As soon as Ben Zander threw a copy of this book into the audience, at the Closing General Session at Lotusphere 2009, I knew I had to read it. He was arguably the best Closing Session speaker IBM has ever scheduled. Because of him, I have a new found appreciation for classical music (and have several selections on my iPod, including iTunes Essential Classical), have a better outlook on a lot of things in my life, and find that I remember parts of his speech to this day. It seemed appropriate that I read his book, to reinforce his message and to learn more about The Art of Possibility.
An Invitation to Possibility
Launching the Journey
Chapter 1: It's All Invented
Chapter 2: Stepping into a Universe of Possibility
Chapter 3: Giving an A
Chapter 4: Being a Contributor
Chapter 5: Leading from Any Chair
Chapter 6: Rule Number 6
Chapter 7: The Way Things Are
Chapter 8: Giving Way to Passion
Chapter 9: Lighting a Spark
Chapter 10: Being the Board
Chapter 11: Creating Frameworks for Possibility
Chapter 12: Telling the WE Story
About the Authors
Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and has been a guest conductor with orchestras from around the world. Rosamund Stone Zander is an executive coach, family therapist, and artist, who is able to generate a high level of creativity and accomplishment from organizations and individuals. Together, they have written a book of "practices" that allow the reader to create a framework where extraordinary accomplishment is normal. They break the book into "practices" which illustrate specific facets of The Art of Possibility and allow you to reach new heights of success; personally and professionally. As a teacher, Ben Zander proposed that at the start of his classes he gives every student an "A." The result was more passionate students, ones that, on their own, were able to achieve more than Zander could have hoped. His premise is that if your teacher, manager, significant other, gives you an "A" at the start, you may be surprised at the extraordinary things that you will accomplish. Simple, and yet, using their examples, the Zander's have hit on an important trait of human behavior. In Chapter 6, the "famous" Rule Number 6 chapter, you are reminded that you take yourself way too seriously. This creates a downward spiral of emotions and actions that makes you less effective and more prone to destructive behaviors. And then there is Giving Way to Passion, with the acronym "BTFI." One of the funniest and most effective stories in the book. You will find yourself in a situation where it seems that no matter what direction you choose, you are being setup to fail. It is at that moment when you remember "BTFI" (Beyond the F$%k It), rediscover your passion, your energy, your *possibility* and go from good to great.
If you peruse this book, prior to purchase or borrowing, you may wonder, as I did, how is it possible to connect with stories mostly from and about world class musicians? Strangely, you can. And they have validity in your personal and professional life. You can see the connections in a new and refreshing way. I think that it what makes this book stand apart from the crowd in the "self help" section. Simple lessons, fortified with anecdotes from music, art, and business, that have a lot of value to the everyman. Not every chapter will have meaning for you immediately or solve all of your problems, but you *will* find value in this book. It should alter your perceptions, change the way you relate with your superiors and subordinates, and give you the tools to break free from the downward spiral into a world of possibility. A simple lesson, one which I picked up in Chapter 9, Lighting a Spark, is appropriate in this very connected, Web 2.0 world in which we find ourselves; the value of a face-to-face meeting cannot be overstated. It's easy to send an e-mail, instant message, or phone someone. But when you make the effort to meet someone in person, it solidifies the relationship and allows both people to achieve more than was possible through electronic means.
This is one of the best books I have read this year. And, if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend attending one of Ben Zander's presentations.
Technorati tag: book review The Art of Possibility Benjamin Zander
Comment posted by Bruce Elgort03/04/2009 10:54:42 PM
I read the book and it has taught me a tremendous amount. One day I will emerge again on my blog and share in detail how in fact it has changed me.
Comment posted by Gregg Eldred03/05/2009 01:02:21 PM
@Bruce: I gave a couple of examples how it has made changes in my life in the review. There are several more, not least of which is a change in attitude. It continually amazes me how an upbeat and positive outlook will have an immediate affect on those around you.
I look forward to your thoughts.
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