Roz Zander and Ben Zander on The Art of Possibility, Part 10

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 Tenth Practice: Being the Board

In this chapter, Roz and Ben discuss the concept of being the board on which the whole game is being played. They offer the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

The concept of “Being the Board” allows us to move the problematic aspect of any circumstances from the outside world to inside the boundaries of ourselves. By redefining the board and boundaries, we choose to take accountability for our circumstances. Taking responsibility helps us discover new possibilities and strengthens us at no one’s expense.

There are two parts to mastering this practice. The first part is to declare: “I am the framework for everything that happens in my life.” The second part deals with unwanted circumstances, and we need to ask ourselves, “How did this get on the board that I am?”

Roz and Ben further phrase the first part of the practice as this. “If I cannot be present without resistance to the way things are and act effectively, if I feel myself to be wronged, a loser, or a victim, I will tell myself that someone assumption I have made is the source of my difficulty.”

By taking accountability as the framework of our circumstances, this approach opens the possibility of a graceful journey. Grace comes from owning the risks we take in a world, by and large, immune to our control. Gracing ourselves with responsibility for everything that happens in our life can leave our spirit whole and allow us free to choose from possibilities.

When unwanted things happen to us, the second part of the practice allows us to dig deeper into our preconceived notions and assumptions up to that point. By asking the question, “How did this get on the board that I am?” we will bring to see the obvious and more subtle contributions of our calculating self, our prior experience, or earlier decisions that landed us where we are.

In the world of measurement, we live in the illusion that we have only ourselves to rely on. That illusion amplifies our need for control. When unwanted things happen, and we lose that control, we look for ways or things or people to blame.

Instead of gaining control over every aspect of our lives, the practice of being the board is about making a difference. We are no longer concerned that the other people examine her assumptions; instead, we see that the “stumbling blocks” that stand in our way are part of us. Only we can remove those “stumbling blocks.”

Furthermore, the practice launches us on a journey of transformation and self-development that calls for courage and compassion. We relinquish our claim for “fairness” or “justice” in favor of the riches that possibility can offer. The rewards from the journey are self-respect, deep connection with others, and a straight route to making a difference.