In Chapter 7 of “On the Same Page” Book Club selection The Art of Possibility, authors Roz and Ben Zander explain why acceptance of “The Way Things Are” is challenging, and how this way of acceptance opens up possibilities that might otherwise go unnoticed.

In Chapter 11 of “The Art of Possibilities,” authors Roz and Ben Zander teach us practical steps for inviting more possibilities into our lives.

I’ve been obsessively pondering how to heal a massive rift in my community.  People on both sides of the issue have dug themselves in deeply, positive that their solution to the problem is best for the community.  There’s also a fat helping of self-serving, but I’d be arguing with reality to wish it were otherwise.

Many community members would rather be right than heal the community, and that’s troubling to me.

While the division seems intractable, reading Chapter 11 in The Art of Possibility has given me hope that perhaps we can create a framework that will shift the limiting behavior and downward-spiral thinking that plagues us.

At its core, the way to allow possibility to flow in and around and through a situation is to approach it from a place of abundance and courage, leaving scarcity and fear behind.

It requires everyone to let go of their stories of lack and danger, and to believe that solutions satisfactory to everyone are available, IF we’re all willing to reveal our vulnerabilities and needs, and trust the other side to treat them kindly.

In a sense, we’d be “reframing” the issue in a way that opened up other options, beyond the good/bad, yes/no, right/wrong dualistic frame within which we habitually operate.

Begin by thinking of a similar situation in your life, where some seemingly intractable situation has presented itself, and apply the Zanders’ prescription for positive lasting change:

  1. Make a new distinction in the realm of possibility: one that is a powerful substitute for the current framework of meaning that is generating the downward spiral.
  2. Enter the territory.  Embody the new distinction in such a way that it becomes the framework for life around you.
  3. Keep distinguishing what is “on the track” and what is “off the track” of your framework for possibility.

The first practice opens up your thinking to new, positive possibilities by asking “What distinction shall we make here that will bring possibility to the situation?” This question leads us away from a dualistic (good/bad) approach.

The second practice asks us to live in a state of abundance and openness, using “purpose, commitment and vision” to “radiate possibility.”  Gandhi named this practice becoming the change you want to see in the world, by making space for courageous conversations among disparate and deeply opinionated humans.

The third practice reminds us to sort thoughtfully through ideas and circumstances to keep things moving in an upward direction.  “How does this serve possibility?” we might ask.

The Zanders give us one more practice, that of creating and maintaining focus on a vision, as the basis for effecting change.  Statements of vision can be a powerful tool for clarity when they articulate possibility, are inclusive of everyone, are not used to label what’s “right” or “wrong”, and aren’t boxed in by a time frame or measurement of any kind.  A vision radiates infinite possibilities.

By virtue of its detachment from time (it doesn’t speak to a past that needs improvement or a future that looks better) a vision “gives over its bounty now.”

Like any other dream, it exists at the moment it’s conceived.  Once it has been formed (even if it’s just a “thought form”), it begins to make a difference.

Significantly, for our own personal growth, “Speaking a vision transforms the speaker.  For that moment, the ‘real world’ becomes a universe of possibility” and obstacles cease to exist.

I’m going to use the Zanders’ framework creation practice to see if I can demonstrate compassionate leadership in my community, and create abundance where smallness and lack currently reign.  I’m willing to speak the language of possibility, and to hear the inevitable “Kumbaya” comments, to experiment with a different reality.

Your Practice:

Where in your life is there a push or pull, black or white, yes or no situation that might be ameliorated with a broader view of the possibilities?  Can you apply the Zanders’ process to shake something loose, and allow abundance to seep in where lack has taken up seemingly permanent residence?  How will you use the three steps to framing possibility and employ a vision to create an outcome that perpetuates abundance, joy and freedom?

Please tell your story of creating possibilities in the comments section below.  Who knows?  You may be invited to be a guest blogger in our next “On the Same Page” book club, to be published by The Wayfinder Post this summer!

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