Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wk2 Blog Post - The Art of Possibility ch. 1-4

This week I began reading The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone and Benjamin Zander. If you ever felt we are all living in one giant rat race of a world where we are all constantly struggling to survive, constantly competing against one another, and constantly hung up on measuring our successes, you are not alone. In fact, there are countless others, including myself, that have the desire and capability in transporting to another vast universe of possibility. 

Chapter 1 helped me understand that our minds are designed to string events into story lines, or in other words, construct. Just like the senses of every species are vastly different and fine-tuned to perceive information critical to their survival, we also can design our own existence with our own internal "map" for survival. However, before we can go about creating our own happiness, we need to realize that it's all invented. Opportunities are all around us, and will not come to us. We have to strategically and methodically work hard and build a bridge to those opportunities. To my initial surprise, I was able to complete the famous nine-dot puzzle provided under 15 seconds in my mind, using my own rules and POSSIBILITIES, such as using the whole sheet of paper. The best strategy in helping with the practice it's all invented is to eradicate common assumptions. 

Chapter 2 helped me to truly and effectively contrast the 'Measurement World' vs. this so-called 'Universe of Possibility'. In simpler terms, the 'Measurement World' is a confined world where we are constantly jumping hurdles and obstacles to strive for success or a better place than where we are. The 'Universe of Possibility' is what we enter once we realize that our everyday reality is not confined to traditional frameworks within society. In a realm of possibility, we gain knowledge by invention and it consists of all worlds, aside from the 'Measurement World', such as "Infinite World', 'Generative World, and 'Abundant World'. Most of us can easily experience it by just forgetting ourselves and become part of all being. The best quote of this chapter to me was: "In the measurement world, you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold." It helped me understand that in order to be successful, we shouldn't be hung up on achieving the mark, yet rather participating joyfully with our projects and goals to be better able to connect to people all around us. 

Chapter 3 was my favorite chapter of this week's reading, because it was very inspiring and helped me understand the heart of mastery. The first example that was posed in the beginning of the chapter stated that if you simply give a student a B+, you are only matching them up against other students, yet if you constructively point out the student's errors, you are indicating something real about their performance. Not only that, issuing out a bland grade only creates competition that puts a strain on connecting with others and too often consigns students to a solitary journey! I loved the Michaelangelo quote provided: "Inside every block of stone or marble dwells a beautiful statue; one need only remove the excess material to reveal the work of art within." Metaphorically, this beautiful statue in education is each child's developing skills, creativity, mastery, and self-expression. THIS should be the practice of giving an A -- an enlivening approach that promises to transform you as well as them by supporting them to be all they dream of being. This is another fine way of entering the 'Universe of Possibility', rather than keeping your eye on the statue's roughness of the uncut stone in the 'Measurement World'. Another quote that opened my mind greatly was: "Standards can help us by defining the range of knowledge a student must master to be competent in his field. However, standards and constant alterations of grades defines the limits of what is possible between us." If everyone were to be granted an A, we can all be open to different perspectives than the instructor's, and everyone will really listen and engage. I think this is why we are all given 100 points for professionalism in the beginning of each class, in accordance with Full Sail University's GPS guidelines.

Chapter 4 covered what it takes to be a contribution. The opening story of the woman throwing stranded starfish's back into the sea happily and serenely, much to a bystander's concern and dismay that there are too many starfish and not enough time to get them all back into the ocean, was epic. There truly was no mention of a rescue mission or a measured goal, so why create mountains out of molehills? We all can be contributors in our own right. I grew up as the second child of a very accomplished brother who graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in computer science from a traditional 4-year university -- so I often felt I was living in his shadows, especially as my parents constantly praised his accomplishments and measured successes more than nurture my comparable potential. The game of contribution in chapter 4 is defined as: "waking up each day and basking in the notion that you are a gift to others". This is why I always treat others impartially and comfort them with the knowledge that they all have something unique to bring to the table. I truly admire the instructor of the music performance class who had his class take a moment to write down how they have "contributed" over the past week! What made this so awesome was how the contributions did not need to be about just about the course content, yet anything that comes to mind. This, in turn, produces a shift away from self-concern and engages us in a relationship with others that is an arena for making a difference collectively. We all have complementary perspectives and a voice that needs to be heard. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we all can have a one-way trip to the "Universe of Possibility". 


  1. Hi Shrav;

    When I was reading the first four chapters of this book, I began to see my older brother complaining and lectured me about my life, and the decisions that I've made. And you know what? I began to smile, because I realized that I accomplished more than he did. Sure, he has a well paying-job, a good apartment, wife and a daughter. But, is he giving himself an A for that? I don't think so. On the other hand, I am finishing my Masters Degree, traveled to China representing my country, played with my band on national TV. Did I give myself an A. You betcha!!!!. I think that instead of looking at the things you don't like from a sibling, a student or a co-worker, or boss, we should be looking to the positive side of that person and how they contribute to our lives and to our work.

  2. Your reflection on the reading this week reminded me of a timeline. As you went from chapter to chapter, you shared personal views as well as tying in the themes of the text. I liked one view in particular that you shared in Chapter 2's reflection and that is participating joyfully with our projects. I have to say that I whole-heartedly agree with that. I have not been so involved in and gotten so much out of an experience until this past 11 months. I have not only learned and had fun, but did so with a smile; most of the time I should say.

    On another note, I have to agree with not measuring accomplishments, achievements, and successes using numerical grades. We need to have the perspective on what we/they were able to complete as well as how did we/they feel throughout the process. We all do have our own perspectives but when they come together with those of others I believe that great things can happen.

    1. Hi Dara --

      I've been meaning to reply back to your comment. It was very thoughtful. I must say, I've had nothing but a smile as well looking back in hindsight these last 11 months. It has truly been one sensational journey.

      Your last sentence truly made my day. Yes, great, and even amazing, things and solutions can happen if people simply put aside their egos and values, and accept the myriad of perspectives we can all offer each other. This is why the "Universe of Possibility" exists.


  3. Shrav,

    First off I do like how you had your posts organized and addressed key issues in each chapters. I love that several of the same stories or quotes stuck with us. The quote from Michelangelo as you know spoke volumes to me! And even though I did not mention the starfish story in my post that was a big pause and reflect moment. I equate that story to the first one about the shoes and then to the seeing the glass half empty or half full. I get very discouraged and frustrated that change is not happening fast enough in education; I need to realize that it is important to keep chipping away one starfish at a time. I need to hope that more and more people will jump in and save the rest of the starfish, that they will not think it is futile and walk away.

    Faith just posted on my blog a response to my statement, why is there so much talk and no action, she asked, what are you going to do about it? Good question, I guess I am going to continue to be the lady on the beach and save one starfish at a time, isn’t that all we can really do?

  4. Shrav-
    You couldn't have chosen a better image to go with your response!
    I really liked that you pointed out that our our professor has chosen music to play at the beginning of our sessions. I think that same mindset was in play when he chose this book for our readings. This book is not the traditional textbook that matches our course of study. It is a reading that pertains to all of our lives and has made us reflect on many personal things. I was nervous at the start of this course with all that was required, but these reading have actually been motivating to push through the last of our journey. I am so glad that you have made personal reflections to this book and I think it will continue to do so in thinking about our futures!
    Keep on pushing!

  5. Great overview and summary of the reading for this week.