I’ve been thinking about possibility… about bringing an attitude of possibility to whatever comes up during the day. Possibility thinking involves experiencing something and asking yourself some “wonder” questions like,
“I wonder what might be another way to handle this?”
“I wonder what other thoughts I could have about this?”.
It involves opening up to what wants to happen rather than trying to direct the course of things with old patterns and interpretations. For example, close relationships can suffer under the weight of old conflict and judgment patterns. We hear something from a loved one that triggers a defensive reaction. Our heart rate increases, tension flares somewhere in the body, the brain tightens and suddenly we’re filled with criticism and judgments.
What’s another possibility? Instead of acting in defense (getting angry, critical, or withdrawing), PAUSE (if needed, ask for a few moments of quiet), take a few deep belly breaths with complete exhales and then ask them to tell you more so that you might understand better. (I know this is challenging at times, but it’s important to practice if we are ever going to change these self-defeating and relationship damaging patterns.)
Possibility thinking involves seeking a creative solution for reoccurring problems (or just doing something in a different way) rather than doing what you’ve always done. It also involves new experiences for learning, growth, and the delight of wonder.
For example, recently I went for a walk in a rural park with a friend. We came to a big open field and saw that a young man was doing some adjustment on a back pack with a motor and propeller attached to it. Curious as always, we asked what it was about. He told us that he was a parasailer and he decided to try to get up in the air by using this motor and prop. His take off was done by running along as fast as he could to get himself launched. This young man was definitely into possibilities! This was his first attempt at it and he was very excited which infected us as well. So we asked if he needed any help and he gratefully accepted. After just a handful of attempts with our help holding the parachute up so it could catch the wind, he launched to all of our delight. When he landed, our glee spilled over and I shared the photos I took of him. He was thrilled as he wanted his friends to see that he could actually do it. As we left, we both laughed and commented that this was an unusual walk as we never imagined coming upon this kind of experience where we got to participate in someone creating a whole new possibility for himself. Just thinking about it now I can feel the surge of possibility energy I had that evening.
I have had a lot of help along the way of becoming a possibility thinker and creator. I offer some of them to you here.
- I highly recommend the book, The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Ben Zander. It is an extraordinary resource which provides you with “the means to lift off from that world of struggle and sail into a vast universe of possibility.” (from the book Introduction).Rosamund is an executive coach, family therapist, and brilliant teacher in all things possible. Ben Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, musician, and teacher extraordinaire (with a great deal of humor). For your delightful viewing, I recommend Ben Zander’s TED talk (these are 20 minute presentations by leading thinkers in a variety of fields) on the topic of possibility. He does it in a surprising way. Go here to view it.
- Bobby McFerrin is also a brilliant conductor (formerly of The Minnesota Orchestra) musician, artist, and originator of exquisite creative processes. He leads groups and organizations in discovering what is possible when you expect your creative spirit to rise and lead you. Go here to view a short video of him demonstrating this very idea with a large audience. It’s thrilling to witness and you can even participate in it.
- Lastly, I highly recommend Gay Hendricks’ book, The Big Leap. This book provides some of the best coaching in identifying your genius possibilities starting with clearing up beliefs that anchor you to old ideas of yourself and what’s possible. And moving into identifying what is your unique contribution to life. As Gay says, “you don’t have to be a genius to have genius”. It’s a matter of shining the light in the right place.
As we approach the mid-point of this hot summer season, I encourage you to look for some new possibilities for your life – in your relationships, your work, your creativity. What wants attention and how can you bring it into full and creative expression?
Here’s to your magnificent creative possibility!