Ben Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and Roz Zander is a family therapist. Their book is based on the concept that if we draw a different framework around the same circumstances in our lives, we will see new possibilities and options to live into. Possibilities that will transform our lives through different paradigms of success and happiness.
The book offers 12 powerful practices to move your perspective and open new possibilities. Even if you can’t change the circumstances you’re facing, you can change how you deal with those situations.
If you’re ready to open your mind to new ways of thinking and to an abundance of possibilities that make all your dreams come true, this transformational book is a must read.
There are 12 powerful lessons from The Art of Possibility
1. It’s all invented
When you’re faced with a problem, all the assumptions you make about it are frameworks in your mind. The book remind us that a problem is a set of circumstances that we have constructed a view of.
“A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying,
STOP, THEY DON’T WEAR SHOES HERE.
The other writes back triumphantly,
GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITY, THEY DON’T HAVE ANY SHOES YET”
“The frames our minds create define – and confine – what we perceive to be possible. Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view.
Enlarge the box, or create another frame around the data, and problems vanish, while new opportunities appear.”
The Arcis Man challenges himself to see the opportunity in every challenge.
2. Stepping into a universe of possibility
Imagine there are no limitations; the universe has abundant, open and infinite resources for you to tap.
An attitude of abundance means you’re more likely to find new business, new opportunities, and new possibilities.
If you are inclusive and passionate in your life, you’re going to see greater abundance. If you participate joyfully in tasks and projects, you’ll be more successful.
Step away from the world of measurements and scarcity. “In the measurement world,” they write, “you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold.”
The Arcis Man challenges his context for circumstances to focus on abundance.
3. Giving an A
Your expectations for others creates a framework for them to succeed or fail.
“You can give an A to anyone in any walk of life – to a waitress, to your employer, to your mother-in-law, to the members of the opposite team and to the drivers in traffic,”
Most people fear failure. To combat this kind of energy and thinking, Ben Zander gave every student in his class an A at the beginning of the course. To keep this grade, each student had only to write a letter telling Mr. Zander, what they had done to earn the A, and how they had changed and grown by the end of the year. The student also had to describe the kind of person they had become.
Giving someone an A breaks barriers and enlivens a person’s actions. It lets them speak freely about their feelings, and support others in their own dreams.
“The practice of giving an A transports your relationships from the world of measurement into the universe of possibilities,”
“This A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into.”
The Arcis Man gives people in all areas of his life an A and then helps them to live into it.
4. Being a contribution
This is a powerful daily practice.
Wake up every morning with the idea that you are a gift to others.
“1) declare yourself to be a contribution and 2) throw yourself into life as someone who makes a difference, accepting that you may not understand how or why.”
When you view your actions as a contribution, you forget to abandon your limiting beliefs on scarcity and start to experience abundance. You move from worry to making a difference for others.
Notice how the things you do help others. Imagine how everything you do sends out ripples beyond the horizon.
The Arcis Man is more concerned with his contribution to others and gratitude for opportunities than scarcity.
5. Leading from any chair
Leadership is not limited to people in leadership positions. Anyone can lead.
“the player who energizes the orchestra by communicating his newfound appreciation for the tasks of the conductor, or a parent who fashions in her own mind that her children desire to contribute, is exercising leadership of the most profound kind.”
You can tell if you’re fulfilling your role as a leader? Look into the eyes of the people you’re leading and ask yourself, “Who am I being that their eyes are not shining?”
It doesn’t matter who you are and where you sit; you can inspire and lead others from anywhere. You don’t need a title or position.
The Arcis Man doesn’t wait to be asked to lead. He steps up to the plate when the need arises!
6. Rule Number 6
“Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so goddamn seriously.’”
Rule Number 6 is a reminder to lighten up and not take yourself or life so seriously! When you lighten up, you release yourself from egoistic and self-limiting beliefs.
“When we follow Rule number 6 and lighten up over our childish demands and entitlements, we are instantly transported into a remarkable universe. The new universe is cooperative in nature, and pulls for the realization of all our cooperative desires.”
The Arcis Man understands that most challenges are not as important as we might think. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.
7. The way things are
This involves acceptance of what is, as well as the presence and making the best of any situation.
When you’re present and not resisting the current situation, you’ll understand the reality of the current situation and you can turn to the question, “What do we want to do from here?”
“the capacity to be present to everything that is happening, without resistance, creates possibility. It creates possibility in the same way that, if you are far-sighted, finding your glasses revives your ability to read or remove a splinter from a child’s finger. At last, you can see. You can leave behind the struggle to come to terms with what is in front of you, and move on.”
When you accept that things are the way they are, instead of complaining and resisting, you’re in a position to make the best of the situation. You’re better able to find solutions and take positive action.
The Arcis Man approaches any difficulty with an open mind to understand the reality of the current situation. He sees things as they are, not worse than they are.
8. Giving way to passion
To allow passion to shine in your life, “participate wholly. Allow yourself to be a channel to shape the stream of passion into a new expression for the world.”
Life has made many of us conformers and has given us structure and limitations. Urban life moulds us to be rigid and fit into average expectations. Your life will change when you “transcend the barriers of personal survival and become a unique conduit for its vital energy.”
The Arcis Man is passionate about the things in his life and lets his passion shine through for everyone to benefit from.
Participate, engage and immerse yourself in your passions.
9. Lighting a spark
Inspire others to pursue a passion. Spread passion and light possibilities in the eyes and lives of others.
Assume that others want to feel the same spark and electric sense of possibility that you feel. Be available and invite others who are ready to catch their spark and live their dreams.
Be ready to participate, be willing to be moved and inspired and offer that which lights you up. Also, know that others are willing and eager to catch the spark.
Encourage and motivate others who are ready to join you.
The Arcis Man uses his playfulness and passion to inspire others.
10. Being the board
Declare, “I am the framework for everything that happens in my life.”
“You can always grace yourself with responsibility for anything that happens in your life. You can always find within yourself the source of any problem you have.”
This practice isn’t about blaming yourself or feeling at fault but rather it is about challenging the assumptions you make about what’s happening in your life and taking responsibility for them.
When you’re “being the board,” you challenge your assumptions to determine how your perspective led to the situation and take responsibility for how you got there.
You’re not looking to place blame elsewhere or on others. You are doing the constructive work of understanding how you got to where you are – and without blaming yourself, either.
“Gracing yourself with responsibility for everything that happens in your life leaves your spirit whole, and leaves you free to choose again.”
The Arcis Man takes responsibility for everything in his life.
11. Creating frameworks for possibility
Don’t go with the flow toward an idea or concept that doesn’t improve your situation – no matter how logical it seems. Remember, common sense is not always good advice.
The book advises us to “Make a new distinction in the realm of possibility: one that is a powerful substitute for the current framework of meaning that is generating the downward spiral.”
Find the courage and boldness to stand with your vision and ideas and to face the direction where you’d like to lead people.
Look at the transformative powers you have. Become more conscious of the way you use language, and define new frameworks of possibilities. Bring out the part in your tribe that is the most contributory, free and open to participation.
The Aris Man creates frameworks that cultivate the possibility and presents them to the world without fear.
12. Telling the “we” story
Most people operate from a defensive position of “you and me” and “us and them,”. This approach is fundamentally driven by fear.
But life is not a zero-sum game. Move from a place of division, conflict, and hostility to a place of enthusiasm and togetherness? A place of friendship and cooperation?
The book advises us, “The WE appears when, for the moment, we set aside the story of fear, competition, and struggle, and tell its story.”
Ask: “‘What do WE want to have happen here?’
‘What’s best for US?’ – all of each of us, and all of all of us.
What’s OUR next step?”
Permit the boundaries that divide us to disappear and act from a place where all of us benefit, together. We can find solutions that work for everyone. This involves thinking about the issues from a much higher level and approaching life from a win-win perspective.
The Arcis Man is always thinking about achieving a win-win for everyone in every situation.