As I write this, my daughter is studying for final exams at college and my sons are starting to prepare for theirs in high school. I remember vividly the weight those exams can carry, especially if they make up 50% of your semester grade or if you teeter on the border between two grades. It can make my Type A+ recovery slip back a few notches just thinking about it!
So my heart skipped a beat back in the early 2000s when I first read The Art of Possibility, a transformational book by therapist and coach Rosamund Stone Zander and Boston Philharmonic conductor Ben Zander. I re-read it a few years ago when we selected it as an ASPIRE Success Club pick, and something that stood out both times involves the idea of an automatic ‘A’.
The Automatic ‘A’
At the start of the semester, Ben announced to his Conservatory students that everyone would get an A in the course – with one important requirement:
“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.” (The Art of Possibility, p. 27)
Students are encouraged to place themselves firmly in the future, looking back, as they write their letters.
I have our ASPIRE members do something similar each year and the feedback is so moving. Many completely forget about their letters; upon receiving them in the mail 11 months later, they are astounded at their own foresight and the power of an intentional mindset.
Give It A Try!
As you prepare for a new year, close your eyes and imagine that it is December 31, 2019. You are looking back over a successful and purposeful year where things worked out smoothly and beautifully for you. What are you celebrating? How do you feel? What contributed to your outstanding 2019 experience?
Capture it all on paper. Then use that as visionary support as you create your goals and action plans for 2019.
No Pressure – Only Possibility
One of the lines I have dog-eared, highlighted, starred, tabbed, and underlined in the book is this: “This A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into.”
Breathe that in, my friends. No expectation, no judgment, no pressure. Just expansive possibility.
Let’s make 2019 the most positive and purposeful year yet! Who’s with me?