“Two shoe salesmen were sent to Africa in the 1900s to find if there were any opportunities for selling shoes. In telegrams back to the Manchester office, one of them wrote, “Situation hopeless. Stop. They don’t wear shoes.” The other wrote, “Glorious opportunity. They don’t have any shoes yet.”
The one who sees no shoes, all the evidence points to hopelessness. To his colleague, the same conditions point to abundance and possibility.
–Benjamin and Rosamund Zander, authors ‘The Art of Possibility’
My all-time favorite inspirational and glorious read is The Art of Possibility by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander. Through twelve ‘rules’ designed to challenge our limiting beliefs, they help us shift from a perspective of scarcity to abundance, and change the framework in which we see and act in the world.
Benjamin Zander is a supremely inspiring, talented teacher and speaker, as well as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic; Rosamund Stone Zande is a highly respected family therapist and an executive coach who designs innovative programs for personal and professional fulfilment. Together they’ve created The Art of Possibility.
I’ve picked out a few of the Rules, and write about them in very tiny snippets. If anything resonates with you – I encourage you to read the book:
Rule #1 It’s all invented. Everything in life is an invention. The way we see things. The way we measure things. The way we compete. The way we judge ourselves. “If it’s all invented, then you might as well invent and reframe your life in a way that benefits you. One that is full of possibility.”
Rule #3 Give an A. If you automatically assume the best and give everyone an A in life, then you get the best out of people. “The practice of giving an A transports your relationships from the world of measurement into the universe of possibilities”.
Rule #4 Being a contribution. Nearly everyone lives in The Measurement World without realizing it. How much money we make. Whether our team wins. Everything is based around some form of measurement. You don’t need to play The Measurement Game. Instead of focusing on how you measure up, focus on how you contribute to the world around you. Contribution is not measured based on other people. It’s only measured based on what you put into the world around you. That’s it. If you add something, you’ve contributed.
Rule #6: Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. “When we follow Rule number 6 and lighten up over our childish demands and entitlements, we are instantly transported into a remarkable universe. The new universe is cooperative in nature, and pulls for the realization of all our cooperative desires.”
Rule #7. The way things are. Acceptance of what is, of your presence — and of making the best of any situation. “When you accept that things are the way they are, instead of complaining and resisting, you’re in a position to make the best of the situation. You’re allowed visions, dreams and appreciation for your current place. You’re more open to finding solutions or to making the best of the situation in your mind. You can leave behind the struggle to come to terms with what is in front of you, and move on.”
Rule #11 Creating frameworks for possibility. Imagine no limitations exist; the universe is abundant, open and infinite.Think abundance instead of scarcity. People who describe the glass as half full are not delusional optimists. In fact, they are more based in reality because they are describing a substance that is actually in the glass. They are describing reality as it is. The cynic who describes the glass as half empty is focusing their energy on something that is not actually there. It is the framework of scarcity, that there is only so much available in the world, and that causes divisions between people, not actual scarcity.
The Zanders encourage you to step away from the world of measurements and of scarcity. “In the measurement world you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold.”
As a speaker, Benjamin Zander is bursting with possibility – inspiring, exhilarating, compassionate, energetic. In this famous 20-minute TED Talk Benjamin’s in full, passionate, and educational flight: Benjamin Zander’s 2008 TED Talk has changed the way that the world thinks about classical music. It introduces the idea of ‘One-buttock playing’ — being passionate about what you are doing, leaning into it — and giving it your all. (see the other video I posted if you only have 3 minutes)
If you have just a few minutes to spare, here’s a 3-minute snippet of Benjamin talking about the Art of Possibility …