Leaving Behind Problem Solving, Opting, Instead, for Possibility

The possibility conversation frees us to be pulled by a new future. The distinction is between a possibility, which lives into the future, and problem solving, which makes improvements on the past. This distinction takes its value from an understanding that living systems are propelled by the force of the future, and possibility as we use it here (thank you, Werner) is one way of speaking of the future.

Possibility occurs as a declaration, and declaring a possibility wholeheartedly can, in fact, be the transformation. The leadership task is to postpone problem solving and stay focused on possibility until it is spoken with resonance and passion. The good news is that once we have fully declared a possibility, it works on us—we do not have to work on it…

The challenge with possibility is it gets confused with goals, prediction, and optimism. Possibility is not about what we plan to happen, or what we think will happen, or whether things will get better. Goals, prediction, and optimism don’t create anything; they just might make things a little better and cheer us up in the process. Nor is possibility simply a dream. Dreaming leaves us bystanders or observers of our lives. Possibility creates something new. It is a declaration of a future that has the quality of being and aliveness that we choose to live into. It is framed as a declaration of the world that I want to inhabit. It is a statement of who I am that transcends our history, our story, our usual demographics. The power is in the act of declaring.[1]

Take a quick assessment of what meetings you have coming up: will you be with a group of school parents, are you sitting down with your partner or children; is it with some stakeholders in your organization, or perhaps a reaction to a political action. Ask what is possible in the group, what new possibility can be done over the time of the meeting or the course of this group’s work? Problems arise and responses or “solutions” to problems are called for in life, however, consider the shift in engagement and in “departing empire for the wilderness of community”, when we begin with possibility and not problem.  Here are some questions you could use:

What is the crossroads you are faced with at this point in time? What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform the community and inspire you?[2]




[1]Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging (pp. 124-125). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[2] Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging (p. 181). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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