Roz Zander and Ben Zander on The Art of Possibility, Part 6

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 6th Practice: Rule Number 6

In this chapter, Roz and Ben discuss what Rule Number 6 is. They offer the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so goddamn seriously.’

In our “measurement” world, we develop a persona, a part of ourselves, that can help us survive in the competitive environment. That persona is a “calculating self,” trained to adapt our behaviors to react to the measurement-heavy surrounding. This “calculating self” is concerned for its survival in a world of scarcity.

Our “calculating selves” teach us to be more powerful as judges. When we start judging everything around us, we form opinions and assumptions that might be right or wrong. Unfortunately, when we interact with the world with only our calculating self, it is easy to fall into operating under a false set of assumptions. Rule Number 6 can help us recognize our calculating self in action.

Our calculating self comes with layers of opinion, entitlement, pride, and inflated self-description. When we peel away those layers, others can instantly feel the connection. By applying Rule Number 6, we can reveal our calculating self and make a way to allow our central self to shine through.

Unlike the calculating self, the central self is neither a pattern of action nor a set of strategies. Instead, our central self is a term we use to embrace the remarkably generative, prolific, and creative nature of ourselves and the world. From the perspective of the central self, life moves with fluidity like a constantly varying river, and so do we.

When we operate with the central self in the driver’s seat, we are more confident that we can deal with whatever comes our way. We see ourselves as permeable rather than vulnerable. We are more open to influence, to the new and the unknown. We are also under no illusion that we can control every aspect of our surroundings. We join rather than resist the flow of possibility.

When we practice Rule Number 6 and lighten up our childish demands and entitlements, we are better positioned to cooperate with others to reap the benefits of the universe of possibility.