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May 13, 2024

"When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life." --Eckhart Tolle

Becoming a Possibilist

“I don’t have a crystal ball to know what’s going to happen in the future, but I know that in the present moment, there are possibilities for us as human beings to transform our conflicts.” Author and negotiation expert William Ury’s opens his discussion on Sounds True’s Insights at the Edge podcast with this explanation of what it means to be a possibilist. The respective endgames of climate change, political unrest, state conflicts and other headline-grabbing events are not as predetermined as we sometimes believe. And while world events are big, the solutions as a possibilist, start small, with the relationships and conversations available every day. “Be curious, and out of that curiosity, out of those open-ended conversations, out of that listening, people naturally start to feel heard. They start to feel respected, they start to feel seen, and then new possibilities emerge from that conversation.” It can be easy to discard this wisdom as too hard, or too idealistic; however, Ury shares story after story about some of the most embedded, intransigent conflicts where setting aside defense mechanisms, weapons, and retaliation and picking up possibility, has led to surprising, unexpected outcomes.


Pay attention to immediate reactions today. Instead of moving from reaction directly to action, take a breath... count to five... then, thank the reaction for presenting the opportunity for curiosity. Ask an open, honest question you could not possibly know the answer to in place of your normal reaction. More ...