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The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life [Paperback]

Rosamund Stone Zander , Benjamin Zander
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Aug 2014
Filled with the inspirational stories that made the book a global success. Possibility is prevalent--and can be found in everyday actions. The Art of Possibility, first published in 2000 and now in an updated paperback edition, offers 12 breakthrough practices for bringing creativity into all human endeavors. The book combines the experience and talent of Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and lifelong teacher, with the vision of psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander, a pioneer in the field of leadership and relationship coaching. Through the use of uplifting stories, parables, and personal anecdotes, the authors present an interwoven perspective that offers a glimpse of the powerful role that possibility can play in every aspect of life.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (7 Aug 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1625275943
  • ISBN-13: 978-1625275943
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Amazon Review

The lure of this book's promise starts with the assumption in its title: The Art of Possibility. Possibility--that big, all-encompassing, wide-open-door concept--is an art? Well, who doesn't want to be a skilled artist, whether in the director's chair, the boardroom, on the factory floor, or even just in dealing with life's everyday situations? Becoming an artist, however, requires practice, and what the authors of The Art of Possibility offer is a set of practices designed to "initiate a new approach to current conditions, based on uncommon assumptions about the nature of the world".

If that sounds a little too airy-fairy for you, don't be put off; this is no mere self-improvement book, with a wimpy mandate to simply transform its readers into "nicer" people. Instead, it's a collection of illustrations and advice that suggest a way to change your entire outlook on life and, in the process, open up a new realm of possibility. Consider, for example, the practice of "Giving an A", whether to yourself or to others. Not intended as a way to measure someone's performance against standards, this practice instead recognises that "the player who looks least engaged may be the most committed member of the group", and speaks to their passion rather than their cynicism. It creates possibility in an interaction, and does away with power disparities to unite a team in its efforts to produce an outcome. Or consider "Being the Board," where instead of defining yourself as a playing piece, or even as the strategist, you see yourself as the framework for the entire game. In this scenario, assigning blame or gaining control becomes futile, while seeking to become an instrument for effective partnerships becomes possible.

Packed with such examples of personal and professional interactions, the book presents complex ideas on perception and recognition in a readable, useable style. The authors' combined, eclectic experience in music and painting (as well as family therapy and executive workshops) infuses their examples with vibrant colour and sound. The relevance to corporate situations and relationships is well developed, and they don't rely on dry case studies to do it. Indeed, this book assumes the readers' emotional intelligence and desire to engage, promising access to the rewards of that door-opening notion--possibility--in return. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"As applicable in the workplace as in an intimate relationship." --The Boston Globe"In the presence of either Zander, one's spirit soars. Now they reveal their secrets in a deeply satisfying book. I guaratee you'll be inspired." --Gail Sheehy"The passionate energy permeating The Art of Possibility is a true force for every reader for self-development and life fulfillment." --Klaus Schwab, founder and president, World Economic Forum --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Performances for Everyone! 3 Feb 2001
By A Customer
'. . . The objective of this book is to provide . . . the means to lift off from . . . struggle and sail into a vast universe of possibility.'
Benjamin Zander is the conductor of The Boston Philharmonic and is well known for his orchestra's passionate performances. Rosamund Stone Zander is an executive coach, family therapist, and private practitioner who brings enormous psychological perspective to enhancing human behavior. They have written a fascinating book in which they alternate as voices in sharing principles and examples in the form of compelling stories.
They have striven to make what they share ' . . . simple, not easy.' The idea is to help you create in yourself and in others 'transformational' improvements.
They share a series of perspectives designed to improve your understanding of what and where the potential is.
First, humans tend to focus on very few things, missing most of what is going on around them. By shifting focus, you will see many opportunities for the first time. Much of this book is designed to do that for you. You will visit our old friend the nine dot square and be reminded that connecting all of the dots in four lines without lifting your writing instrument from the paper requires you to go outside the box that we mentally draw at the circumference of the dots. Be careful about your assumptions! They can fence you in!
Second, measurements can cause us to focus too narrowly on where we are today and encourage scarcity thinking -- the glass is half empty. The Zanders encourage thinking about the glass as half full, citing the well-known perspective of optimism as being empowering. This can help you 'step into a university of possibility.' I like to call this pursuing the ideal practice.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is an enlightening book and a joy to read. In a world where much that passes for self-help seems to be delivered by megaphone and involve plentiful sprinklings of exclamation marks it's wonderful to read such gentle but purposeful prose. I'm not much of a fan of classical music myself but the use of the orchestra as a metaphor for the complexities of human relationships is original, engaging and totally appropriate in ways I could never have imagined. It certainly struck a very clear chord with me. The style is direct and fresh with plenty of captivating stories and vignettes to illustrate key points. The simple rules like 'Giving an A', 'Leading from any Chair', and 'Being the board' make such complete sense in Ros and Ben's hands.
If you are interested in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) you'll get a lot out of this book. It pulls off the trick of writing a handbook that illustrates many of the central NLP principles and beliefs of excellence without using any of the scary jargon or even mentioning 'NLP'. Just loads of common sense without a hint of evangelism.
I don't usually write in books but I found myself reading it with highlighter firmly gripped in hand. I just know I'll be revisiting this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and inspiring 11 Mar 2006
The Art of Possibility from R.S. Zander and B. Zander is a well written and very interesting book about how you can approach your life from a different point of view: Instead of comparing yourself to others and striving for your own survival, you can be of service and make yourself available for others. You can act from a place of respect that gives the people around you the room to realize themselves. If you like those kinds of possibilities, you might also enjoy “Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work” by Ariel and Shya Kane. Their approach of living in the moment and not in your thoughts is very refreshing. You can explore your life and your truth like an anthropologist: neutrally and without judging. I highly recommend it for anybody who is looking for a new approach for a fulfilling and satisfying life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is a book that reaches the head and the heart. It is indeed a book about POSSIBILITY. The read is easy - but the words get you to think and challenge yourself. You get the impression throughout that here are a couple of people who are not just espousing some good practices - they are people who are really trying to enact these practices in their daily lives. If you love music it is an added bonus. Ben Zander provides wonderful insights into the stuggles of professional musicians and into the challenges of musical interpretation. I bought his conducting of Mahler's 9th and on my version I found an extra disc with Ben talking you through the score. Now that's commitment to sharing and learning and a leaf I only wish other conductors would take out of Zander's book. Thanks!...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful 21 Feb 2007
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Family therapist Rosamund Stone Zander and symphony conductor Benjamin Zander offer 12 practices for learning to take on an attitude of abundance and possibility. You will enjoy Benjamin Zander's charming anecdotes from his experiences as a distinguished orchestra conductor, as well as the philosophy of family therapist Rosamund Stone Zander whose professional background gives her a deeply insightful viewpoint. Indeed, some of the Zanders' stories are so striking that they will stay with you long after you put the book down. We recommend this book to people who like to explore self-development, story lovers, music aficionados, anyone who has taken on a big commitment and other creative types who will savor the authors' unusual frame of reference.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring read
Love this book, an inspiring read and something I refer to and use way beyond having read it. Highly recommended.
Published 12 days ago by Mary E. Gregory
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
fantastic reading,
Published 16 days ago by P. Bastiani
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Bit too 'california hippy school' of self-help some interesting stuff but covered by others in many similar books.
Published 17 days ago by simon lw
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
This book is really life changing! Excellent buy for anyone that is interested in changing their lives for the better.
Published 11 months ago by Colin Daley
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Everything was better than expected: faster & the book looked newer. And I am irritated toe have to write more.
Published 15 months ago by A.L.M. Schutte
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and practical
This is such a neat little book but, as the authors stress, it requires you to do the work. Each "practice" is outlined and then illustrated with true incidences of the authors... Read more
Published 17 months ago by B. E.
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy read and relevant
A very readable book with interesting examples. I'm not usually into 'self help' but this really did make me think about the way I approach things in life. Read more
Published 17 months ago by just looking
5.0 out of 5 stars Encouraging & Inspiring
This excellent book offer inspiration and a positive sharing philosophy for life and the sharing of the arts. Highly recommended.
Published 17 months ago by Wendy Ridley
4.0 out of 5 stars A game changer.
This book was recommended by Seth Godin and I picked it up entirely because of the recommendation.
It's a brilliant book that will make you think twice about your life. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mariella Mejia
2.0 out of 5 stars not my kind of thing
I found it to be a bit boring and egotistical didnt enjoy it and got nothing out of it sorry
Published 19 months ago by maureen omar
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