The Art of Possibility, Part III

It’s difficult to track all the long-term results of learning to think differently or more powerfully or with more possibility! That kind of learning can last a lifetime and hopefully ultimately results in a good life, full of meaning, purpose and satisfaction. I was more than startled when a former client of mine (from about 20 years ago) introduced me at a social gathering as, “the woman who changed my life.” I had no idea she thought that, even though I knew she was a very satisfied client. What I think she probably meant was that I helped her to think differently – and it had a big impact on her life.

The Benjamin and Rosamund  Zander book, The Art of Possibility, to which I have been referring in Parts I and II of this blog series, is filled with stories of transformation, from those of young music students to those of leaders within large corporations such as Hewlitt-Packard. These are stories of people who were profoundly changed by “practicing the practices” set forth in the Zanders’ book, changes which led to countless positive results in their lives. While we are accustomed to and want to hear “success stories” that resulted in making it to the top or becoming rich and famous, what about some of the hidden “inner triumphs”, your “hidden triumphs” that maybe no one knows about but you?

What about the attorney who has finally found her own voice and conquered the legion of negative inner voices having to do with the sexual abuse she experienced as a child? Or the businessman who has found peace after accepting his alcoholism and committing to sobriety?  Or the corporate trainer who searched for and finally found and reconciled with the father who abandoned her as a child?  Or the science teacher who managed to pull herself out of an abusive marriage and make a good life with her young son? These are amazing “inner” success stories that also need mentioning, all of which I have had the privilege of witnessing with my own clients over the years. They are also examples of what can happen when people begin to think differently – with possibility – and because they do, they can take effective action that leads to a better life.          

On a much lighter note, just last week, one of my clients, a bright young recent college graduate who has been experiencing what I call the “post-partum blues” following her graduation and return to the Bay Area, struck gold! As part of her “homework” in our work together, she did what I call a “soft search”: she searched softly, not with pressure or anxiety, and not with the intent of immediately applying to any particular job, but with an attitude that says:

With my gifts, talents, education, experience and values, surely there is something out there for me. I wonder what it is. . . Then explore. Be curious. Be creative. Follow the yellow brick road. Look at job descriptions, look for one that appeals to you, one that attracts you. Look for that one thing that lights you up inside and has you thinking, “I could do this! I have done this! I know just what to say in the cover letter and interview!”

What she found that had her all lit up inside with possibilities was a website she had never heard about before, www.idealist.com. Because she is a “values-based” person, who has loved volunteering for several different non-profits throughout high school and college, has outstanding communication skills, and is inspired by organizations to which she can make a contribution (one of the practices in The Art of Possibility, by the way) she realized she had struck gold! There were so many possibilities all of a sudden, that we found ourselves hot on the trail of possibility. Suddenly there was no struggle involved in developing a clear, powerful resume that not only says what she has done in the past, but reveals the kind of person she is, what her values are, and how her gifts, talents, skills and experience will help the organization achieve its mission. Suddenly, what to say in a cover letter became much clearer.

If you are confused, have no idea what you want to do, and are having a hard time relating to the practices revealed in The Art of Possibility: take heart. Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you see it! And once you know what you want, and you see that it actually exists in the world, you will be filled with the energy it takes to get yourself where you want to go!

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