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The Art of Possibility

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Presenting twelve breakthrough practices for bringing creativity into all human endeavors, The Art of Possibility is the dynamic product of an extraordinary partnership. The Art of Possibility combines Benjamin Zander's experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander's genius for des Presenting twelve breakthrough practices for bringing creativity into all human endeavors, The Art of Possibility is the dynamic product of an extraordinary partnership. The Art of Possibility combines Benjamin Zander's experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander's genius for designing innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment. The authors' harmoniously interwoven perspectives provide a deep sense of the powerful role that the notion of possibility can play in every aspect of life. Through uplifting stories, parables, and personal anecdotes, the Zanders invite us to become passionate communicators, leaders, and performers whose lives radiate possibility into the world


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Presenting twelve breakthrough practices for bringing creativity into all human endeavors, The Art of Possibility is the dynamic product of an extraordinary partnership. The Art of Possibility combines Benjamin Zander's experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander's genius for des Presenting twelve breakthrough practices for bringing creativity into all human endeavors, The Art of Possibility is the dynamic product of an extraordinary partnership. The Art of Possibility combines Benjamin Zander's experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander's genius for designing innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment. The authors' harmoniously interwoven perspectives provide a deep sense of the powerful role that the notion of possibility can play in every aspect of life. Through uplifting stories, parables, and personal anecdotes, the Zanders invite us to become passionate communicators, leaders, and performers whose lives radiate possibility into the world

30 review for The Art of Possibility

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heidi The Hippie Reader

    The Art of Possibility takes a psychologist and a musician and smooshes their ideologies together to create a self help program. "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." pg 1. The various practices that are discussed in The Art of Possibility seek to create those new frames. One of The Art of Possibility takes a psychologist and a musician and smooshes their ideologies together to create a self help program. "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." pg 1. The various practices that are discussed in The Art of Possibility seek to create those new frames. One of my favorite chapters was: Being a Contribution. In it, the authors suggest playing life like a game. "The purpose of describing, say, your professional life or your family traditions as a game is twofold. You instantly shift the context from one of survival to one of opportunity for growth. You also have the choice of imagining other games you might prefer to play in these realms." pg 59. As a gamer, that's an idea that I can easily assimilate into my life. :) I also enjoyed: The Way Things Are. "Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are ... It simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense." pg 100. A little bit of Buddhist philosophy can go a long way. One of my complaints about this book is that I don't think that it fit together as seamlessly as they were hoping it would. Also, I feel like non-musicians may not get as much out of this book as I did. It is rather heavy on the music stories and metaphors. But, like many self-help books, it is packed with actionable suggestions and feel-good stories. Recommended for those looking to inject a little more possibility into their lives.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Not sure how to describe this--scattershot? Uneven? Wonderful in parts? I picked this up because I so enjoyed Benjamin Zander's TED talk, which you can watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9LCwI... Who can resist a conductor who talks about "one-buttock playing"? So Benjamin Zander is one coauthor, and his wife Rosamund Stone Zander is the other coauthor. He's a conductor/teacher/motivational speaker/humanitarian, and she's an "executive coach and family systems therapist." Fascinating comb Not sure how to describe this--scattershot? Uneven? Wonderful in parts? I picked this up because I so enjoyed Benjamin Zander's TED talk, which you can watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9LCwI... Who can resist a conductor who talks about "one-buttock playing"? So Benjamin Zander is one coauthor, and his wife Rosamund Stone Zander is the other coauthor. He's a conductor/teacher/motivational speaker/humanitarian, and she's an "executive coach and family systems therapist." Fascinating combination, right? But the publisher said the book couldn't be entirely about classical music. It had to appeal to a general audience. So Benjamin's anecdotes are about conducting orchestras all over the world, and unlocking a passion for music in young people, and making old people cry because they're so moved by the beauty and skill of these brilliant young musicians, and raising enormous amounts of money to further a "dying" art form. And Rosamund's anecdotes are about . . . skiing when it's icy out, and getting a flat tire when biking from Cambridge to Boston. Okay, some of her anecdotes are about her patients, but they're nowhere near as interesting as what Benjamin has to say. And the coauthors and the publisher have tried to impose a structure on the book so that everything hangs together as a coherent whole, and I don't think it works. I definitely recommend the TED talk, and I think this book is worth a skim, but I can't recommend it overall.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mindi Vandagriff

    This isn't just a standard self-help type book. It's a change-your-thinking-feel-good-book-written-for-an-educator's-ear-but-can-be-translated-into-everyone-around-you type book. Written through their own accounts and experiences, the Zanders give practical advice on how to, basically, live a fuller life. Their experiences in education, though not typical (Ben was an orchestra conductor and Ros, a therapist) speak volumes to educators alike and different. I am a fourth-grade teacher and where it This isn't just a standard self-help type book. It's a change-your-thinking-feel-good-book-written-for-an-educator's-ear-but-can-be-translated-into-everyone-around-you type book. Written through their own accounts and experiences, the Zanders give practical advice on how to, basically, live a fuller life. Their experiences in education, though not typical (Ben was an orchestra conductor and Ros, a therapist) speak volumes to educators alike and different. I am a fourth-grade teacher and where it has reminded me to make the most out of me for my students, it has also reminded me how to be a better wife, mother and friend. If you are at a dead end looking for a way out, seek help, not necessarily this book, or should I say, not this book alone. If you are simply looking for a way to amplify your life and love those around you to your fullest extent possible, this is the book for you. It is an easy read, I read the first 6 chapters (half the book) in one evening. It is spiritual, not religious, in a way that will render you speechless and fill you with an inexplicable feel-good, euphoric feeling. Your perspective will change and if the "practices" (the advice given in the book is broken down into simple life practices named cleverly to help you remember why you're even doing it in the first place- like "Giving an A", "Being the Board", "Rule #6") are done daily, your life and coincidentally, those around you, will also begin to change. You'll look for dandelions in empty, drab, fruitless fields where a non-reader would say "No way, don't look there," you'll want to persevere. And then try to convince them that it might actually be possible.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

    I highly recommend the audio version of this because the authors' enthusiasm shines through as they read it, and because, they actually include classical music excerpts to fully elucidate their examples! At the same time, however, I found myself wishing I had a digital or paper copy so that I could more easily highlight their words to come back to again and again. The "practice" and the accompanying "rules" are inspiring, and definitely difficult to live by all the time (which is why they call it I highly recommend the audio version of this because the authors' enthusiasm shines through as they read it, and because, they actually include classical music excerpts to fully elucidate their examples! At the same time, however, I found myself wishing I had a digital or paper copy so that I could more easily highlight their words to come back to again and again. The "practice" and the accompanying "rules" are inspiring, and definitely difficult to live by all the time (which is why they call it a "practice"), but they especially spoke to me as a parent and an educator. They pair nicely with another book I am reading at the moment: The Blessing of a B Minus. I love the Zanders language about how everything is invented and how we need to escape from the world of measurement and into a world that emphasizes the "real" self and the "we."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    On my flights to Belgrade the past couple of days, I finished a great book that has been influencing my thinking in several areas. The book was a thoughtful gift from Gayla Nicholson, a board member with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Park County, Wyoming, a recent client. I referenced portions of Ros and Ben Zander's 2002 classic, The Art of Possibility, in the closing keynote I gave at last week's Department of Education mentoring conference in Seattle, as it is so consistent with my framework for On my flights to Belgrade the past couple of days, I finished a great book that has been influencing my thinking in several areas. The book was a thoughtful gift from Gayla Nicholson, a board member with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Park County, Wyoming, a recent client. I referenced portions of Ros and Ben Zander's 2002 classic, The Art of Possibility, in the closing keynote I gave at last week's Department of Education mentoring conference in Seattle, as it is so consistent with my framework for sustainability. The book is inspiring, thought-provoking, and packed with strategies and actions that each of us can take to transform our thinking and our lives. This is one of those books that you could read ten times and still find something new. It reminded me of one of my all-time favorites books, Richard Bach's Illusions (Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah)—a book I've read and given away to friends over and over again. It reads quick, like the Zanders' book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    I had a difficult time with this book for a few reasons. 1) many of the lessons were common sense...aka don't take yourself so seriously. 2) I felt like the authors bragged about themselves a bit much. I enjoyed the stories they told of other people, but not of themselves. 3) I saw hypocrisy in the book when Roz talks about moving on in one lesson & then brings up an instance where one of her teachers was always against her....isn't that playing the victim? Holding a grudge from when you wer I had a difficult time with this book for a few reasons. 1) many of the lessons were common sense...aka don't take yourself so seriously. 2) I felt like the authors bragged about themselves a bit much. I enjoyed the stories they told of other people, but not of themselves. 3) I saw hypocrisy in the book when Roz talks about moving on in one lesson & then brings up an instance where one of her teachers was always against her....isn't that playing the victim? Holding a grudge from when you were in school to call out the person in a book? In addition this book revolves around music. When I read it was for professional & personal life, I expected more well rounded examples. I do not know anything about music or instruments & each chapter had some symphony example...I would have like to have seen more examples across a broader reach of professions.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    A standard self-help book. No new territory. I kept thinking, this sounds like Landmark psycho babble. Sure enough...at the end they acknowledge Landmark. For a really excellent book that does offer something, read "Strangers to Ourselves" by Timothy Wilson.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Beasley

    Paradigms. They stick to us like that glue that comes with packaged toys that you pull off one finger just to find it stuck to another. The more you try to discard it, the more it seems to hang on for its life. That’s how paradigms work, they just don’t want to die or be replaced. Paradigms are necessary storage spaces for our beliefs and attitudes, but they can also blind us and take away promise and hope for something better. When I accept my paradigms as the only way of life, not only I suffer Paradigms. They stick to us like that glue that comes with packaged toys that you pull off one finger just to find it stuck to another. The more you try to discard it, the more it seems to hang on for its life. That’s how paradigms work, they just don’t want to die or be replaced. Paradigms are necessary storage spaces for our beliefs and attitudes, but they can also blind us and take away promise and hope for something better. When I accept my paradigms as the only way of life, not only I suffer, but also those around me. Paradigm Shifts. They are uncomfortable, even painful at times. I hang on to my paradigms because they work for me. They are the canvas upon which I paint my life and I like their colors. I may have a clue that they are unhealthy and damaging, but I do not want to move from my comfort zone to the place of the unknown, so I just live in my paradigms. They are not necessarily world-views and they are not even Biblical. I have simply found a way to make them work for me. I get anxious when someone challenges them, but paradigm shifts can be tremendously liberating if I move from unhealthy to life-giving actions and attitudes. Jesus. He was the ultimate paradigm shift. He came to change minds! The Zanders are certainly not Jesus, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even sure if they follow Him. However, they succeeded in shifting my personal paradigms as I read the book they authored called “The Art of Possibility”. As I read, I was forced to think. Some of their philosophies I sifted out because they were beyond my beliefs about God and people. But most of them began the deep work of shifting the way I live out and experience my world-view and faith, especially regarding other people. The book is built upon 12 practices. I will briefly review them here and then encourage you to dig deeper by reading the book. 1.) It’s All Invented How we view life and opportunity is determined by our attitude toward circumstances. Therefore, every opportunity is either stifled or embraced. Therefore, we have the responsibility to “invent” our opportunities. How to Practice “it’s all invented” (page 15) Ask What assumption am I making, That I’m not aware I’m making, That gives me what I see? After you have an answer, Ask What might I now invent, That I haven’t yet invented, That would give me other choices? 2.) Stepping Into a Universe of Possibility Possibility is a universe we step into when we step out of the universe of the world of measurement. “Let us suppose, now, that a universe of possibility stretches beyond the world of measurement to include all worlds: infinite, generative, and abundant. Unimpeded on a daily basis by the concern for survival, free from the generalized assumption of scarcity, a person stands in the great space of possibility in a posture of openness, with an unfettered imagination for what can be.” (page 19) 3.) Giving an A How would people react, respond and perform if we gave them an A up front and allowed them to either live up to the A or reject our early assumption? In a world of measurement, we try to make people earn their grade, but in a world of possibility, we allow them to live into an A+. 4.) Being a Contribution In a world of possibility… “absent are the familiar measurements of progress. Instead, life is revealed as a place to contribute and we as contributors. Not because we have done a measurable amount of good, but because that is the story we tell.” (page 56) 5.) Leading from Any Chair Not only are we responsible to lead wherever we find ourselves, but as leaders we are responsible to give others the opportunity to contribute as “silent conductors”. A team is not simply as good as it’s leader, although that is important. A team is as good as it’s silent leaders… those who lead from wherever they find themselves in an organization. Every leaders should ask himself when most frustrated with the performance of his team, “Who am I being that they are not shining?” 6.) Rule Number 6 Lighten up! We are only here for a short time and why should we spend it refusing to laugh at ourselves? In the midst of tight tension, one of the most powerful things you can do is laugh and make others laugh. 7.) The Way Things Are “…be present to the way things are. Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are in (a) resigned way. It doesn’t mean you should drown out your negative feelings or pretend you like what you really can’t stand. It doesn’t mean you should work to achieve some ‘higher plane of existence’ so you can ‘transcend negativity.’ It simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense.” (Page 100) Why fight with ourselves with what is? It’s OK to hurt and be confused. Rest in it. Do what you have to do to change things, but it is not helpful to live in resigned defeat. 8.) Giving Way to Passion “If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of what can be, for the eye, which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility?” Soren Kierkegaard quote (page 113) 2 Steps to Giving Way to Passion: a. Notice where you are holding back, and let go. Release those barriers of self that keep you separate and in control, and let the vital energy of passion surge through you connecting you to all beyond. b. Participate wholly. Allow yourself to be a channel to shape the stream of passion into a new expression for the world. (page 114) Zander encourages us to live long lines. Do not be distracted by the cares of the world that lure us from the overall purpose and passion of our lives. As a musician misses the beauty of the long lines of music by trying to perfect every note and harmony, so we miss the purpose of our lives by begin distracted by the little things that nag at us day to day. 9.) Lighting a Spark Communicating creatively and going out of our way to get our message across is the key to the full involvement of others in our vision. “Enrollment is the practice of this chapter. Enrolling is not about cajoling, tricking, bargaining, pressuring, or guilt-tripping someone into doing something your way. Enrollment is the art and practice of generating a spark of possibility for others to share.” (page 125) 10.) Being the Board Emotional involvement blinds. Objectivity illuminates. Zander encourages us to “rename yourself as the board on which the whole game is being played.” (page 141) In other words, you are where you are and experiencing what you experience because of what you’ve done. When we use the tactic of blame we close the door to possibility. When I proclaim that situations are the way they are because someone else reacted, responded, or acted the way they did, I lose my power to “steer the situation in another direction, to learn from it, or to put us in good relationship with each other.” Do not close the door by proclaiming blame, but live in the world of possibility by taking responsibility to find a way in which things change for the good. Develop the habit of emotionally stepping back and evaluating the game that is being played on the game board of your life… be the board. 11.) Frameworks for Possibility Paint pictures of hope when you are casting vision. Reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech on the Mall in Washington. King had a dream and he created the framework for the possibility of a better nation. Within the boundaries of that frame he and others gave their life to create the broad strokes of a vision. Later the details were added and a beautiful painting of a nation offering dignity and hope to all men and women emerged from the canvas. Build the frame and paint the broad strokes and allow others to be enrolled in the vision, so that together a beautiful work of art is created. 12.) Telling the WE Story “More often than not history is a record of conflict between an US and a THEM. We see this pattern expressed across a broad spectrum: nation to nation, among political parties, between labor and management, and in the most intimate realms of our lives… We have distinguished a new entity that personifies the “togetherness” of you and me and others. This entity, the WE, can be found among any two people, in any community or organization, and it can be thought of, in poetic terms, as a melody running through the people of the earth… The WE appears when, for the moment, we set aside the story of fear, competition, and struggle, and tell its story.” In what areas of your life… in what social or organizational context… in which relationships are you telling the WE story? I hope I’ve given you enough to chew on, but not to much to satisfy your appetite. Read the book! Maybe your paradigm, like mine, will be challenged and tweaked to produce a better you and a better them (or should I say a better us) for those people with which you do life together!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jim Dooley

    I have a conflicted rating here. The composition and the presentation of the book rates 4-stars, but the value of the material rates 5-stars. Not unlike Covey's 7 HABITS, seeing a live presentation of the material is more transforming and inspirational than it is in the written format. The basic premise of the book is as essential for everyone as it is for the apparent target audience of Leaders. When you make others aware that you truly see potential within them, they tend to rise to meet that p I have a conflicted rating here. The composition and the presentation of the book rates 4-stars, but the value of the material rates 5-stars. Not unlike Covey's 7 HABITS, seeing a live presentation of the material is more transforming and inspirational than it is in the written format. The basic premise of the book is as essential for everyone as it is for the apparent target audience of Leaders. When you make others aware that you truly see potential within them, they tend to rise to meet that potential. That is a message that should be lovingly written into every child-rearing book. The writers focus on how to suspend overly critical judgment of others and center on the very real possibilities contained within. I am an enthusiastic believer of this, although I'll admit that I've had a difficult time of fully incorporating the concept of "Everyone gets an A." Although I've preferred the live presentations I've seen of this material, I don't mean to imply that the book itself should be ignored. There is a wealth of excellent material here, and the writing style is easy to digest. I've used this as a reference book over and over again.

  10. 4 out of 5

    MsSmartiePants ...like the candy...

    Tedious. Boring. Slow. Very simple and well known concepts are "rediscovered" by this husband and wife team. While I found them pleasant (they did the audio version of the book, which I usually prefer), listening to the first three CD's was an exercise in patience slogging through elementary concepts as I awaited the 'new' information. When I questioned my own efforts for the fifth or sixth time, I decided that I'd heard enough. There were no 'new' discoveries hinted at. I found no good reason t Tedious. Boring. Slow. Very simple and well known concepts are "rediscovered" by this husband and wife team. While I found them pleasant (they did the audio version of the book, which I usually prefer), listening to the first three CD's was an exercise in patience slogging through elementary concepts as I awaited the 'new' information. When I questioned my own efforts for the fifth or sixth time, I decided that I'd heard enough. There were no 'new' discoveries hinted at. I found no good reason to continue listening and look forward to exchanging this book for a more interesting one. Thank goodness I didn't purchase it, but used my membership at All Ears Audio Books to check it out.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Eh. I did take half page of notes as a read this book, so it does have some good thoughts. I also appreciated that many of the examples were taken from the world of music; so many examples in these types of books are taken from business, so a change was refreshing. All that being said, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. I can't really put my finger on it, but there was something about it that bothered me. The ideas and language were often too fuzzy, imprecise, a bit foofy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    The “Art of Possibility” was written by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. He is the founder and conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and a music professor (retired now, I believe) and she is a family therapist and landscape painter. It is a “how to” book on how to lift ourselves out of the difficulties we face on a daily basis and walk into a universe of possibility. The authors have not said anything that hasn’t already been said in hundreds of other books, but the way they e The “Art of Possibility” was written by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. He is the founder and conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and a music professor (retired now, I believe) and she is a family therapist and landscape painter. It is a “how to” book on how to lift ourselves out of the difficulties we face on a daily basis and walk into a universe of possibility. The authors have not said anything that hasn’t already been said in hundreds of other books, but the way they express themselves and examples they use are refreshing. It’s a reaffirmation to me of how best to contribute to this world. Here and there I got bogged down with some descriptive examples, but overall, a good read. Ideas I liked. For some people this would not necessarily be rated as a four star, especially since his examples relate to his young musicians. • Open yourself to possibilities by getting up each morning and instead of figuring out how to survive look at all the ways you can see things as possibilities. Reflection and awareness is the key living in a world you create. • Declare yourself a contributor to this world and throw yourself into life. • Don’t take yourself so seriously. • Generate a spark of possibility for others. • Create visions and emanate these visions as the sun radiates heat. The opposite is a downward spiral and its gravitational pull is strong. • Practice being with the way things are. • Tell the WE story; that means we remove the me, me, me statements and turn them into we, we, we. Everyone wins.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Saleh MoonWalker

    به خاطر یکی از قسمت های TED این کتابو خوندم. نمیدونم دقیقا چقدر کمک کرد، اما میدونم که خوب بود. کتاب از 12 بخش اصلی تشکیل شده که شامل : 1. It's all invented 2. Stepping into a Universe of Possibility 3. Giving an A 4. Being a Contribution 5. Leading from Any Chair 6. Rule Number 6 7. The Way Things Are 8. Giving Way to Passion 9. Lighting a Spark 10. Being the Board 11. Creating Frameworks for Possibility 12. Telling the WE Story کتابیه توی زمینه کمک به خود که روایتش خوب پیش میره و خوندنیه. A cynic, after all به خاطر یکی از قسمت های TED این کتابو خوندم. نمیدونم دقیقا چقدر کمک کرد، اما میدونم که خوب بود. کتاب از 12 بخش اصلی تشکیل شده که شامل : 1. It's all invented 2. Stepping into a Universe of Possibility 3. Giving an A 4. Being a Contribution 5. Leading from Any Chair 6. Rule Number 6 7. The Way Things Are 8. Giving Way to Passion 9. Lighting a Spark 10. Being the Board 11. Creating Frameworks for Possibility 12. Telling the WE Story کتابیه توی زمینه کمک به خود که روایتش خوب پیش میره و خوندنیه. A cynic, after all, is a passionate person who does not want to be disappointed again...the secret is not to speak to a person's cynicism, but to speak to her passion.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lynette Hague

    My mom recommended this book to me and come to find out that we have a copy on our bookshelf as my husband has read it. I'm going to put it in my "to reread once a year" folder as it is that inspiring. One reviewer recommended the audio version, so I'd like to try that next. This book is about rethinking the way you see relationships with others and situations. There are 12 practices that are discussed. Each practice has numerous examples which help clarify the new thought patterns. The concepts My mom recommended this book to me and come to find out that we have a copy on our bookshelf as my husband has read it. I'm going to put it in my "to reread once a year" folder as it is that inspiring. One reviewer recommended the audio version, so I'd like to try that next. This book is about rethinking the way you see relationships with others and situations. There are 12 practices that are discussed. Each practice has numerous examples which help clarify the new thought patterns. The concepts fit in with the premise of "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. I'm going to revisit my own happiness project to try to incorporate some of the practices so I can open up to possibility.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jerzy

    My dad attended a business seminar by Mr Zander and loved it enough to buy the book. We still use some of the authors' catchphrases around the house ("Remember rule number 6!") The book contains a ton of good advice and inspirational stories. I particularly like how the authors admit their own shortcomings -- it's not all just Pollyanna optimism. That said, it also does contain plenty of fluffy optimism and New-Agey talk of energy. "In the realm of possibility, there is no division between ideas My dad attended a business seminar by Mr Zander and loved it enough to buy the book. We still use some of the authors' catchphrases around the house ("Remember rule number 6!") The book contains a ton of good advice and inspirational stories. I particularly like how the authors admit their own shortcomings -- it's not all just Pollyanna optimism. That said, it also does contain plenty of fluffy optimism and New-Agey talk of energy. "In the realm of possibility, there is no division between ideas and action, mind and body, dream and reality." I find that kind of stuff off-putting, but luckily it's interspersed with great concrete stories from the authors' experiences of inspiring musicians or of redirecting couples in therapy. Favorite parts: * The idea of throwing your hands up and saying "How fascinating!" when you or someone else makes a mistake. No need to flip out, it's just a learning opportunity! * The idea of "measurement world" -- the point of view that everything and everyone must be compared, ranked, analyzed... This mindset is very much an inherent part of my job as a statistician, but it doesn't mean I have to act or think this way personally in my dealings with people. * The idea of "toes to nose" -- a phrase you've memorized so it can be a lifeline when things get tough (i.e., what you're taught on a whitewater rafting trip so you don't flail and drown) -- and the idea of an organization's vision as the org's toes-to-nose, a way of keeping everyone connected and responsible and participating. If I ever start a business, I'll want to have a toes-to-nose / vision. Favorite quotes: * p.42: Once I had given my audience an A and invented them as colleagues, they were precisely the people with whom I wanted to converse, and I was exactly where I wanted to be. If we really do have the choice of saying who is in the class we are teaching, or the orchestra we are conducting, or the group we are managing, why would we ever define them as people we cannot effectively and enjoyably work with? * p.72: [A great strategy for managers in trouble, and for people sitting through meetings, via a quote from second violinist Eugene Lehner:] One day, during my very first year playing with the orchestra, I remember an occasion when Koussevitsky was conducting a Bach piece and he seemed to be having some difficulty getting the results he wanted–--it simply wasn't going right. Fortunately, his friend, the great French pedagogue and conductor Nadia Boulanger, happened to be in town and sitting in on the rehearsal, so Koussevitsky took the opportunity to extricate himself from an awkward and embarrassing situation by calling out to her, "Nadia, please, will you come up here and conduct? I want to go to the back of the hall to see how it sounds." Mademoiselle Boulanger stepped up, made a few comments to the musicians, and conducted the orchestra through the passage without a hitch. Ever since that time, in every rehearsal, I have been waiting for the conductor to say, "Lehner, you come up here and conduct, I want to go to the back of the hall to hear how it sounds." It is now forty-three years since this happened, and it is less and less likely that I will be asked. However, in the meantime, I haven't had a single dull moment in rehearsal, as I sit wondering what I would say to the orchestra should I suddenly be called upon to lead. * p.116: [Quote from Martha Graham:] There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. * p.119: [about cellist Jacqueline Du Pre:] When she was six years old, the story goes, she went into her first competition as a cellist, and she was seen running down the corridor carrying her cello above her head, with a huge grin of excitement on her face. A custodian, noting what he took to be relief on the little girl's face, said, "I see you've just had your chance to play!" And Jackie answered, excitedly, "No, no, I'm just about to!" * p.169-170: A vision articulates a possibility. ... It is an idea to which no one could logically respond, "What about me?" ... In the pursuit of objectives under a vision, playing is relevant to the manifestation of the possibility, winning is not. [i.e. a vision is not about being Number One and beating out the competition.] * p.177: [from a NASA employee moved by young musicians' letters to NASA:] I will have to remember "I am here today to cross the swamp, not to fight all the alligators."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dolly

    One of my yoga teachers highly recommended this book, as well as Benjamin Zander's TED talk on The Transformative Power of Classical Music. I'm not a huge fan of self-help books, but I loved his video so much that I just had to borrow the book. The book is comprised of twelve lessons: 1. It's all invented 2. Stepping into a Universe of Possibility 3. Giving an A 4. Being a Contribution 5. Leading from Any Chair 6. Rule Number 6 7. The Way Things Are 8. Giving Way to Passion 9. Lighting a Spark 10. Being t One of my yoga teachers highly recommended this book, as well as Benjamin Zander's TED talk on The Transformative Power of Classical Music. I'm not a huge fan of self-help books, but I loved his video so much that I just had to borrow the book. The book is comprised of twelve lessons: 1. It's all invented 2. Stepping into a Universe of Possibility 3. Giving an A 4. Being a Contribution 5. Leading from Any Chair 6. Rule Number 6 7. The Way Things Are 8. Giving Way to Passion 9. Lighting a Spark 10. Being the Board 11. Creating Frameworks for Possibility 12. Telling the WE Story The lessons are presented mainly through anecdotes from both Ben and Roz and they are all quite readable. I am not sure how much this book will change my life, but it was a worthwhile read. interesting quotes: "...I actively train my students that when they make a mistake, they are to lift their arms in the air, smile, and say, 'How fascinating!' I recommend that everyone try this." (p. 31) "The Number 68 is invented and the A is invented, so we might as well choose to invent something that brightens our life and the lives of the people around us." (p. 33) 'A cynic, after all, is a passionate person who does not want to be disappointed again...the secret is not to speak to a person's cynicism, but to speak to her passion." (p. 39) "In the game of contribution you wake up each day and bask in the notion that you are a gift to others." (p. 58) "Rule Number 6 is 'Don't take yourself so goddamn seriously.'" (p. 79) "People often discover that the lessons they learn while playing the games are the very tools they use to make their projects, and their lives, leap ahead." (p. 84) "Nature makes no judgment. Humans do. And while our willingness to distinguish good and evil may be one of our most enhancing attributes, it is important to realize that 'good' and 'bad' are categories we impose on the world - they are not the world itself." (p. 105) "Life flows when we put our attention on the larger patterns of which we are a part, just as the music soars when a performer distinguishes the notes whose impulse carries the music's structure from those that are purely decorative. Life takes on shape and meaning when a person is able to transcend the barriers of personal survival and become a unique conduit for its vital energy." (p. 117) "You do not find compassion simply by listening to people; you open the channel by removing the barriers to tenderness within you." (p. 159) "Under a vision, goals are treated as markers thrown out ahead to define the territory. If you miss the mark - 'How fascinating!' Neither you nor the vision is compromised. In the pursuit of objectives under a vision, playing is relevant to the manifestation of the possibility, winning is not." (p. 170)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    QUOTE: “….[I]nterpretations of the world vary from individual to individual and from group to group. This understanding may persuade us that by factoring out our own interpretations of reality, we can reach a solid truth. However, the term it’s all invented points to a more fundamental notion – that no matter how objective we try to be, it is still through the structure of the brain that we perceive the world. So, if there are absolutes, we have no direct access to their existence. The mind cons QUOTE: “….[I]nterpretations of the world vary from individual to individual and from group to group. This understanding may persuade us that by factoring out our own interpretations of reality, we can reach a solid truth. However, the term it’s all invented points to a more fundamental notion – that no matter how objective we try to be, it is still through the structure of the brain that we perceive the world. So, if there are absolutes, we have no direct access to their existence. The mind constructs. The meanings our minds construct may be widely shared and sustaining for us, but they may have little to do with the world itself. Furthermore, how would we know?” [p. 12]

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lizz Minski

    What ivory tower malarkey! Theories are sound, but through such a privileged lens!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    In 2015: Excellent. Will definitely read again. In 2018: This book breathes possibility into my heart and revives my soul.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I want to give this book NO stars... had to read it for a class...this book is total BS

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    This was a good book but I felt it sometimes got lost in its own stories. One story has stuck with me and probably always will about the girl on the train to Auschwitz with her young brother. The lesson is to never say anything that you wouldn’t want as your last words.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Key

    Inspiring read.... I now have a distinction between how people react to things and who they truly are.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tony Aloe

    inspirational

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book is a therapy session for musicians or music lovers longing for a way out of destructive thought patterns and a me-vs.-them mentality -- wishing to achieve their full potential not just as musicians and teachers but as humans. If that first sentence sounded like a bunch of new-agey crap to you, you're probably right. The stories and "evidence" in this book are at best, Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul-esque pap, and at worst, apocryphal. But it's the "practices" to this book that are key, and w This book is a therapy session for musicians or music lovers longing for a way out of destructive thought patterns and a me-vs.-them mentality -- wishing to achieve their full potential not just as musicians and teachers but as humans. If that first sentence sounded like a bunch of new-agey crap to you, you're probably right. The stories and "evidence" in this book are at best, Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul-esque pap, and at worst, apocryphal. But it's the "practices" to this book that are key, and what fundamentally changed my outlook on life in a matter of days. I will let you read the book (or the other reviews) to learn about these practices, but I'll just say that I feel more easily able to see the bigger picture in any situation, give people the benefit of the doubt, and reduce the power of that part of me that loves to judge others as harshly as I judge myself. Unfortunately, the second half of the book really sagged. It wasn't nearly as helpful as the first half and seemed to have been added on in order to make the book a proper length! "We in the music profession train young musicians with upmost care from early childhood, urging them to achieve extraordinary technical mastery and encouraging them to develop good practice habits and performance values. We support them to attend fine summer programs and travel abroad to gain firsthand experience of different cultures, and then, after all this, we throw them into a maelstrom of competition, survival, backbiting, subservience, and status seeking. And from this arena we expect them to perform the great works of the musical literature that call upon, among other things, warmth, nobility, playfulness, generosity, reverence, sensitivity, and love!" p. 31 "Frank Sulloway [MIT] ... suggests that we think of 'personality' as a strategy for 'getting out of childhood alive.' ... A child comes to think of himself as the personality he gets recognition for or, in other words, as the set of petterns of action and habits of thought that get him out of childhood in one piece. That set, raised to adulthood, is what we are calling the calculating self. The prolonged nature of human childhood may contribute to the persistence of these habits long after their usefulness has passed." p. 82

  25. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Inspiring book and ideas! Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and motivational speaker, teaches through music and emphasizes the importance of seeing and embracing the opportunities and possibilities in life! He starts with this quote, "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, 'SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES.' The other writes back triumphantly, 'GLORIOUS BUSI Inspiring book and ideas! Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and motivational speaker, teaches through music and emphasizes the importance of seeing and embracing the opportunities and possibilities in life! He starts with this quote, "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, 'SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES.' The other writes back triumphantly, 'GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY STOP THEY HAVE NO SHOES.' (p. 9)" As we get rid of the barriers we place around the way we see the world we can see more of the possibilities. We would focus less on the "measurement world" and not worry so much on comparing ourselves to someone else, or judging ourselves, but working hard to do out best and working together with others (as "we"). In his classes he gives everyone an A and asks them to write a letter explaining how they got it--basically what they see themselves becoming at the end of the semester. Neat! I love the chapters on "being a contribution" and "leading from any chair." He shares the story of throwing the one starfish back and making a difference for that one! There is a contribution each of us makes. It's unique. Find it and do it! :) The conductor (a musician who doesn't make a sound) is supposed to encourage others to reach their potential. His example of being open to suggestions from others on how to do his job better is inspiring and important! Remember Rule #6--don't take yourself too seriously--and look for the shining eyes! :) I liked the book a lot, but probably like his leadership video even better. This TED talk gives a sense of that video and his vision of looking for and living the possibilities.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Francalancia

    Phil Jackson, former Los Angeles Lakers manager, once said, "always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart". This theme is idolized in the novel, "The Art of Possibility" by Elizabeth Zander, where she and her husband, Ben, explain how positivity and open-minded thinking can lead to endless opportunities to greatness. Each chapter is dedicated to an idea that can help maximize one's possibility to achieve a successful job, relationship, or any vision imaginable. For example, a belief that i Phil Jackson, former Los Angeles Lakers manager, once said, "always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart". This theme is idolized in the novel, "The Art of Possibility" by Elizabeth Zander, where she and her husband, Ben, explain how positivity and open-minded thinking can lead to endless opportunities to greatness. Each chapter is dedicated to an idea that can help maximize one's possibility to achieve a successful job, relationship, or any vision imaginable. For example, a belief that is cherished in the book is to shy away from blame and hatred, and instead take all factors into account when battling adversity. The ideas expressed by Zander are to help spread positivity and optimism to oneself and the person's audience, resulting in a more productive way to go about life's events. The interesting writing style makes this read that much better. By diving each chapter into sections, the value that is expressed can be unraveled in a step-by-step process. Zander mixes logic, quotes, and personal memoirs and experiences into each of her chapters to provide readers with plentiful information of the effectiveness of her message. Zander's beliefs expressed in the novel helped me become a more moral and well-rounded human being. The book reminds people of the importance of happiness and its effect on other people. If you want to learn how to escape the mental walls that you put yourself around, read this book immediately.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    Once again, I should have reviewed this book when I finished it in October. The specifics have become rusty as end of semester chaos envelops my brain. That said, I loved this book. It's not a perfect book, but this look at the immense possibility we have in our lives is great. I felt better about life with each subsequent chapter as Roz and Ben Zander explored different ways we can transform our personal and professional lives. It is a book that I will be picking up again come the end of grad s Once again, I should have reviewed this book when I finished it in October. The specifics have become rusty as end of semester chaos envelops my brain. That said, I loved this book. It's not a perfect book, but this look at the immense possibility we have in our lives is great. I felt better about life with each subsequent chapter as Roz and Ben Zander explored different ways we can transform our personal and professional lives. It is a book that I will be picking up again come the end of grad school as I prepare to establish what my "adult" life is going to look like. Read it and then call me - I can't wait to hear what you thought! ps. I am fully aware that I described very little of what is actually in this book, but if the number of margin comments or post-its sticking out of the book are any indication, this book has dozens of takeaways...far too many to do justice to in a mini-review. Let's just say that I have thought of this book every day since I finished it and am trying to embrace more possibility in my life. Happy reading!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    I just finished the audiobook version of this book, which I highly recommend. Narration makes or breaks an audiobook for me and this one was MADE. It is read by Zander and his wife Rosamund Stone Zander, switching off parts. Many of the examples are from Benjamin Zander's experience as a conductor, and the audiobook adds the Mahler and Beethoven in the background to help bring a lovely depth of emotional experience to the anecdotes. People who actively work on understanding themselves might not I just finished the audiobook version of this book, which I highly recommend. Narration makes or breaks an audiobook for me and this one was MADE. It is read by Zander and his wife Rosamund Stone Zander, switching off parts. Many of the examples are from Benjamin Zander's experience as a conductor, and the audiobook adds the Mahler and Beethoven in the background to help bring a lovely depth of emotional experience to the anecdotes. People who actively work on understanding themselves might not find much new here, but the metaphors and the "rules" for helping discover the art of possibility are applicable to both personal and work relationships. And everyone could use a refresher in that. If you work at a start-up, I think this would could be invaluable to help shape and guide the perspectives of strong type A personalities towards a more collaborative approach to solving "wicked" problems.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aleisha Zolman

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I enjoyed the husband/wife perspectives in this book as they described their version of living with possibility. Catchy phrases such as "giving them an A", contributing to making a difference in the whole, enrolling as choice to participate in following the spark of passion, "rule #6--don't take yourself so seriously", giving way to passion, and establishing that you are the framework for everything that happens in your life are nice reminders to live with possibility. I would like to thank my d I enjoyed the husband/wife perspectives in this book as they described their version of living with possibility. Catchy phrases such as "giving them an A", contributing to making a difference in the whole, enrolling as choice to participate in following the spark of passion, "rule #6--don't take yourself so seriously", giving way to passion, and establishing that you are the framework for everything that happens in your life are nice reminders to live with possibility. I would like to thank my dad for teaching us to live towards possibility. I would also like to thank my friend Dave and Kristi Sewell for reminding me that I am a person who thinks and believes in possibility. P.S. It is a story based self help type book with one bit of swearing and one bit of sexual discussion with a married couple. You may find it offensive.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    The authors' professional experience range from conducting world class orchestras to pyscho-therapy to leadership workshops. They offer some great techniques for working in groups. I especially like the approach of "Giving Everyone an A" where you ask the class/team to envision the end of the class/project. Each member is asked to write a letter explaining why they received the A, i.e. what did they do that was outstanding. Then each moves forward to live that plan they outlined. Another nice te The authors' professional experience range from conducting world class orchestras to pyscho-therapy to leadership workshops. They offer some great techniques for working in groups. I especially like the approach of "Giving Everyone an A" where you ask the class/team to envision the end of the class/project. Each member is asked to write a letter explaining why they received the A, i.e. what did they do that was outstanding. Then each moves forward to live that plan they outlined. Another nice technique is to "Be the Board" where instead of playing a strategic game with a win-loose attitude, accept everything that happens as interesting and simply be the gameboard where it is played out. As the board, you can imagine what you'd like to see and arrange the board to encourage play without dictating moves.

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