Possibility Thinking

“Identical Conditions will have different experiences.” – Benjamin  Zander

Benjamin Zander’s short video (5 min) “The Art of Possibility” (below) deeply resonates with my philosophy and how I experience the world. My parents are one of the greatest influences in my life. After I was born, my mother resigned from her job, chose to be a house wife for the next five years, and spent most of her waking hours taking care of me. She read books and held conversations with me.  In addition, my father was enlisted in the U.S. Marines and worked side jobs to provide for the family. On a side note, I have fond memories of growing up in a one bedroom apartment and having meals on a cardboard box covered with tablecloth.

My parents left the comfort of their native land, Philippines, (before I was conceived) for the purpose of giving me the opportunity of a better life. They came from a small farming village. The houses were made of woven plant material, the floor was made of bamboo, water came from a pump outside of the house, and the toilet was flushed by using a bucket of water poured into the toilet bowl.

My parents had the choice to stay where they were comfortable or venture out into the unknown. “The States,” as my parents called it, was a faraway land with contrasting cultures, possibilities, and opportunities. I am thankful that my parents chose to make that journey to enhance the quality of their life and give me the opportunity to spread my wings and fly with the eagles.

One of the lessons, I learned from my parents is the ability to see the possibilities and experience life to its fullest. After all, dwelling on negativity or seeing things as “not going to work” does nothing to increase our potentials. In fact, it will stop our ability to grow, appreciate, and learn. Zander’s story and concept about the two salesman resonates with me because people have a tendency to have different experiences with identical conditions. It all boils down to choice. Everything we do is interconnected and the choices we make now will affect our experiences in the future. For example, my parents choosing to come to “the States” greatly influenced who I am today. Something to think about at a grander scale, what if George Washington was told as a child that he will not amount to anything and George believed it? Now imagine the changes that would have followed, who would have been affected, and would there be a United States of America?

“Nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done.” – Sam Ewing

As a leader, we must create and support an environment of possibility thinking to shift the organizational culture from “can’t be done” to a “can do” mindset. In addition, it is important to be mindful about the power and influence of choice. We may think our choices only affect us, however, we are interconnected and our choices will affect those around us and the generations that follow. Therefore, a leader must first believe in positive possibility thinking and then infuse it into the work environment.

Reflections:

  • What roadblocks keep you from seeing the possibility?
  • Do excuses serve as a catalyst towards a negative self-fulfilling prophecy? Why?
  • Is it easier to live in a world of “can’t do” vs “can do?” Why?
  • What shapes our perspectives?
  • What are the triggers that influence our perspectives?
  • What control do we have in defining our experiences?
  • What motivates you toward exploring the possibilities?

Activity Challenge:

For three days, every time you encounter a negative experience, write down in a journal what happened and how you felt. Then in the evening, explore why you felt the situation was negative. What solutions come to mind in changing the negative to a positive? What triggered the negativity? Was the negative event caused by a series of prior negative events? If yes, then what were they?

After mindful reflection, take a few deep breaths and knowing what you know now, would you still react the same way if you went back in time to those negative events?

YouTube Video: Benjamin Zander’s “The Art of Possibility”

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