In our last post we introduced the concept of paradigms and paradigm shifts (part 1).

One of the big challenges though is that we can be heavily emotionally invested in a particular paradigm. To change one’s paradigm can feel scary or even impossible – there seems to be too much at stake. And yet that is the path to growth.

Looking at the world differently

All great scientific break throughs arise out of a break from previous ways of looking at things. The term ‘paradigm shift’ was introduced by Thomas Kuhn in 1962 in his book ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’. What Kuhn was able to show was that every significant breakthrough in the area of science is first a break with what was previously thought, be that tradition or old ways of thinking or old paradigms.

So for example the shift in the view of the earth being the centre of the universe as espoused by the great Egyptian astronomer of his day, Ptolemy to Copernicus’ discovery that the earth went round the sun and not the other way round.

A paradigm shift is about seeing the same information in a radically different way. We can see that in the picture shown.

What do you see? A young woman or an old woman? Can you see both? If this is the first time you have come across such a picture it may take you a while, but I assure you there are two different images in the one picture!

Paradigm shifts are responsible for completely unforeseen techniques and applications in our world. They are the path to progress and growth. The scary thing is if we are unwilling to change, then it is possible to stay in a particular paradigm for one’s whole life.

Significant paradigms shifts, among others, in my own life include:

  • My understanding of the uniqueness of Christ and the start of the lifting of my black clouds of negativity when I was in my late teens. (you can see a video on that here).
  • Realisation that the biggest barrier to my personal growth and development was not other people and circumstances, but myself.
  • Realisation of how leadership ability is so central to bringing about positive change. It is not enough just to have good ideas or capabilities, you need certain skills to communicate and engage others.
  • The arrival of our first child and looking at the world in a completely different way. I can recall the exact moment more than 16 years ago when my wife told me she was expecting our eldest – the sense of responsibility and realisation that life would never be the same again!

How about you?
What have been some of the significant paradigm shifts in your own life?
Where have you had to change your level of thinking to move forward in your life?
What questions about paradigms do you have?

What do you make of this picture below: