In 100 Words: The Art of Seeing Possibilities

Benjamin Zander’s book “The Art of Possibility” starts with this story:

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business.

One sends back a telegram saying, SITUATION HOPELESS. STOP. NO ONE WEARS SHOES.


How often does fear win over our hopes and dreams? We constantly keep thinking about our frustrations but not about the potential that we still have in us. Don’t let your failures so far interfere with what is still possible for you to do.

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Also Read: Other 100 Word Parables

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Bonus: See Benjamin Zander in action in this Pop!Tech 2008 Video where he shows what it means to live in a world of possibilities.

Benjamin Zander on Possibility and Vision

Last day of year 2008 – time really flies.

On this day, I want you spare 20 minutes and watch this video from Pop!Tech where Benjamin Zander  takes a 15 year old cellist’s performance to next level and demonstrates what it means to live in world of possibility. I am indebted to Rajesh Shetty for sharing this. Benjamin Zander is a great teacher and author of a book – “The Art of Possibility”. As a part of his speech, Benjamin Zander tells a great story about looking at possibilities – having an eye for abundance. The story goes like this –

“In year 1900, two shoe salespeople were sent to Africa to open up new markets. Three days after arriving, one salesperson sent a telegram to his boss and said, “Situation hopeless. Stop. No one wears shoes here.”

At the same time the other salesperson sent a telegram to his boss telling “Enormous opportunity. No one has shoes here yet.”

According to Zander, these statements/conversations are not about assessment of circumstances – they are a reflection of attitude. Awesome.

We were told in Management Development Program that everything happens twice – first in human mind and then externally. We see a stone, and a sculptor sees a beautiful statue waiting to be discovered. Sculptor first envisions a statue and creates a print in his brain – and then he begins sculpting. Sculptor sees a possibility. On the same lines, Zander mentions a great quote from Michelangelo which goes like this – “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

What is your vision for 2009? What possibilities are you ready to explore? This is a good time to ruminate and connect.