According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, a paradigm is "a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly: a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind."
So much for dictionary definitions. Can it be put simpler?
In a sense, we each have our own set of paradigms or glasses through which we view the world. These personal viewpoints of the "way things are" may cloud our ability to perceive or consider new or different ideas, especially if they seem to be in conflict with our perception of what is reality or "truth."
In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution in which he developed the concept of a "paradigm shift". Kuhn argues that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions", and in those revolutions "one conceptual world view is replaced by another".
In recent years, the terms "paradigm" and "paradigm shift" have spilled over into general usage and have been applied to areas outside the strictly "scientific" arena, although Kuhn himself considered the concept of paradigm as appropriate only for the natural sciences.
A "paradigm shift" may be thought of as a change from one way of thinking to another. It does not just happen, but rather it is usually driven by agents of change.
It can be described as a popular, or perhaps, not so popular shift or transformation of the way we humans perceive events, people, environment, as well as life itself. It can happen on an individual, national or international scale, and can have a dramatic effect (positive or negative) on the way we live our lives in the present and in the future.
This section contains quotes and examples on the subject of paradigms with particular emphasis on how one can expand one's perceptions to think "outside the box."
If all of this seems somewhat confusing, reading the following quotes may prove to be enlightening.
- Grant M. Bright, Editor
The Wright brothers first flight was not reported in a single newspaper because every rookie reporter knew what could and couldn't be done.
- Edward R. Murrow
If you don't get out of the box you were raised in, you won't understand how much bigger the world is.
- Angelina Jolie
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
- Rene Descartes
If you never climb a hill, you will never know it is different from a plain.
- Texas Bix Bender
Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.
- Jules Renard
Anyone who can handle a needle convincingly can make us see a thread which is not there.
- EH Gombrich
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
- Bertrand Russell
Before I built a wall, I'd ask to know what I was walling in or out.
The traveler sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he has come to see.
With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another.
- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.
- Aldous Huxley
First umpire: "There are balls and there are strikes, and we call them as they are."
Second umpire: "There are balls and there are strikes, but we call them as we see them."
Third umpire: "There are balls and there are strikes, but they ain't nothing until we call them!"
Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people's characters.
- Margaret Halsey
All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.
- Leonardo da Vinci
New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.
- John Locke
The body travels more easily than the mind, and until we have limbered up our imagination we continue to think as though we had stayed home. We have not really budged a step until we take residence in someone else's point of view.
- John Erskine The Complete Life, Chapter 8, Foreigners
When a large American steel company began closing plants in the early 1980's, it offered to train the displaced steelworkers for new jobs. But the training never "took"; the workers drifted into unemployment and odd jobs instead. Psychologists came in to find out why, and found the steelworkers suffering from acute identity crisis. "How could I do anything else?" asked the workers.
- Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline
I wear my wife's eyeglasses because she wants me to see things her way.
- Jayson Feinburg
We do not really see ourselves. All mirrors are in fact quite useless except the living, human mirrors who reflect us: They do not lie.
- Francois Mauriac
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
- Albert Einstein
What you see depends on what you thought before you looked.
- Eugene Taurman
Every person is really three people:
The person they think they are.
The person others think they are.
The person they really are.
We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.
- Max DePree, Leadership is an Art
You see but you do not observe.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Bird to fish: "How's the water?" Fish to bird: "What water?"
We don't know who discovered water, but we are certain it wasn't a fish.
- John Culkin
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Two men were walking down a busy city street. "Listen," exclaimed one. "What a lovely sound of a cricket." The other looked at him in puzzlement. "How can you hear a cricket amid this din?" he asked. The first man replied, "Iím a zoologist." He took a coin from his pocket and dropped it on the crowed sidewalk. Immediately, the people around stopped and began to look down. "We hear what we listen for," he explained.
What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
- John Lubbock
Just because something has always been done in a certain way is never a sufficient reason for continuing to do it that way.
- Clarence Birdseye
What a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him to see.
- Thomas S. Kuhn
The U.S. Standard Railroad Gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that size used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the U.S. railroads were designed and built during the Industrial Revolution by English expatriate engineers to accommodate English-built locomotives.
Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that was the gauge they used.
Why did they use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tooling that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
OK, why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old long distance roads in Europe and England. This was due to the old wheel ruts worn into the road.
So, who built these old rutted roads?
The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The thoroughfares have been used ever since.
And the ruts?
The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying wagons, were first made by the Roman war chariots. These chariots were designed to be pulled by two horses hitched side-by-side. In order to roll smoothly, the chariot wheels had to be spaced far enough apart to avoid the hoofmarks left by the horses, yet not protrude past the flanks of the horses to prevent entanglement with opposing traffic or roadside vegetation. Since the chariots were made for, or by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
Thus, we have the answer to the original question.
The U.S. Standard Railroad Gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot. Two thousand years later, and a continent away, the track layout of the entire U.S. railway network is based upon the fact that Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the rear-ends of two war-horses.
Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So, the next time you are presented with a specification and wonder if some horse's ass is responsible for it, you may be exactly right.
The older you get, the more you like to tell it like it use to be.
We see the world as WE ARE not as IT really IS.
Almost every significant breakTHROUGH is a breakWITH.
A large ocean liner was headed across the Atlantic from Portsmouth to New York. As it neared its destination at night, a lookout on the wing of the bridge reported "Light, bearing on the starboard bow." "Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out. The lookout replied, "Steady, captain," which meant that that they were on a collision course. The captain then called to the signalman, "Signal that ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees." Back came a signal, "Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees." The captain said, "Send, I'm a captain, change course 20 degrees." "I'm a seaman, second class," came the reply. "You had better change course 20 degrees." By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send, This is the mighty ocean liner, HMS Franconia. Change course 20 degrees." Back came the flashing light, "This is a lighthouse, suggest you change course 20 degrees." Needless to say, the ocean liner changed course!
The old system has two advantages over the new one: it is established and it is understood.
Point-of-view: Traveling thru New Emgland, a motorist stopped for gas in a tiny village. "What's this place called?" he asked the station attendant. "All depends," the native drawled. "Do you mean by them that has to live in this dad-blamed, moth-eaten, dust-covered, one-hoss dump, or by them that's merely enjoying its quaint and picturesque rustic charms for a short spell?"
The real problem is that PERCEPTION is all there is. There is no reality as such. There is only perceived reality, the way each of us chooses to perceive a communication, the value of a service, the value of a particular product feature, the quality of a product. The REAL is what we PERCEIVE.
- Tom Peters & Nancy Austin
You see best what you think you are SUPPOSED to see.
- Joel Barker
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few.
We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
- Anais Nin
To illustrate how easy it is for a group of people to get "locked in" to a certain way of looking at things, try this experiment with a group: (Good exercise to illustrate Group Think)
1. Pick a number between 1 and 10.
2. Multiply it by 9.
3. If your number is two digits, add them together to make one number.
4. Subtract 5.
5. If your number is 1, remember the letter "A", if 2, remember "B", 3 = C, 4 = D, etc.
6. Think of a country that starts with that letter.
7. Think of the second letter of that country and then think of a mammal whose name starts with that letter. Now think of the color of that mammal.
Chances are pretty good most of the group picked a gray elephant from Denmark!
It's always easy to see both sides of an issue we are not particularly concerned about.
It's not reality that's important, but how you perceive things.
The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective.
- Al Neuharth
One person's constant is another person's variable.
- Susan Gerhart
You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
- Mark Twain
Houdini was imprisoned in a specially designed new prison cell, and was challenged to escape. Using a small metal strip he had concealed in his clothing, he struggled for 2 hours to open the lock. He started to get weary and frustrated, finally slumping against door, which swung open! It had never been locked! We mentally create our own locks and limits.
Titles tend to lead to mentally imposed restrictions. "I'm a ________, and therefore I don't know anything about _________ . (or "therefore, that's not my job.)
To see ourselves as others see us, It would from many a blunder free us.
- Robert Burns
I like my tailor. He takes my measurements anew each time he sees me, whereas others expect me to fit old measurements.
- G.B. Shaw
Mental Scotomas: "holes" in your consciousness that prevent you from "seeing" different viewpoints and perceptions. If you're not looking for something you probably won't find it!!
The fish only knows that it lives in the water, after it is already on the river bank. Without our awareness of another world out there, it would never occur to us to change.
Live your live with conscious choice rather than through unconscious programming. The observing consciousness is the vantage point from which we see our life from an objective point of view. Anytime you are experiencing a situation that doesn't seem to be working for you, exercise the observing consciousness:
Exercising the Observing Consciousness:
1. Observe your emotions; what am I feeling?
2. Observe your thoughts; what are the thoughts, judgments, attitudes or perspectives I have that are causing these emotions?
3. Look at your only options:
- change the situation
- change your thinking about the situation
- leave the situation
- stay stuck
Too see your drama clearly is to be liberated from it.
- Ken Keyes, Jr.
The President Paradigm:
Name the five American Presidents NOT buried in the United States.
What is your paradigm? What are you visualizing? Re-examine the problem, break it down.
1. We are looking for five American Presidents
2. These five are not buried in the United States - which means:
a) They are buried in foreign countries
b) They are living!
The five Presidents are: Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama
Your attitude and behavior are a function of your paradigm. For example: It's Sunday morning, you are enjoying a quiet ride in the subway - no crowds. A man with several children gets on. The children act rowdy, shouting, disturbing others. You become irritated and finally say "Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people, I wonder if you couldn't control them a little more." The reply comes slowly: "I guess I should...We just came from the hospital...Their mother just died about an hour ago and I guess...I don't know what to think...I guess they don't know how to handle it either..." You have just experienced a paradigm shift that puts the situation in new light.
We all see things differently. Similar to putting someone else's glasses on. See things distorted, but they don't see things that way.
My reality check just bounced.
Man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimension.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes
Let me dispel a few rumors before they fester into facts.
- Robin Williams, from "Dead Poets Society"
A farmer once went to the county fair with a pumpkin that was the exact size and shape of a two-gallon jug. His pumpkin won the blue ribbon. When someone asked him how he grew a pumpkin to look like that, he said, "It was easy. As soon as it started to grow, I stuck it inside a two gallon jug - and here it is!" In the same way your life situation, your view of the world around you is shaped by the container you hold it in. Such beliefs can put a lid on potential. You might be a golfer who averages 90 for 18 holes. One day you're on your way to a 70 at the 16th hole. You say to yourself, "This isn't like me!" Hearing that, your subconscious makes sure you put the next ball into the woods or the sand. At the end of 18, you have your usual 90 average. "That's more like me" you say to yourself. Your subconscious will work hard to match whatever you believe on the inside with what you see on the outside.
POINT OF VIEW: Two guys were sitting around the campfire when one of them spotted a grizzly bear approaching. He immediately got up and went in his tent. The other guy followed him in and notice that he was putting on his running shoes. "What are you doing that for," he asked. "You know you can't outrun a grizzly!" "That's true," the first guy replied, "but in this case, all I have to do is outrun you!"
Russian Olympian Vasily Alexeev was trying to break a weight-lifting record of 500 pounds. He had lifted 499 but couldn't, for the life of him, lift 500. Finally, his trainers put 501.5 pounds on his bar and rigged it so it looked like 499 pounds. He lifted it easily. Once he had created this new reality, other weight lifters went on to break his record. Why? Because they now knew it was possible to lift 500 pounds. The limits we set for ourselves exist in our minds. Sometimes, if we let our hearts do the talking and believe in our ability to overcome past perceptions, we can create another reality.
Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.
- Nobel Laureate, Albert Szent-Gyorgys
Habits are like a cable - we weave a strand of it every day and soon it becomes very difficult to break.
Habits are like gravity - they pull on us. Just like a rocket, once it escapes earth's pull, it floats free, but it requires a lot of initial energy to break free. So we can break free of bad habits if we put enough energy into it.
Ancient maps and the symbols on them can be used to demonstrate the "paradigm" of the times - the thinking of the people and civilizations that drew the maps.
The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
- Albert Einstein
|FOUR LEADERSHIP PARADIGMS|
|PARADIGM||MANAGEMENT STYLE||MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES|
|Spirit||Management by Principles||Meaning|
|End of Quotes on "Paradigms & Perceptions"|