The Art of Possibility

Posted on April 23rd, 2013 by


At our last meeting, the SLP Apprentices watched the video, The Art of Possibility. In this video, conductor Benjamin Zander explains his approach to leadership. Zander sees leadership as a potential to be filled, rather than a status to be gained. He also believes in servant leadership and applies it to his work. The video offered the following eight points of importance to Zander’s leadership;

  1. The art of leadership is about a new way of being.
  2. Speak possibility: recognize downward spiral and enroll people in the journey to radiating possibility.
  3. Look for “shining” eyes.
  4. Enroll every voice in the vision.
  5. Lead by making others powerful.
  6. Quiet the voice in the head that says, “I can’t do it.”
  7. Everyone gets an “A.”
  8. First rule of leadership…Remember rule #6!  (Don’t take yourself too !#%$* seriously!)

We would like to highlight a few of these points. Not often these days does someone hear that a professor gave an A before the class even started, let alone that everyone in the class received an A before the class even started. Instead, we’re used to constantly worrying about grades, living up to the professor’s standards, and future opportunities contingent on present schoolwork. This often leads to stress and trying to “do just enough,” instead of driving to reach full academic potential. Zander’s idea of everyone gets an “A,” revolutionizes how students approach the class, and what they subsequently get out of it. When Zander uses this technique, he believes that this will help students to strive to reach their full potential because they will motivate themselves and have no fear of failure. Imagine if this technique were implemented in classrooms today. Would students thrive on self-provided desire to be their best? Or would students simply take advantage of an easy A? Moreover, is this technique reserved for mature college students, or should it be for students of all ages? Regardless of our speculation, Zander appears to have success with this method, and his teaching methods should be discussed in school systems around the world.

The next point we would like to highlight is number three; look for shining eyes. As the conductor, Zander, conducts his orchestra, he watches his musician’s eyes. He looks to see how people are reacting to him and the music in general. Zander believes that the eyes speak to the feeling of the soul. He wants the entire orchestra to be in the passionate moment. If eyes are bored or blank, Zander knows that something is missing. What is missing is passion and that is the most important part of making music great. Zander must do everything he can to bring out the spirit of every individual musician. The goal is that everyone plays with shining eyes, and gives the gift of music to the audience.

Zander presents a unique approach to leadership that allows everyone to reach their full potential. Although Zander is a conductor, his concepts apply to any situation. We challenge you to start thinking like Zander, to inspire and motivate the people around you so that you can ultimately create great music.


-Nate McNab


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