I recently stumbled across a book that profoundly impacted me over 20 years ago. Called the Art of Possibility by Rosemary Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, there it was in the sharing library of a local cafe, nestled underneath a few spy novels.
There it was the bright yellow cover, a banner of optimism contained within the pages.
In the first chapter of book, the authors share a story that encapsulates one of the core themes. Two salesmen explore business opportunities in a remote part of the world to gauge the opportunity there.
The first sends back a note to his manager : the situation is dire because no one wears shoes. The other salesperson writes : there’s a world of potential & no one is wearing shoes, yet!
The core idea is “it’s all invented.” The future and our opportunity within the future is something we create from our imagination.
The second lesson I carry with me is the idea of leading from any chair. In an orchestra, there is the concertmaster, the first chair violinist who leads the string musicians & the role players. Irrespective of their positions, a musician can lead from any chair. Of course, it’s essential to do it correctly, but we can be virtuosos playing any part in a team.
The last and the most memorable is something that permeates Startupland and what thrills me to work in it daily.
It’s the idea of being a contributor. Life is not a zero-sum game, and neither is work. That if all of us contribute just a little bit of what we know and some of our hard work and combine it into a shared potluck, the result is magical and much bigger than any one of us could possibly have imagined.
Tucked in that little nook, the bright yellow book reminded me of the many reasons to be an optimist & to contribute.