The Art of Possibility, Part I

It’s been almost 15 years since Benjamin Zander, the beloved former conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, and his executive coach wife and business partner, Rosamund Stone Zander, wrote their national bestseller, published by and at the request of the Harvard Business School Press, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. But in case you missed it and its valuable life coaching advice, or forgot about it, I’m calling it to your attention. While it’s not exactly a light summer read, it is a book that could possibly change your life forever.

As I read the book this past year, I was amazed to find so many intersections and echoes between the Zanders’ original work and my own life coaching experience over the past 25 years. Even though this was a book right up my alley, I never paid much attention to it, because I thought it was a book just about developing a world class orchestra—until I came face to face with Benjamin Zander at a national Charles Schwab Conference a handful of years ago where he was a keynote speaker. Although I did not read The Art of Possibility even then, I became even more intrigued early this year when a number of our financial planning staff came back from a financial planning conference raving about Benjamin Zander’s keynote speech there! I finally embarked on the book, which begins with a paragraph that seems to challenge the reader to do some deep thinking right off the bat or drop the book and run for cover:

This is a how-to book of an unusual kind. Unlike the genre of how-to book that offer strategies to surmount the hurdles of a competitive world and move out ahead, the objective of this book is to provide the reader the means to lift off from that world of struggle and sail into a vast universe of possibility. Our premise is that many of the circumstances that seem to block us in our daily lives may only appear to do so based on a framework of assumptions we carry with us. Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view. Find the right framework and extraordinary accomplishment becomes an everyday experience.

Whoa, Nellie. . .This is where I momentarily screech to a halt. Even though I trust that the Zanders know what they’re talking about in this seminal career and life coaching tome, even though I know that their work is highly respected and even revered, and even though I have already been inspired in person by one half of the “Roz and Ben” team, I just can’t imagine how they are going to pull this off. I think to myself, “That sounds way too good to be true. Who is ever going to believe that?”

What especially grabs me, though, gives me a chill, and tells me that I am about to do some very deep thinking is that I immediately know what the authors mean by their stated premise in The Art of Possibility:

Our premise is that many of the circumstances that seem to block us in our daily lives may only appear to do so based on a framework of assumptions we carry with us. Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view.

But this requires a lot more explainin’ than I have time for here, so follow along in my next blog post, The Art of Possibility, Part II, but in the meantime, both for your personal satisfaction and for the valuable life coaching advice inside, I challenge you to read this curious, audacious, and powerful book!
 

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