I think this book can offer a lot of insight for those involved in the arts, in particular. I can’t say that I mind that it was written by a conductor. “Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view.” (Zander and Zander, 2000, p. 14) When I read this portion, I couldn’t help but think of our elementary coordinator. She’s a fantastic example to me. Despite all of the challenges she faces on a daily basis, she approaches each “obstacle as an opportunity”. I’ve seen her turn messy situations into positive outcomes for everyone involved.
“What might I now invent,
That I haven’t yet invented,
That would give me other choices?” (Zander and Zander, 2000, p. 15)
I love this approach. It is problem solving through innovation. In my life, I find that I favor having an excess of choices. I am never more frustrated than when I feel I don’t have enough options. (My husband on the other hand prefers 2 or 3 strong options so he can make a decisive choice and move on. Clearly we need each other to keep balance!) But I’m diverging from the book - the point is, this approach to problem solving is an attempt to burst open the box. It allows more solutions enter the scene.
This book has some interesting perspectives on perception of reality. I would agree to the truth that seeing things from another person’s point of view completely changes the relationship for the better. Empathy allows us to step outside our own needs and desires to consider someone else’s. At points, however, The Art of Possibility sounds a lot like the “Positivism” mantra that has become so popular. Change your lens and you can change your life. Well, that’s somewhat true…but it doesn’t negate the facts, or physically change circumstances. I think you need to have a balance. At times it is appropriate to accept a situation for what it is.
Chapter 4 is an interesting conversation about human worth. What makes us valuable as human beings? The “Art of Possibility” speaks about declaring yourself a contribution, rather than assessing your worth based on tangible achievement. I have to bring up my mother-in-law here…she was famous for reminding my husband: “You’re a human being, not a human do-ing!” as he grew up. When you’re naturally a hard worker, you need to hear that every once in a while. There’s a lot to be said for viewing yourself and others as acontribution. I think it takes away some of the self-invented stress and pressure to succeed. Each day we have the opportunity to contribute to someone else’s life, and to receive what they are able to uniquely contribute. Sounds like beautiful interdependence to me! Well, I would be remiss if I didn’t further comment on the question of human worth. Where does it come from? Is it all mindsets or social structures? I can’t read this chapter without being influenced by the Bible. At the end of the day, our self-worth exists evenbefore our contributions to others. It’s deeper than that. I believe we have worth because we were lovingly designed and created by God. And amazingly, there’s nothing you can do to earn that worth. It’s already been given to each and every person.
“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, New International Version).
If I make my contributions the measurement of my worth, my value is going to change day to day. Even when I’m trying to love others and contribute to their lives, I can’t do it perfectly. Thank God my value is NOT dependent upon me. Because God first gave me worth, I can joyfully live as a contribution to others.
Zander, R. S., & Zander, B. (2000). The art of possibility. Boston, Mass:
Harvard Business School Press.
Harvard Business School Press.
Week 2 - Reading Response
Saturday, October 8, 2011