The A Game

Recently I read a book called The Art of Possibilities: Transforming Personal and Professional Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.   In it the authors shared some of the practices they’ve used to create and live in a world of possibilities.   One of which is “Giving an A”.  

The concept behind “Giving an A”

  In the book, Ben Zander who is a music teacher shares how at the start of each semester he tells his students they will all get an ‘A’ grade at the end of the term.   One requirement.   Each student must submit a letter by next class dated for the end of the semester with the words, “Dear Mr. Zander, I got my ‘A’ because…” explaining their accomplishments, what will have happened, and who they will have become by the end of the term.  

Benefits of “Giving an A”


1. It can transform you and your relationships

  When you’ve been given an ‘A’, your focus is on being your best self instead of trying to mold yourself into the standards of others.   You no longer hold yourself back with the fear of being judged, measuring yourself against others and worrying about what others think. Instead you are free to be yourself.   You are more inclined to explore and experiment out of your comfort zone without the pressure of competing and comparing yourself against other people’s expectations. You start to make decisions based on what you know will make you feel good and grow.   In this regard, as you practice being an ‘A’ and giving an ‘A’ to others, your interaction with others shift from an attitude of scarcity and lack to abundance and possibilities. You start to respect and support others in their endeavors, as you give them space to realize it for themselves. As Ben Zander puts it, “This A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into.”  

2. It makes you feel happier

  Being an ‘A’ feels much better than being anything but an ‘A’. So why not choose to be an A instead of letting others determine what you are worth. You’ll not only feel better but when you are happy, the feeling is contagious and this good vibe can rub off on others.  

3. It makes you embrace mistakes and failures

  As an ‘A’ you are more likely to take more risks as you no longer have to worry about being graded by other people’s standards. So when you fail or make a mistake instead of beating yourself up over the mistakes, Ben Zander suggests to “mentally raise our arms and say, ‘How fascinating!’ and reroute our attention to the higher purpose at hand.   When we remember challenges and failures are often lessons in life that helps us learn how to do things better, it can open us up to the world of possibilities.  

Your challenge

  Give yourself an ‘A’. Create a vision and give yourself the possibility to live into an ‘A’ rather than an expectation to live up to it.   As Ben Zander reminds us, “under a vision, goals are treated as markers thrown out ahead to define the territory. If you miss the mark – ‘How fascinating!’ Neither you nor the vision is compromised.”  

The Exercise

  Write yourself a letter dated for the end of this year. Or better yet! Write the letter to me. How were you an ‘A’ this year? Let me know!   I got my A because ….     (To get your juices flowing...) Tell me the insights you have acquired, the milestones you attained and all that you wish to do and be during the year as if you already accomplished it. Who is the person you have become by the end of this year? Who is the person you passionately want to be in love with by the end of the year? How has your attitude and feelings changed?   Click here to share with me.   Since I’m asking you to do the challenge you can read mine below.
  December 2016   I got my A because I encouraged myself to trust my intuitions more and follow my heart. I courageously faced my fears to be seen regardless of the outcome. I continuously practice speaking up for my needs and showing up authentically in situations.  I’ll admit sometimes I was awkward, sometimes I was totally in flow.     In doing so, it has helped me develop a deeper connection with myself and others on a more emotional level.  Each experience made me braver, as I let a little part of my imperfectly perfect self-be seen.   The more I showed up not caring about what others think and turned my attention on how I can give people the gift of being present, the less I lived in my head, the more I was able to relax and enable others to feel safe to be themselves.   When others are at ease, the more they are able to recognize and receive what I communicate with them that is aligned with their desires.    Connection and connectedness were my themes for the year. I created more RYE content that is practical and from the heart. Shared more of my personal stories. Did more audio interviews. Performed random acts of kindness. Made dates with my yoga mat at least 3 times a week, continued my daily practice of meditation and gratitude all enabled me to connect and experience the power of presence.   When I’m present, time seemed to fly. It was as if the line between my ego and my inner knowing blurred leading me to take inspired action for myself a whole lot more and in inspiring others to do what is aligned with their heart.   As a result, the connectedness enabled me to trust my impulses and take action with ease. It has led me to manage the dramas that surfaced in my life with more ease, letting whatever needed to fall to the weigh side, go.   Last but not least, I got an A because there’s nothing more beautiful than being real, saying (with respect) what you need, what you want, what you feel unapologetically. It not only makes you feel empowered, it can spark the most magnetic and magical connection between you and another human being when you least expect it. It brought me a partner who is rightfully aligned with all of who I am into my life.

It's Your Turn!

Share with me your 'A' year below. Or click here to send me a personal note.   Watch the 14-minute video below as Ben Zander delivers his speech on this exact topic to an auditorium full of teachers.  And grab your own copy of The Art of Possibilities: Transforming Personal and Professional Life.  
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Categories: Blog and Personal Growth.


  1. Chris Grant

    Great stuff! I really want to do this exercise and will begin with this: I got my “A” because I cut through my limiting belief and procrastination habit of telling myself that I am too busy and cannot think clearly enough or write eloquently enough to
    do this exercise as beautifully as you did. Now step 2…

    Thanks for the encouragement and showing me that you are
    “All In”


    • Theresa Ho

      Fantastic Chris! That’s a start. Hope you get more specific in what you will be doing now that you’ve acknowledged you are not ‘too busy’, and can craft out time to do whatever it is your heart desires and deem fulfilling to you.

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