Roz Zander and Ben Zander on The Art of Possibility, Part 4

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 Fourth Practice: Being a Contribution

In this chapter, Roz and Ben discuss the concept of playing a contribution game rather than a success/failure game. They offer the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

Too often, we treat life as a series of success/failure games. We notice mostly the obstacles and constraints in our lives. We warn others about the limitations of having too much to do, having too little time, not enough resources, and quality too hard to measure, just to name a few.

While we play the game of success/failure, we judge ourselves based on other people’s standards. We would often ask the questions of “Is it enough?” or “Would I be loved for what I have accomplished?” We desperately seek reassurance from others about our value and place in life.

Another angle to consider is exploring the possibility of playing a game of contribution. The contribution game is not about attaining other people’s standards or judgment. Instead, we hold ourselves accountable to the joyful question of “How will I be a contribution today?”

By switching the focus from a success/failure orientation to a contribution orientation, we can shift the context from survival to one of opportunity for growth. Ben suggests we take the following two steps for practicing:

  1. Declare ourselves to be a contribution.
  2. Throw ourselves into life as someone who makes a difference. Also, we embrace the reality that we may not understand how or why.

Naming oneself and others as a contribution produces a shift away from self-concern and engages us in a productive relationship with others. Rather be overly concerned with the superficial measurements of being cheap, good, and fast, we ask more questions like “Who is it for?” and “What is it for?”