When you’re stuck with a seemingly-impossible problem, the best way to get unstuck is to shift your perspective. The authors, Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander, are a conductor and therapist respectively. In this book, they combine their skills, knowledge and experience into 12 practices that you can use to see new possibilities and bring them to life. In The Art of Possibility summary, we’ll outline these possibility principles and how to apply them to transform your results and relationships. For the full details, examples and tips, do get a copy of the book, or get a detailed overview with our complete book summary bundle.
Mastering The Art of Possibility
Your perspectives shape your possibilities. To reconstruct how you perceive the world, you must first be willing to challenge your beliefs and assumptions, and to keep applying these 12 practices until the new ways of thinking and behaving become intuitive to you.
1. Realize that Everything is Invented
Everything we know about the world around us is actually filtered through our mental stories. You pick up selective info about the environment via your 5 senses => your brain interprets the info => you have a conscious experience. By the time you’re conscious of something, your brain has already gone through a complex process of info-selection, cue-matching and story-telling. In the book and our full book summary, you’ll find out why human perceptions are so flawed/limited and how you can break out of your self-imposed frames/boxes to see new possibilities.
2. Move from Scarcity to Abundance
We live in a “world of measurement” where everything is evaluated against goals, standards, and comparisons. All human struggles—including our fears, doubts and disappointments—are built on the hidden assumption that we must fight to survive in a world of scarcity and danger. This practice is about shifting to an abundance-mindset and tapping into an infinite universe of possibilities. Get the full summary to learn the difference between scarcity and scarcity-thinking, and how to let go of the need to constantly judge and measure everything.
3. Gift an A
We tend to grade people (literally or mentally) and use that grade to define their abilities/potential. When you give others an “A” as a gift (not because they’ve met a certain standard or expectation), it opens up a new world of possibilities for yourself and others to achieve what previously wouldn’t have been possible. Find out why/how from the book or our full book summary.
4. Be a Contribution
Most of us are constantly judging everything we do as a “success” or “failure”. This practice is about transforming your struggles into fulfilling experiences, by focusing on your contributions instead. Use the simple steps outlined in our complete summary to start making that shift!
5. Lead from Any Position
This practice is about finding and unlocking the hidden passion and commitment that exists in every person, rather than assume that your approach/standards are the best. See new possibilities emerge when you apply this practice at home and at work. Read more from our full 15-page summary!
6. Lighten Up
We tend to look for external threats when in reality, it’s our own fears, views and positions that truly stand in the way of our rewarding experiences. Learn the difference between your “calculating self” vs your “central self”, and why problems/issues may magically melt away when you simply lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself and your situation.
7. See the Way Things Are
Have you ever felt resigned that there’s nothing you can do because “that’s just the way things are”? This practice is about becoming present to (i) what’s truly happening and (ii) your own reactions to them, so you get clear on your circumstances and what you can do to move toward your desired outcomes. In the book / complete summary, you can learn how to discern between facts, feelings and assumptions, and shift from downward spirals to possibility talk.
8. Flow with Passion
When we see the objects/people around us as separate entitles, it creates artificial barriers that don’t truly exist. Find out how you can give in fully to the creative energy waiting to be expressed through you!
9. Ignite the Spark
It’s untrue that you can only persuade others through manipulation or some form of exchange. This practice is about enrolling people by igniting their imagination and bringing out their passion. Find out more in the full summary bundle! Appeal to passion and abundance (not fear and scarcity) as a source of motivation.
10. Be the Chess Board
This practice is about shifting your perspective so you can see your own role in a particular situation. Stop trying to control all the chess pieces and the moves; be the board that accommodates all possible moves, so you see things more objectively and can take enlightened actions.
11. Create Possibility Frameworks
This practice is about breaking downward spirals, and instead generating options by (i) restructuring meaning, (ii) developing visions and (iii) creating environments that support possibilities.
12. Focus on WE
Most of the time, we think of “we” as “You + I”. The parties are seen as separate entities with irreconcilable differences. The WE practice is about (i) identifying what connects people, (ii) listening/looking out for what emerges and (iii) jointly defining what WE want and what’s the best thing to do for US.
Other Details in “The Art of Possibility”
For each of the 12 practices briefly outlined above, you can find stories, letters and reflections in the book that take you on a journey and bring the ideas to life. The authors’ goal is to equip you with alternative perspectives and approaches, so you can face any challenge in life, and design the stage upon which you’d express yourself and discover life’s unlimited possibilities.
Step into a World of Possibility and Find New Solutions to Any Problem!