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The Art of Possibility The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander
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The Art of Possibility Quotes Showing 1-30 of 52
“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.”
Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“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.”
Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“Life is revealed as a place to contribute and we as contributors. Not because we have done a measurable amount of good, but because that is the story we tell.”
Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility
“Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view. Enlarge the box, or create another frame around the data, and problems vanish, while new opportunities appear.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“I am here today to cross the swamp, not to fight all the alligators.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“Recognizing Pablo Picasso in a train compartment, a man inquired of the artist why he did not paint people “the way they really are.” Picasso asked what he meant by that expression. The man opened his wallet and took out a snapshot of his wife, saying, “That’s my wife.” Picasso responded, “Isn’t she rather small and flat?” 5”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“On the whole, resources are likely to come to you in greater abundance when you are generous and inclusive and engage people in your passion for life.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“If I cannot be present without resistance to the way things are and act effectively, if I feel myself to be wronged, a loser, or a victim, I will tell myself that some assumption I have made is the source of my difficulty.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“Michelangelo is often quoted as having said that inside every block of stone or marble dwells a beautiful statue; one need only remove the excess material to reveal the work of art within. If we were to apply this visionary concept to education, it would be pointless to compare one child to another. Instead, all the energy would be focused on chipping away at the stone, getting rid of whatever is in the way of each child’s developing skills, mastery, and self-expression.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“Who am I being that they are not shining?”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“I am the framework for everything that happens in my life.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“Presence without resistance: you are now free to turn to the question, “What do we want to do from here?” Then all sorts of pathways begin to appear:”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“when you declare yourself an unwilling victim of a known risk, you have postured yourself as a poor loser in a game you chose to play.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility
“We keep looking so hard in life for the “specific message,” and yet we are blinded to the fact that the message is all around us, and within us all the time. We just have to stop demanding that it be on OUR terms or conditions, and instead open ourselves to the possibility that what we seek may be in front of us all the time.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility
“Giving an A is a fundamental, paradigmatic shift toward the realization that it is all invented—the A is invented and the Number 68 is invented, and so are all the judgments in between. Some readers might conclude that our practice is merely an exercise in “putting a positive spin” on a negative opinion, or “thinking the best of someone,” and “letting bygones be bygones.” But that is not it at all. No behavior of the person to whom you assign an A need be whitewashed by that grade, and no action is so bad that behind it you cannot recognize a human being to whom you can speak the truth. You can grant the proverbial ax murderer an A by addressing him as a person who knows he has forfeited his humanity and lost all control, and you can give your sullen, lazy, secretive teenager an A, and she will still at that moment be sleeping the morning away. When she awakes, however, the conversation between you and her will go a little differently because she will have become for you a person whose true nature is to participate—however blocked she may be. And you will know you are communicating with her, even if you see that she is tongue-tied or too confused to answer you just then.

When we give an A we can be open to a perspective different from our own. For after all, it is only to a person to whom you have granted an A that you will really listen, and it is in that rare instance when you have ears for another person that you can truly appreciate a fresh point of view.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility
“WHEN ONE PERSON peels away layers of opinion, entitlement, pride, and inflated self-description, others instantly feel the connection.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“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.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“When you give an A, you find yourself speaking to people not from a place of measuring how they stack up against your standards, but from a place of respect that gives them room to realize themselves.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“So, the practice of enrollment is about giving yourself as a possibility to others and being ready, in turn, to catch their spark. It is about playing together as partners in a field of light. And the steps to the practice are: 1.  Imagine that people are an invitation for enrollment. 2.  Stand ready to participate, willing to be moved and inspired. 3.  Offer that which lights you up. 4.  Have no doubt that others are eager to catch the spark. A “no” can so often dampen our fire in the world of the downward spiral. It can seem like a permanent, implacable barrier that presents us with limited choices: to attack, to manipulate our way around it, or to bow to it in defeat. In other words, a “no” can seem like a door slamming instead of merely an instance of the way things are. Yet, were we to take a “no” less personally, and ourselves less seriously, we might hear something else. We might hear someone saying, “I don’t see any new possibility here, so I think I’ll stick with my usual way of doing things.” We might hear within the word “no” an invitation for enrollment.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“Will you give me two quarters?” conveyed a vibrant new world, one in which asking, giving, and receiving were all easy, generous acts. Possibility has its own music, its own gestures, its own kind of radiance, and the attendant caught the spark. How could we help but be joyous that we had the means among us to make everything work?”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“I began to write a different narrative: that my husband did indeed know me and love me, and was offering me the best he had to give. Then when I talked with him, I spoke from within the framework of the A, to someone I had defined as able and willing to hear me. As long as I practiced in this manner, I found that virtually all the conversations we had were productive in a way I had never before imagined they could be. A”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“The pathway of the A offers us a profound opportunity to transform our personal histories. It allows us to reevaluate the grades we assigned to others when we were children, grades that affect our lives now, as legends we live by. How often do we stand convinced of the truth of our early memories, forgetting that they are but 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.

Usually the impetus for transforming your own past will come from a feeling of hopelessness in the present, a sense that you have been through the same frustrating experience time and again. Our analytic powers don’t seem to help, though some of us never weary of exercising them. The people we are involved with seem so fixed in their ways. How can we get them to change? We tend not to notice our own hand in this ill-starred situation, so rarely are we looking in a productive place for the answer. Why not give some attention to the grades we are handing out?”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility
“Often people are quite uncomfortable with the idea of granting the unearned A because it seems to deny the actual differences between one person’s accomplishments and another’s. We are not suggesting that people be blind to accomplishment. Nobody wants to hear a violinist who cannot play the notes or to be treated by a doctor who has not passed the course. Standards can help us by defining the range of knowledge a student must master to be competent in his field.

It is not in the context of measuring people’s performance against standards that we propose giving the A, despite the reference to measurement the A implies. We give the A to finesse the stranglehold of judgment that grades have over our consciousness from our earliest days. The A is an invention that creates possibility for both mentor and student, manager and employee, or for any human interaction.

The practice of giving the A allows the teacher to line up with her students in their efforts to produce the outcome, rather than lining up with the standards against these students. In the first instance, the instructor and the student, or the manager and the employee, become a team for accomplishing the possible; in the second, the disparity in power between them can become a distraction and an inhibitor, drawing energy away from productivity and development.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility
“ROZ: My sister and I became guarded with each other in the weeks and months after our mother died. I don’t think either of us had a handle on what it was about, but I, in my characteristic way, was eager to roll up my sleeves and iron out some issues with her. She, less given to argument, preferred to keep her distance. Many is the time I drove through the streets of Boston presenting my case in the most cogent terms to a full courtroom just beyond the dashboard, while she was safely closeted a state away. My birthday came and went and still we had not managed to get together; of course I felt all the more put upon. Finally I had the grace to ask myself, “What’s happening here?” and I caught a glimpse of the in-between. All the energy I had been expending to shape a persuasive argument was actually propelling us apart. And I missed her—acutely. I thought that if I could just see her we surely could find some solutions. So I called her, and invited myself to her house for breakfast, and got up in the dark and was down in Connecticut by seven. There in the kitchen in her nightgown I found her, looking like my favorite sister in all the world. We talked gaily while we drank black Italian coffee, and then we took a long morning walk down the leafy dirt roads of Ashford, Connecticut, while her chocolate Lab, Chloe, ran ahead and came back, ran ahead and came back, in long arcs of perpetual motion. What did we talk about? The architecture, and the countryside, and the cats that Chloe was eager to visit at the farm ahead. We revisited scenes featuring our hilarious mother. We talked about my work, and about a paper she was about to present. My “case” never came up; it must have gotten lost somewhere along that wooded road because by the time I got in the car—my courtroom, my favorable jury—it was no longer on the docket. Did we resolve the issues? Obviously not, but the issues themselves are rarely what they seem, no matter what pains are taken to verify the scoreboard. We walked together, moved our arms, became joyous in the sunlight, and breathed in the morning. At that moment there were no barriers between us. And from that place, I felt our differences could easily be spoken. My disagreements with my sister were but blips on our screen compared to the hostilities individuals and nations are capable of when anger, fear, and the sense of injustice are allowed to develop unchecked. “Putting things aside” then becomes quite a different matter. At the apex of desperation and rage, we need a new invention to see us through.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“Where is the electric socket for possibility, the access to the energy of transformation?”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“a universe of possibility—the only place from which you can enroll other people.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“South Africa, the embodiment of symphonia, the sounding of all the voices together. A living, breathing entity. Returning from a visit to a medical clinic in the township of her name, Alexandra said: “What’s so amazing is that nobody is hiding anything. All the problems of society hit you in the face. You can see the terrible conditions of the squatter camps, and the total disparity among people’s lives. It’s all in the open. And it is tolerable,” she said, “because you see that it’s not how people want it to be. It seems as though everyone knows that everybody is trying to change it. They don’t identify a particular group as being a problem. It’s the whole society that has the problem, like a broken bone. I wonder how much of this has to do with the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
“I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big successes. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of human pride. —WILLIAM JAMES”
Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

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