Benjamin Zander’s book “The Art of Possibility” starts with this story:
A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying,
SITUATION HOPELESS. STOP. NO ONE WEARS SHOES.
The other writes back triumphantly,
GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. STOP. THEY HAVE NO SHOES.
To the marketing expert who sees no shoes, all the evidence points to hopelessness. To his colleague, the same condition points to abundance and possibility. Each scout comes to te scene with his own perspective; each returns telling a different tale.
How often does fear win over our hopes and dreams? We constantly keep thinking about our frustrations but not about the potential that we still have in us. Don’t let your failures so far interfere with what is still possible for you to do.
The book will help you learn how to focus on what’s possible given a difficult situation, rather than just concentrating on the current problem. This is something that is very valuable when trying to work with others, and it will help you improve your process.
It also emphasizes the importance and value of failure. The Zanders explain how it’s often best to react to mistakes by saying “How fascinating!” and treating them as opportunities for improvement.
The Art of Possibility is deceptively easy to read. Filled with stories and examples from the worlds of both music and therapy that illustrate twelve helpful practices, you can quickly get through the text. However, these are simple to understand but difficult to master, so you may want to move through the book more slowly.
Pablo Casals was a great Spanish cellist and conductor who is considered one of the greatest cellists of all time. He believed that music has the power to save the world.
When he was 93, he was asked why he continued to practice the cello three hours everyday. Pablo’s response to this question, in my view, is the hallmark of excellence. He said, “Because I think I am making progress and improving.”
The French novelist Marcel Proust one said, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” Learning gives us that new set of eyes.
Malcolm Gladwell has famously said, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
Although some may see recognition of excellence as an ultimate goal, the quest never really ends with the receipt of an award. The process of improvement continues.
The pursuit for excellence never ends.
Pablo Casals on Creative Vitality and How Working with Love Prolongs Your Life via Brain Pickings