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The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  3,092 ratings  ·  437 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 210 pages
Published September 24th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 2000)
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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
...more
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 ...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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 ...more
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
...more
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.
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
...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
...more
Henna Paakkonen-Alvim
This book gives guidance on how to transform the learnings from a philharmonic orchestra conductor and his psychotherapist wife into self development and into more powerful leadership practices by transforming challenges into opportunities.
This is one among many such leadership/self development line of books on the market, however this one appealed to me thanks to the orchestra/leadership analogy. Having personally played in an orchestra as the second/third violin, I could identify myself with m
...more
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 ...more
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
...more
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
...more
Christine
I chose to listen to the audio book, which I really enjoyed, because it included excerpts from the songs the Zanders reference throughout the text. Very insightful, yet still entertaining. The idea that life is a narrative construct perfectly ties into my academic studies, and the simple idea that if you do not like your current framework, than change it to something more positive is profound and under-adopted.
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
...more
Clara
Benajmin Zander's TEDx speech is what made me choose this book. I usually buy my books on Kindle, but this one I thought it's worth to have it as a hard copy to easily return to it.

As I expected, it is extremely inspirational. Full of stories ,it opens your eyes to see beyond what's obvious, and look at the things from the perspective that everything is possible. For a long time I was upset that perception is reality and many times people don't see you as you are. Now I realize that this can be
...more
David Williams
I worked with Ben for several years, bringing his talks to British audiences, and I produced a video 'Benjamin Zander: Conducting Business' (now sadly unavailable) which brought many of the stories in this book to life through Ben's inspirational ways of working with business audiences and musicians directly. Ben's wife Rosamund was kind enough to act as 'first reader' for the facilitator's guide to my video, and I returned the favour for the first draft of this book, so I have to declare my bia ...more
Aleisha Z Coleman
Jan 19, 2009 Aleisha Z Coleman rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: most adults
Recommended to Aleisha Z by: another DI find!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 ...more
Anne
I read this book when it first came out, back in 2000. It was so fantastically inspiring that I bought a second book --- and lent them both to friends in Houston. When I read it again in 2011 --- a borrowed book from the university library, it was as if I was reading it for the first time. I have changed. So the way I read and interpret has changed as well. During my years studying at conservatory, one of my teachers played a video of Benjamin Zander talking to Fortune 500 executives. You can vi ...more
Michael
When I inherited my current office, the former occupant left this book on the shelf. One day I picked it up, and I read it during breaks and while riding various shuttles.

This self-help book is a collaboration between Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, and his wife Rosamund, a psychologist. It prescribes some Zen-like ideas for transformational living, and the ideas are well illustrated with some delightful stories. For example, there's the story of "Giving an A" in which Be
...more
Lauri
Although I put off reading this book for several months, once I finally started it, I really enjoyed it. It is not your average "self-help" or enlightenment book, since it was written by the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and his wife, a therapist; rather, it gives you a different way to view and interact with the world and other people. One of the ideas I liked best in the book was the suggestion that you go into situations ready to "give everyone an A". You'll have to read the ...more
Juliana T.
I was given this book by the CEO of a company I used to work for. It is a book I often find myself re-reading and suggesting to friends, and even gifting...I love it that much! The Zander's have a gem here. My favorite part is his tidbit on not being fearful of taking risks and failing...how failures are opportunities and when something goes wrong he uses the mantra "How Fascinating!" to break up the tension of the moment. This worked for me in situations with my toddler at the time and it was a ...more
Laura Thompson
If you can get the audio version, not only do you get to enjoy it read by the authors (although the Mrs. does not compare to the Mr.) you also get orchestra and movie clips which enhance the experience.
Steve Newman
I was encouraged to read this book by my manager. Rather than being written by business mangers, it is written by creative professionals and reads as such. Rather than being prescriptive and direct it has a tendency to wander through examples that relate to the points being made. If you are a right brain thinker (like myself) the book is difficult to relate to because it is overly fluffy, optimistic (love and everyone getting along) figure too much into the theories of developing vision and buil ...more
Laurie
The rating of 3 is a waffler - could be a 3.6 or a 3.7 - it's more than a 3, but not quite a 4. Why the waffling? Because every so often I felt that Ben or Rosamund was rambling. Yet the book is fairly short at 196 pages, so perhaps my assessment stems from having read portions at night, when I was tired.

This book has been on my "to read" list for quite awhile. I discovered Ben Zander via a youtube video of the Davos Annual Meeting 2008 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zErpO...) and immediately
...more
Ilya Mrz
Take-Aways
Practice 12 paths to spiritual growth and change:
First, identify and, if desired, change the habits, assumptions, perceptions and
attitudes that support the life that you are currently living.
Second, think abundance rather than limitations and scarcity.
Third, encourage others by addressing the best in them.
Fourth, assume that you contribute to the world and live accordingly.
Fifth, lead from where you are. Imagine that you can enroll people and change the
world from any position you occup
...more
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SWOT Analysis II: Looking Inside for Strengths and Weaknesses: Transforming Professional and Personal Life Stepping into a Universe of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life Telling the WE Story: Transforming Professional and Personal Life Lighting a Spark: Transforming Professional and Personal Life It's All Invented: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

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“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.” 18 likes
“How often do we stand convinced of the truth of our early memories, forgetting that they are assessments made by a child? We can replace the narratives that hold us back by inventing wiser stories, free from childish fears, and, in doing so, disperse long-held psychological stumbling blocks.” 15 likes
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