Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander have brought together the arts and business in an incredible book called The Art of Possibility. She is a family therapist and landscape painter, he is the conductor for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and a professor at the New England Conservatory of Music. In spite of the fact that they make me feel like an abject failure with their incredible accomplishments, I read their book. In it they share a concept that has transformed the way I think about other people.
Teaching at the conservatory, Ben and Rosamund decided that they wanted to encourage already high-achievers to produce beautiful music by releasing some of the emotional and psychological strain that can get in the way of great music-making. So, Ben started his classes by saying this:
“Each student in this class will get an A for the course, however, there is one requirement that you must fulfill to earn this grade. Sometime during the next two weeks, you must write me a letter dated next May, which begins with the words, ‘Dear Mr. Zander, I got my A because . . . ,’ and in this letter you are to tell, in as much detail as you can, the story of what will have happened to you by next May that is in line with this extraordinary grade.”
He ensured that every letter was written in the past tense, and he wants them to fall passionately in love with the person they are describing in their letter. Some of the letters are remarkable, and say things like . . .
If you haven’t read The Art of Possibililty, you should. Until then, write your letter and date it one year from the time it is written. It might just change your life.