Roz Zander and Ben Zander on The Art of Possibility, Part 11

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 Eleventh Practice: Creating Frameworks for Possibility

In this chapter, Roz and Ben discuss how we can invent and sustain frameworks that bring forth possibilities. They offer the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

Roz and Ben suggest that there are three steps to the practice of framing possibility are:

  1. Make a new distinction in the realm of possibility: a powerful substitute for the current framework generating the downward spiral.
  2. Enter the territory. Embody the new distinction so 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.

When we distinguish our framework’s on-track vs. off-track notions, we focus on maintaining the framework’s clarity. Being “off-track” often tells us that the possibility we had defined is absent, forgotten, or has never been clearly articulated.

A vision is a powerful framework to take an organization’s operations from the downward spiral into the arena of possibility. However, a vision is not a mission statement, as they are not interchangeable.

Roz and Ben believe that a vision becomes a framework for possibility when it meets specific criteria.

  • A vision articulates a possibility.
  • A vision fulfills a desire fundamental to humankind, a passion with which any human being can resonate. Yet, it is an idea to which no one could logically respond, “What about me?”
  • A vision does not refer to morality or ethics; it is not about the right way of doing things. It cannot imply that anyone is wrong.
  • A vision is a picture of all time, using no numbers, measurements, or comparatives. It contains no specifics of time, place, audience, or product.
  • A vision is free-standing – it points neither to a rosier future nor a past in need of improvement. Instead, it gives over its bounty now.
  • A vision is a long line of possibilities radiating outward. It invites infinite expression, development, and proliferation within its definitional framework.
  • Speaking a vision transforms the speaker. For that moment, the “real world” becomes a universe of possibility and the barriers to realizing the vision disappear.

The practice of framing possibility calls upon us to use our minds to think about the contexts that govern us. It trains us to be alert to the danger that unseen definitions and assumptions may covertly chain us to a downward spiral.

We can define new frameworks for the possibility of bringing out the part of us that is most contributory, unencumbered, and most open to participation.