Imagine the Possibilities
Benjamin Zander has conducted the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra for 50 years. He has guest conducted all over the world and served as an esteemed professor at the New England Conservatory.
While he was a professor, he noticed that his music students were so focused on getting an A in the class that they would diminish their spirit and play it safe to please the professor. "Class after class, the students would be in such a chronic state of anxiety over the measurement of their performance that they would be reluctant to take risks with their playing."
So he decided to try something new.
In January, on the first day of the semester, he announced, "Each student in this class will get an A for the course. However, there is one requirement that you must fulfill to earn this grade: Sometime during the next two weeks, you must write me a letter dated next May, which begins with the words, 'Dear Mr. Zander, I got my A because....,' and in this letter you are to tell, in as much detail as you can, the story of what will have happened to you by next May that is in line with this extraordinary grade."
The students submitted their letters with these phrases:
"I had the courage to examine my fears...I was scared to make a mistake...but now a lack of belief in myself is gone."
"I have found a desire to covey music to other people, which is stronger than the worries I had about myself."
"I am accepting the joy that comes from knowing that my music changes the world."
"I found that if I believe in myself I can do everything."
This week, let's write our own letters to capture the results we want to see and have fun imagining the possibilities!
Imagine the Possibilities
Select a date about six months in the future. Imagine what you want to have become, accomplished, designed, decided, or figured out by that time.
Write a letter to yourself that you will read at the future date. Place yourself in the future, looking back upon the last six months. Write in the past tense, as if it has already occurred.
Use phrases such as:
I let go of
I know now
I did the thing
I had courage to
Imagine the possibilities of what could develop for you by then.
Repeat this practice periodically to remind yourself of your desired growth and to keep the possibilities alive.
Benjamin Zander tells of this practice and many others in his book, The Art of Possibility, co-authored with his wife, Rosamund Stone Zander.
Benjamin also created one of my favorite TED talks, on the transformative power of classical music.
I read The Art of Possibility in 2002, soon after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and in the midst of experiencing years of infertility. I shared with my husband, Rob, the stories of this book, and it inspired both of us to make our hopeful phrase, "imagine the possibilities." We would say it to each other when one of us was worried about the future. I'm not exactly sure how we got to where we are today, with MS in remission and two amazing children, but I do think imagining the possibilities had something to do with it.
I hope you will imagine the possibilities for your life and loved ones this week!
Sending you love,