Roz Zander and Ben Zander on The Art of Possibility, Part 1

In the book, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life, Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander show us the 12 things we can do to go on a journey of possibility, rather than living a life full of hurdles and constraints of our own making.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

The First Practice: It’s All Invented

In this chapter, Roz and Ben discuss how our senses and experience shape our understanding of the world and the constraints we place around ourselves. They offer the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

We reach an understanding of the world in roughly this sequence:

  1. Our senses bring us selective information about what is out there.
  2. Our brain constructs its own simulation of the sensations; and
  3. We have our first conscious experience of our environment.

In other words, we often perceive the world with a map already drawn and a hypothesis of our own making.

Such behavior can make it difficult for us to perceive the world with an open mind when we have already made up our minds about the world. The same behavior also often influences us to see a world map rather than the world itself.

Our minds are also designed for stringing events into storylines, whether or not there is any connection between the events. We also tend to connect seemingly unrelated events into a logical sequence of cause and effect if we feel there are good reasons.

These phenomena can cause us to place artificial constraints around our environments and our lives. But many constraints and obstacles we face in our daily lives can be seen as something we put around ourselves. In other words, it’s all invented.

With that “It’s All Invented” notion in mind, Roz and Ben ask us to consider this possibility. “It’s all invented anyway, so we might as well invent a story or framework of meaning that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us.”

We should ask ourselves this question:

“What assumption am I making,

That I’m not aware I’m making,

That gives me what I see?”

Once we have an answer to that question, we need to ask ourselves this question:

“What might I now invent,

That I haven’t yet invented,

That would give me other choices?”