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Book Review The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander is the 26th book I read during the Read 30 Books in 30 Days Reading Challenge.  Seth Godin and Jennifer Jimbere highly recommend this book. The book has some excellent ideas and you may find that it’s what your business or career needs. 

Although this is a great book, it wasn’t the best one I read during the challenge. I think the book would have had more of an impact on me if I’d read it years ago. There is something that’s causing me to resist this book. 

Now having said that, the book has lots of information for me to apply. The bottom line is that life is about choices and you have to choose what works for you. You have to do the hard work and choose the best information for your business and career.

If you’re not a joiner, buy my e-book, Read 30 Books in 30 Days Like Francis Bacon instead? It’s a 30 Day Reading Makeover Challenge.

The Art of PossibilityRead 30 Books in 30 Days Like Francis BaconThe Innovation Stack

Book Bite: The Art of Possibility provides a framework for people to define themselves, connections to others, and the environment they live in. Reframe the obstacles holding you back, so you can see the opportunities. The content in the book allows you to see the leader in you. The Art of Possibility is not about making incremental changes. It’s a total shift to transform the world.

Before I write my review, I have a few things I need to say first. When was the last time you applied the information from a book you read to your business or career? Not applying great ideas is like preparing a seven course meal and not eating it. 

Participating in this reading challenge reminded me of the importance of not reading only bestsellers. I want to reiterate that because a book is a bestseller doesn’t mean that it’s a great book. It could be, but it could also be that the publisher has a great promotion engine behind it. The other issue is that someone writes a runaway bestseller. Then the publisher decides the author needs to write a sequel. And the author listens and writes the sequel.

But if you’re a discriminating reader, what you’ll discover is that oftentimes, the second book is essentially the same book as the first. Step outside your comfort zone and read some nontraditional books. What’s the point of reading the same books that others are reading? Or doing what you’ve always done!

What is The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life About?

The Art of Possibility provides a framework for people to define themselves, connections to others, and the environment they live in. Reframe the obstacles holding you back, so you can see the opportunities. Every dead end you find yourself facing in life appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view. Enlarge the box then create another frame around the data and the problem vanishes and opportunities appear.

The content in the book allows you to see the leader in you. Focus more on relationships to ignite the forces of possibilities. The book teaches us to move from struggle to possibilities. Life comes to us in narrative form – the story we tell ourselves. These are the ways we reach an understanding of the world around us.

  1. Our senses bring us selective information on what’s out there.
  2. The brain builds a simulation of the sensations.
  3. We have our first conscious experience of our social environment.

Your mind is designed to string events into story lines whether there’s a connection between the parts. You perceive the world through the structure of the brain. The mind constructs meaning. The frame your mind creates defines and confines what you perceive to be possible. The Art of Possibility comprises of 12 practices.

It’s important to have different perspectives on books. If you’re not a reader, you can find a synopsis of many books from Readitforme that you can listen to. Click the link to join. This is a great way to learn the latest thinking on many topics.

The 12 Practices of the Art of Possibility

  1. It’s All Invented: Assumptions are restrictions.
  2. Step into a Universe of Possibility: Step away from the edge, in fact go right over it.
  3. Giving an “A”: Overcome the restrictions of labels.
  4. Be a Contribution: Shift away from self-concern.
  5. Lead from Any Chair: Leaders are not just at the top.
  6. Rule #6: Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  7. The Way Things Are: Changing your language can change reality.
  8. Giving Way to Passion: Continue where you normally quit.
  9. Lighting a Spark: Certain things are better done in person.
  10. Being the Board: Own your problems.
  11. Creating Frameworks: Mission statements are simply constraints.
  12. Telling the WE Story: Focus on relationships rather than on yourself.

It’s all invented so invent a story that lights up your life. You have a blank canvas, so paint the story of your life. It’s all invented is the most fundamental of all practices the authors present in The Art of Possibility.

What assumptions are you making that you’re not aware you’re making that gives you what you see? That’s a mouth full, but important to understand. When you get an answer, ask, “What might I now invent that I haven’t yet invented that would give me more choices?”

Once you realize that it’s all invented you can create a new space to dwell where new inventions are the norm – the universe of possibilities. The world is going through a crisis right now. Everyone is impacted, but in very different ways. How can you reframe what’s going on in your world to create new possibilities for yourself?

World of Measurement – Familiar Everyday World

In a world of measurement, you strive for success. You hope to arrive at a better place than where you are. The problem with striving is that you never arrive anywhere. Life in measurement seems to be arranged in hierarchies. Look at the workplace. Action in the universe of possibilities is generative, giving, producing new life, creating new ideas, contributing. I love this.

Abundance comes to you when you’re generous and inclusive. When you live in the measurement world, you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe world of possibility you set the context and let life unfold. This doesn’t mean you don’t take action. It’s more about you trying to control everything. We love to have control. Ponder the following:

“How are my thoughts and actions, in this moment, reflections of the measurement world?”

The practice of Giving an A transports your relationships from the world of measurement to the universe of possibilities. When you give someone an ‘A’ you treat her with respect, allowing her to grow into her true potential. You give her the freedom and possibility to become her best self. Freely granting another person an ‘A’ expresses a vision of partnership, teamwork, and a relationship.

Someone who looks the least engaged may be the most committed. This makes so much sense and a reminder not to judge others. Giving an ‘A’ is a fundamental shift to realizing it’s all invented. When you choose to give someone an ‘A’ you open up yourself to a new perspective. Shift the context to opportunity for growth. How can you grow during the pandemic? Can Giving an A help to stop racism and other forms of discrimination?

How can you be a contribution today? Reinvent yourself as a contribution.

  1. Declare yourself a contribution.
  2. Throw yourself into life as someone who makes a contribution.

When you participate in the contribution game, all the players experience transformation. One of the things that struck me in the book because of its simplicity.

“If you shine attention on problems they multiply. Shine attention on solutions.”

Giving Way to Passion

  1. Notice where you’re holding back. Let go. Release the barriers and let passion flow through.
  2. Participate fully. Shape your passion into a new expression of the world. 

Give yourself the freedom to perform with passion. Speak passionately about what you do to get buy in for your vision.

Partners in Possibility

  1. Imagine that people are an invitation for enrollment. Enrollment is the art and practice of generating a spark of possibility for others to share.
  2. Be ready to participate. Allow yourself to be moved and inspired. Be open to new experiences.
  3. Offer whatever lights you up. What makes your heart sing for joy?
  4. Others are eager to catch the spark.

Ideas I Really Liked

  • There is so much discord in the world, how can you reframe a situation to remove divisions?
  • What can you introduce as a possibility?
  • In the realm of possibility, there are no divisions between ideas and action, mind and body, dream and reality.
  • Each person has an integral voice. Allow people to play their own music. 
  • Laughter and humor helps you to get over yourself. When you lighten up, situations that once seemed impossible problems are transformed into opportunities for possibilities.
  • Competition sets limits on what is possible. Instead focus on what you can contribute to others and the world and you’ll make a difference.

Final Thoughts: The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

As I was writing this review, something struck me. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t as excited about The Art of Possibility as the two people who recommended it. I respect both Seth Godin and Jennifer Jimbere. Suddenly, I realized that the book is loaded with case studies and examples – too many in my opinion. And that irritated me because it made the book much longer than it needed to be. I’ve written before that I don’t like it when authors include too many case studies and examples in their books.


Anyway, I still recommend The Art of Possibility because most people do like lots of examples and case studies. And the book does have a lot of great information that you can immediately act on. I’m going to pair this The Art of Possibility with The Innovation Stack. Both books deal with invention and innovation. Light a spark to ignite possibilities in your life.

What I’ve written here is just a fraction of the information in my notes. Read the book for yourself if you’re looking for possibilities.

Have you read?

Confident Career Woman Book 1: Read 30 Books in 30 Days Reading Challenge

Why Not You Book 2: Read 30 Books in 30 Days Reading Challenge

Own a Business? You Don’t Need Everyone, You Need 1000 True Fans

You’re Unstoppable: Learn How to Be a No-Limit Person

Start Taking Steps Now to Crush It Post Isolation

Go Suck a Lemon: How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?

Way of the Athlete: Learn the Art of Focus, Discipline and Achievement from Professional Athletes

Act Now: Do You Act Quickly on Opportunities Or Take Your Time

Is It Really a Good Time to Be a Girl, Ladies Please Chime In!

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero Will Help You to Get Through Isolation

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, Book Review

Book Review: Content Marketing Strategies to Attract an Engaged Audience

One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days, Book Review

Book Review – Patterns in Nature: Why the Natural World Looks the Way It Does

Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, Book Review

Book Review – The Outsiders by William Thorndike

Little Brand Book by Kalika Yap, Book Review

Book Review – The Innovation Stack by Jim McKelvey

The Acorn Method: How Companies Get Growing Again by Henrik Werdelin, Book Review

Book Review – The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran

How Avil Can Help You!

I invite you to Join the Performance Accelerator Plan that walks you through the process of learning key skills and more. You’ll be reading books to build skills and develop intercultural awareness.  Get more reading and learning tips here.

In December 2020, I published two books on Amazon. I would greatly appreciate your support if you bought my two short e-books Read 30 Books in 30 Days Like Francis Bacon and Performance Accelerator Plan: Guide to Learning and Mastering Key Skills for the Future.

Read 30 Books in 30 Days Like Francis Bacon is not about speed reading. It’s about approaching every book differently and reading only the sections that align with your purpose.

The Performance Accelerator Plan book is a stripped-down version of the paid reading challenge of the same name. Obviously, you won’t get all the resources that come with the program that I sell on my website. But if you are a self-directed learner, it will help you tremendously.

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Book Review The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life


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