Give yourself an “A”
Happy New Year! I started reading a book called, “The Art of Possibility”, by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander. One of their chapters is called “Giving an A”. As a professor and conductor of music, Benjamin Zander noticed how stressed out and contracted his students would get when worrying about grades. They were so concerned about achieving good grades that their creativity was stifled – they were not willing to take risks in their musical playing.
So the next semester, he announces to all his students that are going to receive an A. Their only assignment is to write a journal response that beings with, “Dr Mr. Zander, I got my A because…”. Their task is to envision their life at the end of the year, not only in regards to what they will have accomplished, but more importantly, the kind of person they have become.
What he noticed is that his students were much more inspired, creative, and willing to take risks. Each student opened their own doors into a realm of possibility that spoke true to them. The fear of making mistakes decreased, and the realm of possibility increased. Here’s one of my favourite excerpts from an international student:
“In Taiwan, I was number 68 of 70 students. I come to Boston and Mr. Zanders says I am an A. Very confusing. I walk about, 3 weeks, very confused. I am number 68 but Mr. Zander says I am an A student. I am number 68 but Mr. Zander says I am an A. One day, I discover that I am much happier A than number 68. So I decide, I am an A.”
Benjamin explains that, “This student, in a brilliant flash, had hit upon, “the secret of life”. He realized that all the labels he had been taking so seriously are human inventions – it’s all a game. The number 68 is invented and the A is invented, so we might as well choose to invent something that brightens our life and the lives of people around us.
How do you choose to invent your life this year? May you all live in your A!