On The Art of Possibility

possibilityThe Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander is one of my all-time favorite books on personal and professional development. At the beginning of the opening chapter, entitled “It’s All Invented,” the authors relate the following parable:

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to [a remote region] to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying, “Situation hopeless. No one wears shoes.” The other writes back triumphantly, “glorious business opportunity. They have no shoes.”

The point of the chapter, and indeed the whole book, is to give the reader practical tools for adjusting the story she tells herself and others about any given situation. Many books that claim to support such perspective shifts vastly oversimplify the approach and offer cliché encouragements to “think outside the box,” The Art of Possibility avoids both oversimplification and cliché, adeptly guiding the reader to develop modes of thinking that can prompt transformations of thinking.

Another useful tool that can be used in conjunction with Possibility to achieve greater effectiveness and mental clarity is the checklist of rationality habits we shared earlier this fall.


Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.