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Possible summary

William Ury

How We Survive (and Thrive) in an Age of Conflict

4.2 (99 ratings)
21 mins
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    The three victories

    In 1906, when Eddie, Ury’s grandfather, was 13 years old, he embarked on a daunting journey from Warsaw – part of the Russian empire at that time – to America. His story encapsulates what Ury terms possibilism. Fleeing from the oppressive grip of the Russian Empire, Eddie’s odyssey wasn’t just a quest for safety but a foundational story of seeing beyond immediate obstacles to the boundless opportunities that lay ahead. His trajectory from a window washer to an innovator for steel giants provides a profound lesson: where others see barriers, possibilists see pathways to potential. This mindset – spotting and seizing opportunities amid significant challenges – is the crux of possibilism.

    Eddie’s story is a blueprint for tackling today’s conflicts with a mindset anchored in possibility. Adopting a possibilist approach can transform your interactions and outcomes, whether you’re navigating personal disputes or engaging in broader social or political discussions. Every challenge conceals an opportunity.

    When challenged by a friend to condense his extensive conflict resolution experience into a single sentence, Ury looked to Eddie’s legacy of overcoming obstacles through innovation and possibility. After some considerable thought, Ury eventually came up with this: “The path to possible is to go to the balcony, build a golden bridge, and engage the third side – all together, all at once.”

    Well, okay, but what exactly does it mean? The sentence not only links back to Eddie’s life lessons, but also lays out a structured approach to conflict resolution. It visualizes a journey consisting of what Ury calls the “three victories” – gaining perspective and self-control (the balcony), creating solutions that address mutual needs (the golden bridge), and mobilizing community support to act on new possibilities (the third side). These principles form a comprehensive strategy for conflict transformation, stressing the importance of personal introspection, bridging divides, and community involvement.

    The three victories are interconnected strategies that, when applied together, can dramatically shift the course of any conflict. They’re a way of being in the world, a way of engaging with others, that can transform the seemingly impossible into the achievable.

    In the next three sections, you’ll learn more about each of the three victories and learn how to approach conflicts as chances to practice possiblism, whether that’s in personal, professional, or even global arenas.

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    What is Possible about?

    Possible (2024) introduces a groundbreaking strategy for confronting the increase in conflicts that threaten aspects of daily life, from personal relationships to global dynamics. It posits that by engaging with conflict constructively, you can unlock the potential for creative problem-solving and strengthen relationships. This approach will equip you with the tools to transform adversarial interactions into cooperative successes, paving the way for progress in every aspect of your life.

    Possible Review

    Possible (2015) delves into the realm of negotiation, providing valuable insights and strategies for achieving win-win outcomes. Here's why this book is a noteworthy read:

    • Offers practical techniques to navigate challenging negotiations effectively, fostering mutual success.
    • Emphasizes the importance of understanding emotions and empathy in resolving conflicts and reaching agreements.
    • By presenting real-world scenarios and solutions, the book remains engaging and applicable, ensuring it is far from mundane.

    Who should read Possible?

    • Conflict resolution mediators and professionals
    • Leaders and managers
    • Individuals navigating personal or workplace conflicts

    About the Author

    William Ury, cofounder of Harvard's Program on Negotiation, has contributed to the field of negotiation as a mediator and advisor in diverse conflicts worldwide, from corporate boardrooms to international wars. His previous works include Getting to Yes, which he coauthored with Roger Fisher, Getting Past No, and The Power of a Positive No.

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    Possible FAQs 

    What is the main message of Possible?

    The main message of Possible is about unlocking the hidden potential within us for positive change.

    How long does it take to read Possible?

    Reading Possible takes a few hours, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Possible a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Possible is a compelling read that inspires us to embrace change and create new possibilities.

    Who is the author of Possible?

    William Ury is the author of Possible.

    What to read after Possible?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Possible, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard
    • The Other Significant Others by Rhaina Cohen
    • Quick Confidence by Selena Rezvani
    • Practical Optimism by Sue Varma
    • The Mindful Body by Ellen J. Langer
    • The End of Race Politics by Coleman Hughes
    • All It Takes Is a Goal by Jon Acuff
    • Third Millennium Thinking by Saul Perlmutter