The Art of Possibility Ch. 9-12

Wesley Hancock’s Post:

Wk 4: Leadership: Leadership Role Model

I feel like my biggest role model for leadership, and this will probably sound cliched, has always been my dad. He’s definitely had a larger influence on who I am than any other person in my life. I’m going to focus on how he actually taught me to lead, and not just how he has been a role model in general.

One of the qualities of a great leader is that they allow their followers, or employees, or subjects, or what have you, to make their own choices and to learn the way on their own. This is an area in which my dad was always great. He is a great teacher, and leader, in that he allowed me to make decisions for myself, and offered guidance to me when I needed it. There was never a sense of pressure to do anything a certain way. Obvious exceptions aside, I was allowed to take on tasks in my own way, and in my own time. The rewards, and the consequences, were mine to reap.

I think that’s one of the most important lessons that you can learn from someone in a mentor or leadership role. I try to pass this on to my students as well. I never force my students to do anything, it’s always their decision how much time they want to put in, or what they want to do. I offer my advice, and I will tell them whether their current output will end in success, but I try not to say “You HAVE to do this.”

I am not really familiar with too many corporations or leadership styles within those companies, but I think that the style of the game industry and the film industry is pretty appealing to me. Each individual worker is an autonomous system in a lot of cases. They have control over their own little world. You produce something that is going to be a part of a much bigger whole, but it is the INDIVIDUAL effort that really adds up. A good manager in the art director and creative director roles will recognize this, and allow the artist to be a major contributor to the effort. By shifting the onus of responsibility from the manager to the employee, or to the artist, or to the student, you empower that individual. I do this with my students, and it works very well. At the end of the day, each individual is responsible for his or her own success. The blame falls squarley on their shoulders, but then so does the accomplishment.

Some may say that the style may not work well, to just leave it to the employees to succeed. I would say though that the best jobs I have ever had always took leadership roles as more of a mentor position. Use your position to guide and individual, to grow them, and they will lead themselves. Be overbearing, or controlling, and that person will never achieve their greatest potential.

 My Comments:
I to had trouble thinking of a leader who I admire, I think you really need to know someone to be able to admire them. I found it interesting how our teaching methods are very similar. My students are in there early teens and I am amazed at how some love the freedom I give them in their choices while other want to be spoon feed the answers. It is difficult to figure out which students have had limited cultural learning experiences to draw from when doing art projects and which do not want to think.

The Art of Possibility Ch. 9-12

Here is the post by Trudi Perkins:

Lighting A Spark

The story that Zander tells about the little boy named Anthony was very touching. It must have been an amazing feeling for him when he recognized the total engagement that the young boy had with the music. This passage was important for me as an educator because it reminded me that sometimes what seems like an insurmountable obstacle can actually turn out to be quite a blessing in disguise.  I think about the students that I teach and the fact that many of them come from stressful situations just as the children that Zander described.  Each year, it seems that I have had the pleasure of introducing a variety of classic novels to students, and each year, I hear the groans at the onset of reading, only to have the class get totally involved with the characters and their stories. It is fascinating to watch these young students become so involved in the events in the lives of these fictional characters, in books that were often published over a hundred years ago.

When I read things such as this, and take a moment to put my daily work into proper perspective,  I am reminded of why I teach.

My Comments:

I think it is great how students have to read some of the classics, I remember receiving my first novel, Tom Sawyer and giving my uncle a puzzled look that Christmas morning. I agree with your sentiments on how we can reach students who wouldn’t ever experience certain material if not for their teachers or a caring adult.

Week # 4

Weekly Reading Ch. 9-12

Chapter 11 Creating Framework for Possibility

This chapter had the most affect on my current situation in life. I enjoyed the story about the students who visited Brazil and were a little rowdy in their behavior and how the author handled the situation. The Sao Paolo story was a great example of how to get the most out of our youth through transfer of responsibility to themselves. The talk given by the author resulted in a greater understanding of what it was to be an ambassador of music and leaders. I feel that as a teacher and a parent you are constantly trying to figure out how best to handle teenager’s behavior so they can reflect on their actions and grow.

We are not a machine.

We are not a machine.

Beauty is everywhere.

Beauty is everywhere.












Although I am not a religious individual I do believe that we all need guidance at varying times and the quote by Marianne Williamson addressed by Nelson Mandela is a great message to pass on to everyone.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We as ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented

   and fabulous-

Actually, who are we not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people

Won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.

It is not just in some of us: it is in everyone,

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously

Give other people permission to do the same.


The section on Mission Statement versus Vision statement was also well articulated, I think the distinction between business-oriented goals and life goals are what separate the two. We might need to revisit our school mission statement.

The book The Art of Possibility by Zander and Zander is a book that gave me much to think about when it comes to how I am living my life and how I affect those around me. I would recommend the book to those individuals who need a timeout to evaluate their current situations.

Uncategorized, Week #3

Leadership Links Week #3

Digital Portfolio Presentation

The presentation I will be attempting to deliver will hopefully be at one of the following conventions, the NAEA in San Diego, Ca. in March or the CUE in Palm Springs, Ca.. I prefer to do my presentation in Palm Springs because they have  a category called CUE Tips where you get twenty minutes to present.

My presentation is about the journey I had with my students in implementing the focus of my AR Project, preparing students for a career in the visual arts through the development of a digital portfolio they could place online to receive comments, suggestions, and praise but also to have available at a moments notice when applying for employment or entrance to a college, art school, or university. The presentation begins with a bio of myself and then turns to my target audience’s presumptions about using digital media to present to the class. I then explain how student’s actually created their portfolios using various software such as iPhoto, Flickr, and Picassa. Throughout the presentation I am focusing on images that will convey students attitudes, artistic abilities, and portfolio development. I also discuss some of the technical issues I encountered and how myself and the students overcame those obstacles to create some impressive portfolios.

The following links will be on my previous leadership posts and the site where my Leadership document is located.

Week #1 https://mark181.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/week-1/

Week #2 https://mark181.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/where-do-i-want-to-share-my-project/

Leadership Document https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_uAr1HGcYyjQBY9jjgzkeg3qPF68AjRhkZkYGNE0Gtk/edit?usp=sharing


Uncategorized, Week #3

Week #3 Blog Post Comments

Wesley Hancock’s Post


I found the lessons taught in Chapter 6 were extraordinary. The parallels between conducting an Orchestra and running a business, or being in any other form of a leadership role, were so very well illustrated. It’s hard to fathom what a leader is tasked with unless you’ve been in that position. The idea of the white papers is fantastic, and I am glad to say that our management is always asking of us what it is that they can do better to help facilitate us, and allow us to “play our best” when we come to work every day. Fantastic lessons in this chapter.

I love Rule Number 6! I will be using this one as a reminder to myself in those times where I find that I am “taking myself too * damned seriously.” :-D

“A child is an exquisite attention getting device…” LOVE IT! This is the way I often feel about complainers and those people in life that are just generally unhappy. These folks need a serious infusion of Rule 6 into their lives.

When one person peels away layers of opinion, entitlement, pride, and inflated self-description, others instantly feel the connection. This really struck me as something that I should be paying attention to. If I can forget myself for a moment, that is the moment when I am able to be truly seen by others.

My Comments:

I am also enjoying the readings for this week, I rarely take myself too seriously but know when I need to teach and have the students attention. I never really understood what the role of a conductor was but after reading “The Art of Possibility” it sounds like some of them would be great motivators while others would tear your confidence apart.

Uncategorized, Week #3

Week # 3 Blog Post Comments

Valerie Waitley’s Post:

Week 3 Reading Blog- The Art of Possibility: Chapter 5-8



Chapter 5: Leading from any chair– “a leader who feels he is superior is likely to suppress the voices of the very people on whom he must rely to deliver his vision alive and kicking.” (pg. 67)

I appreciated a few lines in this chapter, specifically the discussion on leadership.  Ben states, “I began to shift my attention to how effective I was at enabling the musicians to play each phrase as beautifully as they were capable.” (pg. 69)  I think Ben supports true “servant leadership” by recognizing a leader’s “true power derives from his ability to make other people powerful.” (pg. 69.)  I think in too many leadership studies now the concept of servant leadership has been transformed to simply serving and the leadership action is dropped.  I know many wonderful volunteers who serve in absolutely necessary capacities but they are not leaders because they serve.  So, I like Ben’s statement about “true power” because I think that defines servant leadership.  I also like the mention of the value of the leader who can and will admit mistakes.  I am not sure that I agree with Ben as to why a leader should admit mistakes…I think it is more about credibility than from the standpoint of empowering others.  But, I can see how it is empowering for your team to be willing to take risks if the standard is set that mistakes are “fascinating.”

I also think that the “white sheet” idea is interesting.  It made me consider what might happen if principles dared to provide “white sheets” for the teachers on their campuses.  I am often frustrated that teachers are rarely, if ever, given an opportunity to offer input on policies, processes, sometimes even curriculum.  I really believe that the crew in the trenches could offer valuable and meaningful insight into making the best policy decisions.

Chapter 6: Rule Number 6 – Don’t take yourself so seriously.

Ok, so I buy in to the idea that relaxing the grip on …whatever could have positive results.  But I have to say that I am not sure I necessarily agree with Frank Sulloway from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.  It is one side, and one bullet point on the one side, of the age-old “nature/nurture” debate.  I really don’t think I agree with the idea that personality is a survival strategy and that “each child in a family stakes out her own territory of attention and importance by developing certain aspects of her character into ‘winning ways’.” (pg. 82)  And I think it is WAY over-analyzing to determine that the personality set as a child to survive becomes the “calculating self” in adulthood and “the prolonged nature of human childhood may contribute to the persistence of these habits long after their usefulness has passed.”  First, the idea paints quite a bleak view of childhood and second that personality and uniqueness are not positive qualities but survival mechanisms calculatingly applied in adulthood.

I understand that the study questions ask us to consider the idea of “live, laugh and love” but I do not see that as the main point in the practice of chapter six.  It seems that Ben and Roz are encouraging a release of the idea of identity and uniqueness.

Chapter 7-  The Way Things Are- 

In concept I understand the value of realistically assessing a situation so that you can identify a way to remedy the situation.  I understand the futility of the duck’s fate in that there, apparently, is no way out so rather than accepting the fate the duck will “spend what he conceives to be his last days in misery, flapping against the walls of his cage.” (pg. 99)

I have to say that I am actually quite bothered by the idea of “presence without resistance” as prescribed on page 101.  I sincerely believe a “presence without resistance” position, as a rule, is dangerous.  In the worst extreme, of the worst example imaginable…isn’t “presence without resistance” the mentality of the Germans in Nazi run Germany?  The atrocities of that time are bad enough but what I find even more terrifying is pondering the question of “why were SO many people willing to be involved and join Hitler’s plans?”

The idea of turning lemons and water into lemonade is not new and there is a subtle suggestion that is the meaning of this chapter.  I, however, believe that the combination of the recommendations to stop being calculating, stop measuring, and stop being unique combined with “presence without resistance” is unnerving.

I did like the discussion on risk:

“risk…invites us to take…a joyous adventure…when we stretch beyond our known capacities while gladly affirming that we may fail.  And if we make a mistake, we can mentally raise our arms and say, “How fascinating!” and reroute our attention to the higher purpose at hand. “ (pg. 103)

But I don’t like the recommendation to not strive for the way things “could be or should be.”  I am not ignorant to their idea that hitting our heads against the cage trying to make something happen that isn’t going to happen, but, as scientifically inaccurate as this quote is, “shoot for the moon because even if you miss you’ll land in the stars,”  I believe that reaching higher than is possible yields better results.  I guess I’m back to “resistance while present.”

Chapter 8- Giving Way to Passion

This was a problematic chapter for me because I did not see the recommendation and support to give way to passion.  Ben stated that people need to understand how they are “related to the waves in the sea…[and] the continuity with the movement of wind through the grass.”  I am an English major and usually align with the Romantics who have an affinity for nature but I can’t see how people are related to the waves in the sea?” so the comparison for me is lost.   How does the “long line” help a person give way to passion?  Perhaps the idea is of “seeing the bigger picture” and the prize/goal?  but then, isn’t that a remnant of the calculating measurement world where we are not supposed to strive to be unique but rather contributing to the whole?  But isn’t giving way to passion unique?  Ben and Roz recommend taking off our eyeglasses that make things clear and lose ourselves in a “helpless blur of color” in order to give way to passion??

I do agree that we should all “dare to let go of the edges of ourselves…participate!” (pg. 121) but I don’t see agreement between this suggestion and the rest of the book.

My Comment to Valerie’s Blog Post:

Valerie, I completely understand you’re frustration with not given the opportunity to be heard at your work site. Principals are also overwhelmed with duties and commitments, one of those should be an open door policy with teachers to hear the voices of those that you depend on to be successful. I would like to see what would happen if a white sheet was placed in front of the students in my classes once a month, I would hope their comments would an increase in critical thinking.


Week # The Art of Possibility

I have to start with Rule Number 6, because so many of my colleagues take their job too seriously. I feel the pressures of being a teacher are overwhelming but I don’t think I could keep teaching if humor wasn’t a large part of my classes. It is difficult to reel students in when having fun and get them to the objective of the moment but how do you not make fun of yourself and show the students the pleasures of life.  My other topic that I enjoyed was the ” have the best_____ever.“, I enjoyed the story of the wife who was angry with her ex-husband, it was a great example of  how we percieve our situations and how we can change them to help us grow and become a better person. The Calculating Self  topic was an eye opener for me, it reminded me of students I have had and how I needed to meet their needs. I think the topic is an excellent example of how the dynamics of each class  has it’s own “flavor”.

The Way Things Are, was another great chapter that gave me plenty of information to reflect on, I particularly enjoyed the topic of meeting mistakes head on; I am always telling my art students that making mistakes is part of the learning process. Success is achieved by facing your weaknesses and enjoying the journey, I wish I had read this book before school let out because I had a students who could draw extremely well but was hesitant with painting, she would avoid it at all cost. In closing my thoughts for week #3 the explanation of ” the glass being half full” is actually a measure of physical reality as it is explained in the Speaking in Possibility section of chapter 7 , and seeing it “half empty” is closer to a dreamer was very insightful and clever. I am thoroughly enjoying this book!

This child is trying to find her niche in our family "the survival game"

This child is trying to find her niche in our family “the survival game”