Right before I left my house to head to the airport for my trip to Belize, I decided to grab a random book from my bookshelf entitled, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. I assumed it would be an interesting read but had no idea how eye-opening it would be as I started reading it moments after the airplane hit the blue sky.
As a marketing professional working in entertainment, it's a constant grind that's fun but also tiring. So, taking time to think about my contribution to the world and how I can be a stronger leader often gets postponed to tackle an important business priority. Luckily, I took off a week from work to relax and ask myself some important questions:
- How can I be more creative?
- What am I not doing as a leader that could help me?
- How can I make a bigger impact?
Yeah, I know, these questions are loaded but The Art of Possibility helped me begin to answer these and go a bit deeper inside of myself to explore even more possibilities. Here's first quote I underlined in the book:
"The frames our minds create define—and confine—what we perceive to be possible."
These words came after having reads do the well-known 9 dot puzzle challenge in which you have to join all nine dots with four straight lines without taking your pen off the paper. Take a look and try it out! As I tried to do it, I kept wondering how to keep the lines within the small box. I didn't think of the possibility to go outside the box. After the answer was revealed by the authors, they go on to explain how the puzzle may appear unsolvable inside a particular point of view until you look at it within a different framework... and then new possibilities emerge! Isn't this true about life? Many of us try to put everything in a box, including ourselves, because our minds have been conditioned to create constructs that often don't exist. By page 15 in the book, I felt like my questions were already starting to be answered: Don't try to fit inside the box.
Trying to fit within a box is the opposite of truly being creative, and often makes people feel stuck. It's sort of like working a job that makes you go into the office every day, sit at a specific space, eat at 12pm for lunch, do the same daily tasks, and that's it. There's no freedom to ever work from home or maybe eat at a different time. Over time, complacency or a lack of motivation often occurs in some form as well as a feeling of what's the point? What this book made me realize, or wake up inside of me is, we can choose our perspective. Instead of creating limitations in our mind from a place of lacking, let's think of what's possible and use innovative thinking to hit our goals.
What if we all had the power to wake up each day and say: How will I be a contribution today?
There's no right or wrong answer. Truthfully, as I thought of my answer, I came up with a blank. I feel like I contribute all the time both personally and professionally. I think another question is important to help answer the first: what would have to change for me to be completely fulfilled?
I felt a bit stuck until I came across Rule Number 6, which is a chapter in the book that's all about not taking yourself seriously and lightening up. The pressure that I put on myself to be perfect, have all the answers, and avoid mistakes is way too high. There's value in making mistakes, accepting that things will often change, and knowing most things just ain't that serious. I definitely know that to a certain degree and use humor to connect with others but I need to apply this rule as often as possible.
"When we follow Rule Number 6 and lighten up over childish demands and entitlements, we are instantly transported into a remarkable universe."
"Mistakes can be like ice. If we resist them, we may keep on slipping into a posture of defeat. If we include mistakes in our definition of performance, we are likely to glide through them and appreciate the beauty of the longer run."
What would we all do if we weren't afraid? If we lean into our creativity and didn't try to fit into a box. What if we could learn from our mistakes in a way that's supportive and encouraging? This book made me realize how much I hold myself back sometimes, and tend to look at things within a box point-of-view. Just because I consider myself to be a creative and open-minded person doesn't mean I can't fall into this way of thinking. Great news: I'm human and that's okay. I'm recommitting to kicking open the box and always asking, what's possible that I'm not seeing? How can I contribute in ways that are innovative and fulfilling?
I'm so excited to go on this journey of discovery with self-compassion and curiosity. I encourage you to find a book on your bookshelf that's been collecting dust and read it. Chances are you bought it for a reason and it'll be a positive experience. If you've read something recently that made a big impact, please share it in the comments of this post.