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The Art of Possibility

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  8,690 ratings  ·  896 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 July 27th 2006 by Penguin (first published 2000)
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Beth Manautou It reminds me of cognitive brain therapy in that a lot of the suggestions are all about shifting the way you perceive things. The chapter that deals w…moreIt reminds me of cognitive brain therapy in that a lot of the suggestions are all about shifting the way you perceive things. The chapter that deals with how we look at disappointments was one of my favorites. I think this book would be very beneficial for anyone looking to reframe their thinking towards possibility. (less)

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Heidi The Reader
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
The Art of Possibility takes a psychologist and a musician and smooshes their ideologies together to create a self help program.

"Our premise is that many of the circumstances that seem to block us in our daily lives may only appear to do so based on a framework of assumptions we carry with us. Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view." pg 1.

The various practices that are discussed in The Art of Possibility seek to create those new frames.

One of
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:

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
Mindi Vandagriff
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 were in ...more
Jul 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
A standard self-help book. No new territory. I kept thinking, this sounds like Landmark psycho babble. Sure the end they acknowledge Landmark. For a really excellent book that does offer something, read "Strangers to Ourselves" by Timothy Wilson. ...more
Kevin Beasley
Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing

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
Jim Dooley
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Saleh MoonWalker
به خاطر یکی از قسمت های TED این کتابو خوندم. نمیدونم دقیقا چقدر کمک کرد، اما میدونم که خوب بود. کتاب از 12 بخش اصلی تشکیل شده که شامل :

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 the Board
11. Creating Frameworks for Possibility
12. Telling the WE Story

کتابیه توی زمینه کمک به خود که روایتش خوب پیش میره و خوندنیه.

A cynic, after all
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015, nonfiction
Eh. I did take half page of notes as a read this book, so it does have some good thoughts. I also appreciated that many of the examples were taken from the world of music; so many examples in these types of books are taken from business, so a change was refreshing. All that being said, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. I can't really put my finger on it, but there was something about it that bothered me. The ideas and language were often too fuzzy, imprecise, a bit foofy. ...more
MsSmartiePants 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
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Lynette Hague
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My mom recommended this book to me and come to find out that we have a copy on our bookshelf as my husband has read it. I'm going to put it in my "to reread once a year" folder as it is that inspiring. One reviewer recommended the audio version, so I'd like to try that next.

This book is about rethinking the way you see relationships with others and situations. There are 12 practices that are discussed. Each practice has numerous examples which help clarify the new thought patterns. The concepts
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Adam Ashton
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting ideas about how to act and how to approach life
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy reading self-help books
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
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A must-read for those who feel they are hustling and at the same time feeling lost out on their present moment.
The whole practising-what-you-read feature of the book is outstanding.
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Heather Buelow
Oct 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: philosophy
The essence of this book is "having a positive attitude makes everything better." While I don't necessarily disagree with that statement, the entire book is a series of reiterations of the exact same phrase which makes for dull reading. The fact that the book has two authors - and they both write their own statements about each section - means the reiterations are two-fold in each section. Double the positivity boredom. ...more
Laura Kisthardt
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
I listened to this on audio. It was a quick listen. The authors read it together. They have interesting ideas and it sparked some creative thinking for me. I recommend it for anyone who is interested or likes orchestra music. I also recommend for people who like books about management or inspirational leadership.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In 2015: Excellent. Will definitely read again.

In 2018: This book breathes possibility into my heart and revives my soul.
Liz Minski
What ivory tower malarkey! Theories are sound, but through such a privileged lens!
Sep 30, 2009 rated it did not like it
I want to give this book NO stars...
had to read it for a class...this book is total BS
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Inga by: Nico
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. A lot of it is solid advice, but something about it rubs me the wrong way.

The book consists of 12 practices, which are supposed to teach you to be more open to possibility, thus changing your view on life and inter-personal relationships and making you less miserable in the long run. Each practice is accompanied with personal stories - mostly Benjamin Zander's , but some - Rosamund Zander's as well.

In the beginning of the book the stories annoyed the hel
Leslie Morgan
Apr 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Some helpful nuggets here, but I don't feel the stories from about classical musicians can necessarily be applied in other situations. These musicians are all people who clearly have a talent, ability and proper training and just need to be reminded of why they became musicians. What about people who have less direction in life? The authors essentially believe that you can change your reality by making up stories about your life and the people around you. It goes beyond the idea of reframing cha ...more
Joshua Castleman
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A lot of great perspective-shifting tools in here, to help get out of negative or toxic mindsets, and see opportunities instead. I think they are the ultimate optimists/idealists and not everything they say applies to everyone or every situation, but there is certainly a lot of useful stuff to take away. Besides, we could all use a healthy dose of idealism from time to time anyway. I highly recommend this to everyone! If we all started our day with these ideas and mindsets, the world would certa ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this slowly, one chapter at a time, maybe weeks between each chapter, sometimes one a day. I thought the lessons were really valuable and many will stick with me for a long time. I highly recommend for anyone who is looking to expand their possibilities - at work, in life - and move out of the box....
Gwen Daniels
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this one as part of an 8-month leadership intensive at work. Thanks in large part to the principles raised in this book, I’ve refrained my vision of leadership to identifying and fostering the potential of everyone. While some parts of the book are meandering or monotonous, I think it’s transformative for leaders like me who default to autocracy and perfectionism.
Brian Walsh
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio version which I think was fantastic as you hear the music in the background when appropriate, plus the change in voices to differentiate between the music part and the application to life part. Strongly recommend this to anyone as it applies in so many respects, whether you are a musician, artist or have no creative talents at all (like me :))
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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.” 36 likes
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