our co-author, Benjamin Zander. If you have a moment, I encourage you to watch this YouTube video. I laughed, I nodded, and was moved to tears, more than once. This is a powerful man… and he needs to be, as the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also a delightful, melodic, optimistic personality who is at home in a crowded room or concert hall.

His partner Rosamund (Roz) Zander is more of the intimate gathering type, with a private practice in family therapy. She’s no slouch leading a room full of people to be better versions of themselves, either!

Their vision encompasses all of their strengths and, like a great piece of music, weaves individual expression  -along with that of the whole – into something beautiful. That is this book!

This is, at the title suggests, a book of possibility! It is – as they say in the introduction (called “Launching the Journey”) – not about self-improvement. Instead it is a “total shift of posture, perception, belief, and thought processes.” It’s about transformation. Ah, one of my favorite words!

There are 12 Practices:

  1. It’s All Invented
  2. Stepping into a Universe of Possibility
  3. Giving an A
  4. Being a Contribution
  5. Leading from Any Chair
  6. Rule Number 6
  7. The Way Things Are
  8. Giving Way to Passion
  9. Lighting a Spark
  10. Being the Board
  11. Creating Frameworks for Possibility
  12. Telling the WE Story

You don’t have to take one a month, of course… but I like the idea. This is not a book to breeze through – not at all. You’ll want time.

If you’re like me, you’ll feel great reading this book because it not only asks you to consider the possibilities, it demands it. I like bossy books like that! Kidding, kinda. But listen, if you do as this book asks, you really can change your life.

Take this: “I am the framework for everything that happens in my life.” This is in chapter 10 (Being the Board). In this chapter, the idea of victimization is tossed on its head. “I am the framework” is not the same thing as “I am in total control,” because we know we are NOT. However, how we handle what happens to us is where the power lies… and this is where the concept of grace kicks in. Grace comes from “owning the risks we take in the world”… and there are many, every day, which are often totally out of our control. Driving to work, walking through a parking lot, eating dinner, sewing a button on a shirt… all carry risk. Once we realize this, the power comes from how we react, whether we sail through without incident or the worst occurs.

MAN, THAT’S POWERFUL STUFF!!!

It’s funny. The cover of this book is kind of boring, which is why I pushed it aside a half-dozen times. I’m so glad I picked it up and read it… totally NOT boring… totally worth it.

One caveat: Benjamin Zander uses classical music as his muse… a LOT. If you hate classical music – well, first, I’d challenge you to watch that YouTube video and tell me if he doesn’t change your mind – you may not appreciate his ample contributions to the book. That would be a shame.

PS: I shared the quotes above because they move me deeply. Shiny eyes and treating anything I say as possibly the last thing I’ll say to someone… what could be more important?

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