The Art of Possibility offers a set of breakthrough practices for creativity in all human enterprises. This inspirational book is a synthesis of Rosamund Stone Zander's knowledge of cutting-edge psychology and Benjamin Zander's experiences as the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Infused with the energy of their dynamic partnership, the book joins together Ben's extraordinary talent as a mover and shaker, teacher, and communicator with Rosamund's genius for creating innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment. In lively counterpoint, the authors provide us with a deep sense of the powerful role that the notion of possibility can play in every aspect of our lives.
The Zanders' deceptively simple practices are based on two premises: that life is composed as a story ("it's all invented") and that, with new definitions, much more is possible than people ordinarily think. The book shifts our perspective with uplifting stories, parables, and anecdotes. From "Giving an A" to the mysterious "Rule Number 6" to "Leading from Any Chair"--the account of Ben's stunning realization that the conductor/leader's power is directly linked to how much greatness he is willing to grant to others--each practice offers an opportunity for personal and organizational transformation.
In a lively, sensible manual for turning life's obstacles into possibilities, the Zanders introduce various "tools" for transformation, drawing on their extensive experiences with musicians, students and patients in therapy (Rosamund is a psychotherapist and painter; Benjamin is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic). In a chapter entitled "Giving an A," for example, Benjamin relates a classroom technique that allows students to envision their own futures: all students in his class receive an A if they write him a postdated letter relating "the story of what will have happened to you by next May that is in line with this extraordinary grade." Other chapters emphasize practices such as thinking in terms of making a personal "contribution" rather than stark "success or failure"; "lightening up" in order to see a problem from a new perspective (e.g., a patient of Rosamund's was able to have a sensual experience with her husband even though she was angry at him); and reassessing "frameworks for possibility" (e.g., a teacher shaved her head in order to "reframe the meaning" of a hairless class member who had leukemia). The authors' emphasis on "practice," the importance of "flow" and the joy in creation and expression is apt and often truly inspiring. Although not groundbreaking, the Zanders' suggestions constitute sound, practical advice that has much in common with Zen concepts of holism, balance and grace.
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Not exceptional and long winded, but not entirely bad
I was encouraged to read this book by my manager. Rather than being written by business mangers, it is written by creative professionals and reads as such. Rather than being prescriptive and direct it has a tendency to wander through examples that relate to the points being made. If you are a right brain thinker (like myself) the book is difficult to relate to because it is overly fluffy, optimistic (love and everyone getting along) figure too much into the theories of developing vision and building opportunities.
Challenging & Worth It!
The Art of Possibility will immediately appeal to creative types, but also has the bona fides to go well beyond that stereotype. Not just a new-age-reawakening feel-good essay, the work is actually built of substantive research and practical experience.
I can attest that Ben (half of the author duo) very much practices the concepts and skills revealed in the book - to impressive effect!
My problem is that every time a loan out a copy to students and/or clients, I almost never get it back.