Why Radiating Possibility is a Powerful Message for Gifted Youth

By Jen Mounday

Photo from Knowledge@Wharton http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2537Radiating Possibility is an inspirational video highlighting the insight of Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. In partnership with his wife, Rosamund Zander – an executive coach and family systems therapist – he created five key steps to radiating possibility. The short film gives viewers the opportunity to witness Ben in action as he conducts his orchestra and individually tutor musicians in a very unique way. He draws his students out of the competitive mindset of performance and, instead, pushes them to experience life in their talent and a real connection to their skill. His dynamic instruction, combined with Roz’s therapeutic intuition, opens up a vibrant world of possibility that lies beyond fears, habits and assumptions. Viewers discover that every human being brought into the world of radiating possibility will be encouraged to keep their song going.

For the gifted child, Radiating Possibilty is the perfect conduit for self-discovery in a world often times wrought with competition and pressure. At Yunasa, we presented Radiating Possibility on the first night of camp and used it as a touchstone each day for accelerating the pace of interaction among peers. The goal was to give campers the courage to open their hearts and enter the dance, to drop the assumption that people aren’t interested in what they have to say.

The Zanders offer the following five steps to radiating possibility, each of which can be applied to help gifted children embrace themselves and their potential:

  1. Sit in the front row of your life. Participate!
    After a rousing clip of Ben conducting his orchestra with so much gusto that the musicians around him grin from ear to ear, he exclaims, “Throw yourself into life like a pebble in a pond and notice the ripples!” Gifted children may feel pressure from themselves or their peers to minimize their focus in a particular field because it is “too much” or “too intense.” They often receive verbal and nonverbal cues from the community around them suggesting they hold back or “rein in” their passion, enthusiasm or contributions in order to fit in with the group. But when gifted students are inspired to participate, with whatever skill sets they bring to the table, they are given an outlet and a means of giving back to their community, their peers and their families.
  2. When you make a mistake, say: “How fascinating!”
    Many gifted children struggle with perfectionism. Gifted children are well above average in certain areas, but they are still bound to make mistakes as part of being human. When gifted children practice looking in the face of failure; raising their hands, their voices and their eyebrows and shout, “How fascinating!”, they learn not to waste time dwelling on mistakes and to use mistakes as learning opportunities.
  3. Quiet the “voice in your head.”
    When Ben is instructing a student, he says he is “dealing with the student and the person standing next to the student” who whispers statements of doubt and fear in the student’s ear. We can’t necessarily get rid of the voice in the head, but we can choose how we respond to it. Ben suggests we say, “Thank you for sharing, but I’m busy,” to that negative voice. When gifted children focus themselves on being a contribution, they are able to achieve great things. Giving credit to the voice in the head only conceals their special talents. The gifted community can benefit greatly from self-talk as a means to overcoming these negative voices so they are free to perform, showcase and contribute in a way that holds nothing back!
  4. Live in radiating possibility. Become part of the song!
    The realm of possibility is all about dreams. In the dream world there are no barriers. The gifted mind is naturally full of possibilities and creative dreams. Allowing oneself to radiate in those possibilities takes practice. Practice begins with acting as if no barriers exist.
  5. Invent a new game: “I am a contribution.”
    Ask yourself, “How will I contribute today?” In the classroom, in group settings, in peer relationships, gifted children should see what they have to offer as a contribution, not just evidence of individual talent. Whether it’s playing an instrument, competing for a title or even earning grades, each act of will viewed as a contribution builds on the feeling of being fully alive. When gifted children think of themselves as contributing to something bigger than them, rather than measured as an individual success or failure, they strengthen their emotional and social muscles and discover a renewed sense of energy.

Gifted people radiating possibility become powerful forces in our society for good. Let us be the parents, teachers, family and organizations that help silence the voice in the head and become part of the song!

Have you or your kids tried any of these steps? How did they work out? Please share with us in the comment section below!

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