Notes from Benjamin Zander

I mentioned that I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by this remarkable man on January 20th. He gave up an invitation to the Inauguration (it's true, he even showed it to us, it was fancy), to come and speak in small town Ohio. Clearly he is insane. But gloriously so.

I am going through some papers and found some of the notes I scrawled on a program (why do I always forget my lovely little journal for things like these?).

Out of context many of them lose their oomph or even become incomprehensible but here are a few that stand well even on their own.

When you are comparing yourself to others, remind yourself, "I am a contribution". I loved this. He told the tale of how he spent his whole childhood feeling inadequate when his dad would ask him and his siblings what they did that day. He knew it meant, "what did you achieve this day" and compared to his siblings he felt that he was a chronic underachiever. Until one day he changed the framework of his thinking to, "I am a contribution". To this world, we are each a contribution. What we contribute has nothing to do with what those around us contribute. This has helped me on days when I have not felt as if I achieved as much as I set out to. I think about what I have contributed, and it is always quite a bit more then I first realize.

Should, ought, need, must, blame, threat, control are all words of the downward spiral

How about, what if, what's next are all words of radiating possibility.

le #6: Don't take yourself so d*mn seriously. (There are no other rules)

I will never say anything that could not stand as the last thing I ever say.

Human beings in the presence of possibility have shining eyes.
As a leader you may need to ask yourself, "who am I being that my players eyes are not shining?"

A conductor does not make a sound. His job is to awake possibility in others.

Give people an "A" right from the beginning, and the relationship will be transformed. If the relationship has broken down, you have not given that person an "A". Only when you genuinely give the person an A (believe that they are worth one, care about them as though they are an A), can you tell them the truth (when the truth is a painful one ;)

We don't give children a name as an expectation to live up to, but as a possibility to live into.

You cannot learn anything without mistakes.

If people won't do what you want them to do, apologize for not making them want to.

We should get into the habit of asking ourselves, "what assumptions am I making that I don't know I am making?" Every organization must have a person who is empowered to point out assumptions without fear of retribution.

There is no problem that cannot be solved if you create a new framework to look at it in.

Every interaction is a possibility for leadership.

And one more, about the type of man his father, a Holocaust survivor, was. After he went blind he never complained, but was often heard to remark, "I hear particularly well these days"

Here's a link to his book again and one of his lectures.

I'm reading: Notes from Benjamin ZanderTweet this!


Aaron said...

You forgot to mention that he said when we make a mistake to look at it as an opportunity to grow and say "HOW FASCINATING!" It helps keep the mood light. Trust me. I know.

nyn said...

I love these, especially rule number six. What a great experience.

leah said...

very thought provoking post. i love it!

btw, your new blog design is fabulous - i miss the other one - but this'll do. ;)

Soxy Pirate said...

I hope I'm not the only one who sat through the video, but I'm glad I did! I love these TED Talks. I discovered them about a year ago and started posting them on my blog. I discovered that nobody really watched them with the same enthusiasm, so I just put up a little link that got lost in my format switch a few months ago.

Here are a couple of my favorite videos, if you dare!

paparazzimom said...

SUCH beautiful thoughts! I'm glad you guys had the chance to hear him speak. And I'm glad you've shared. Thanks! :)