June 07, 2003

Paradigm shifts

I was listening to Stephen Covey describe the fundamentals of his "7 Habits of Highly Successful People" and in one section of the talk, he describes how easy it is to change oneself's thinking -- he uses the term paradigm shift to define it. The common misconception, as he continues to explain, is that change is difficult, unbearable even. But he goes on to say that change is NOT difficult, because when one changes, it's often instant, there is no gradual motion toward it -- once it happens, it happens. For example, he anecdotally describes an incident that occurred to him in the subway, on a way to a meeting. As he was sitting in his seat, a man and his children walks in. During a good portion of the train ride, the man's children were rude, unruly, and disruptive. Dr. Covey leans over to the man, after finally reaching his breaking point, and says to him "can't you control your children please?" The man turns to him, with a face and slumped shoulders like the weight of the whole world was on him and says, "Hmmm....well, yeah, I guess I should. We just left the hospital. Their mother just died." In that instant, the mood changed. If this at all happened to any one of us, our mood would have surely changed just as Dr. Covey's did. That change was instant. If we can empower ourselves with that ability, change can be easy. Remember, it's a change in thinking, a change in how we view ourselves and the world -- the paradigm shift.

I was just reading some of my friends' blogs. One friend describes how his daughter was pulling grapes out and stuffing his face with the pulled grapes and kept doing it even when he didn't want anymore. He quipped at his daughter for continuuing this antic, quite annoyed at first. She replies, "oh, I was just sharing." That reply made him feel like a creep. That's a paradigm shift! Change in thinking is not difficult. Sometimes we need that jolt, kick, or epiphany to do it. To do it by on your own, is difficult, but is not impossible.

I've recently had my own "paradigm shift." I've come to this realization sitting here on a quiet rainy Saturday afternoon in the lab. I realize now that sometimes those around you, who you think are there to guide you, protect you or mentor, will not do so. That these individuals, after all is said and done, have the power only to protect their own self interests. It is imperative only upon me, that I protect my interests and can no longer rely on anyone else to help me in this respect. To all you fledgling grad students who duked it out and have read this far, take these words and try to live by it. You cannot make assumptions about anyone else's agenda. You cannot rely on anyone else to help you but yourself. It's a tough lesson to learn. And I've learned the hard way.

Posted by johnvu at June 7, 2003 05:09 PM

It was very nice of you to explain the concept of paradigm shift. Thoug i had understood it quite right in my class, it gave me a better and clear understanding. Well some times we all undergo this isnt it. The paradigm shift is continous and takes place more often in these cases. But to my understanding this is very complex in organisations and its surroundings. Do you have anything more about underatanding how these are viewed in object and subjective aspects with reference to some organisation?

I live in Australia, basically an Indian.

Posted by: Ravi on August 26, 2003 08:23 AM
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