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The Possibility Paradigm

by Pamela Gerloff, Ed.D.

Why Possibility Matters

The Possibility Paradigm releases a hidden power within us.

At a conference I once attended, we did a small-group exercise. Each of us was given a long list of words titled "Values." We were to choose ten that we considered primary in our lives. They were words like honesty, compassion, generosity, fairness, that sort of thing-words that reasonable people accept as reasonable values to live by. On that list, however, was the word Possibility. It startled me to see it there. "How can Possibility be a value?" I thought. Up until that watershed moment, I had always thought of possibility as just something that existed; an idea, an option, a creative expression, a potential not yet brought into form. A good thing in life, for sure. A natural part of my own proclivities, yes. But not a value to live by.

In that moment, however, everything changed. In that moment my very identity began to rearrange itself-for on that day I wrote Possibility on my list of personal values. On that day, I chose Possibility as a primary commitment in my life.

It has taken me some time to understand what it can mean to value Possibility--for myself, for others, and the world--but I have come to value it so much that I am sometimes known as "Possibility Pamela"; one who perceives Possibility, plays in Possibility, personifies Possibility, thereby igniting Possibility as a doorway to greater potential. Indeed, that is why I value it. Without possibility there is no potential. In this time of global crisis and massive upheaval--economies on the brink, war in many lands, natural disasters, nuclear calamities--if we do not begin to fully realize our potential, as individuals and as a species, we may lose our opportunity. To leap into our potential, we need to value Possibility. Only in valuing Possibility can we unleash its full creative power.

So this new blog, The Possibility Paradigm, is about possibility--and some of its natural corollaries: purpose and potential, principle and passion, perception of perfection, and play. Fundamentally, it is about transformation with graceful, effortless ease. The Possibility Paradigm is a perceptual and conceptual framework that releases a hidden power within us: the power to play in possibility and choose the options and potentials we prefer.

The Possibility I speak of is more than mental gymnastics. It arises from a deep connection--a connection to an intelligence within and around us, a field of possible potential, a perceptual awareness that unlimits us. As we live in this place of Possibility, we began to perceive anew. We think differently, speak differently, act differently. For starters, we begin to ask What if...?

What if schools evoked possibility-in their teachers, students, parents, community? What would learning look like then? What if families could find a possibility that simplifies their lives, relieves tension, frees time, brings harmony to home? What if religious institutions became more grounded in Possibility, showing people how to pray with an inner knowing that anything really is possible? What manner of miracles might ensue? What if leaders of nations knew how to access the Possible, and found inherent in what's possible a practical option for peace? What if we--as individuals, as groups, as a species--were to choose Possibility as a fundamental value? How would that change our future? How would that change our Now?

What if each of us today were to ask ourselves: What if I were to value Possibility, really value it? When I ask myself that question, I immediately notice some areas in my life where I have not been valuing possibility. A particular unsolved problem comes to mind. I realize I've been viewing my options as limited. So I pause to regain a sense of Possibility. I get quiet, shift my focus, and ask, "What if there are many possible solutions to this problem?" As I wait in the silence, my perception expands, a new sense of possibility arises. A short while later, a practical solution presents itself, as naturally and gently as a kitten softly purring in my ear.

What happens when you ask yourself that question? Why not try it for today and see?

Transformational change for individuals and the world

Pamela Gerloff, Ed.D.

Dr. Pamela Gerloff, a.k.a. “Possibility Pamela,” is a writer, visionary educator, and specialist in transformational change. She holds a doctorate in Human Development from Harvard University, where, in graduate school, she began to ask two fundamental questions: Why don’t schools change? and When they do, why don’t the changes last? Her quest for answers uncovered ideas, principles, and tools relevant to nearly every domain of life. She founded Compelling Vision, her own consulting practice, to share her discoveries. Dr. Gerloff is co-author, with Robert Fuller, of Dignity for All: How to Create a World without Rankism and on-site educational consultant to Civic Bangladesh, located in Dhaka. Formerly Executive Editor of More Than Money magazine, Pamela currently co-manages, with her family, their ancestral farm in northern Illinois. There, she enjoys her bovine friends, including “The Tinies,” sweet little brown twin calves.