The dictionary defines Art thus:
the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
It describes Possibility as:
the state or fact of being possible; anything that is possible
Combining both terms, as “The Art of Possibility” what we get is this:
The production, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance of anything that is possible!
Now ain’t that something? But the question is, what exactly is this art of possibility? I believe from the analysis above, it has to do with the fact that you can produce what is beautiful, because in the strictest sense, anything is possible.
Everything I talk about on this blog will relate back to my experience at LeaderShape, and this for me is definitely one of the highlights of that experience. Without it, this blog would definitely not be in existence. And I’d assume it’s a good thing that it is in existence. You can read the About to get a grasp of what I’m speaking of.
So enough with the preamble….
We were told at the first day of the retreat that LeaderShape’s vision had a lot to do with two major things, namely: leading with “integrity”, and “a healthy disregard for the impossible” – I translated this to mean “endless possibilities”. And to be honest, everything we did had something to do with those two terms. Now, I am a dreamer, so the endless possibility stuff attracted me, though in a very subconscious way. Now, I am also a self-conscious self-doubter, which means that I keep track of my failures, and disregard or fail to acknowledge my successes (most times, I don’t even see them at all). The failures and limitations are more glaring. Now, that chain was what the “healthy disregard for the impossible” was meant to break, and trust me it did break it.
We were told to think of a vision, and imagine that there was nothing stopping us from achieving it. We were told to dream, with no barriers…we were told to not see the sky, let alone see it as a limit. And I took the bait…
I refused to listen to the voices in my head that tried to dissuade me from dreaming. The calculating part of me nudged me to start thinking of my vision in terms of how “practical” or “reasonable” it is, but what I soon found out was that it’s unreasonable to weigh capacities in this realm of “endless possibilities”. Those words didn’t make sense anymore, everything was possible!
Having a vision allows one to be vulnerable. For me, it turned me to a little child…I was able to actually dream. Things I had told myself I wasn’t capable of doing, in an instant resurfaced, and I gained a renewed strength to pursue lost passions.
That my friends is what is called the Art of Possibility.
As with any type of art, there are techniques to be followed. Techniques are guidelines, and not hard and fast rules to be follwed. They only are there to give you a basic framework to work with, and after that, you can decide to in the metaphoric sense “step out of the box”, and break the rules. Many exciting forms of art have been produced by breaking the established rules. So what does this have to do with possibility?, you say.
Well, we’ve established that Possibility is an art, and it definitely comes with its own techniques that are meant to guide towards that realm.
It is in that light that I introduce you to this:
Benjamin Zander was one of the people we learned from and about at the LeaderShape retreat. His passion, and high energy for life is infectious. I, like most other people, thought he was crazy due to his highly optimistic approach to life. Life isn’t always that great, the cynic in all of us screams. However, in the realm of possibility, life can be…and that is what he aims to teach using humor, and other techniques.
So, on to those techniques.
Humor, as mentioned above is one of them. He calls it the Number 6 Rule: “Stop taking yourself damn too seriously”. Relax, enjoy life and when you make mistakes, throw your arms in the air and say “How fascinating”. (He’s crazy, I told you). This brings you out of what he calls the downward spiral, where you are in a rut of hopelessness and despair..no bueno.
“It’s all invented” is also another tool he talks about. This involves realizing that life consists of games that are invented, which can be recreated based on how we choose to tell our individual stories…and rather than playing a game of success/failure, where you are keeping scores, like me of how many times you’ve failed, you can decide to invent and play a new game. He calls that new game, I am a contribution game.
Quieting the voice in your head is a good one too, and it ties in with humor. I’m sure you’re familiar with those nagging voices, “you’re no good”, “stop dreaming, and wake up..smell the thorns on the roses” (yeah, they hardly point you to the beautiful things)…and it goes on. What he tells you to tell those voices is to say, “Thanks for sharing. I value your input, but I’m busy”
Others include, giving an A (which means that you should go ahead and award A grades to yourself and others, without consideration to merit or whether they/you “deserve” it or not), connecting with others in the sense of a community/collaboration, leading from any chair in the room…and the list goes on.
What this means is that you pretty much need to get the book…
I’ll end on this note, with a review of the book that captures the content of my heart , as written by Margaret J. Wheatley, Author of Leadership and the New Science, Coauthor of A Simpler Way, and President, The Berkana Institute.
“The Art of Possibility makes a humane and brilliant future possible. I truly want everyone to read this book – it opens us to the treasure of our great human capacity for creativity. These practices are simple yet extraordinarily effective for tapping into the unlimited energy of the human imagination”
Okay, and now to really end for real… I hope it’s not cheesy to say that I came across this song from a commercial by Kraft cheese (get it?), and it represents all that possibility is. Music speaks for me when words can’t, honestly. So, press play, and I’ll see you beyond the skies!