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The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life Hardcover – 7 Aug 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (7 Aug. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1625276206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1625276209
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,266,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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.

Review

"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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THIS IS A HOW-TO BOOK of an unusual kind. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Feb. 2001
Format: Hardcover
'. . . 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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Peter Manning on 3 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
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 By H. Koegler on 11 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
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 By mightywaters@compuserve.com on 30 Jan. 2001
Format: Hardcover
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 By Rolf Dobelli TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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