The word “paradigm” has become familiar to most of us. It refers to the conceptual framework, belief system, and overall perspective through which we see and interpret the world – our ‘lens’, so to speak. Our paradigm determines what we are able to see, how we think, how we respond and behave. Mostly, we don’t question the accuracy of our paradigm because we’re usually unaware of its existence. Trying to reflect on it is like trying to study the color pink while wearing pink-colored glasses. We cannot distance ourselves enough from it to see how much it affects our perception. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are. Our paradigms are usually all we know and only become perceptible to us when we encounter ones that are different from our own. And in this encounter, most of either cling desperately to our own paradigm, arguing it’s accurateness, or allow our paradigms to shift and expand with new awareness.
I believe there is courage in opening ourselves up to other paradigms. And it is courageous to invite others to share their paradigm while we listen curiously, without judgement to that way someone else understands this world. I engage my clients in these conversations and I help to train coaches to navigate these conversations. The metaphors below are drawn from the Noetic Sciences Study Guide from the paradigm shifting movie What the Bleep Do We Know! http://www.whatthebleep.com/guide/ to help individuals to identify or re-articulate their own worldview perspective. Which most resonates with you? And how does that impact on your response to it? And what of the person sitting next to you? Which resonates most with them? And how does that impact on their response to it?
WORLD AS A BATTLEFIELD: To many people the world is a battlefield, where good and evil are pitted against each other and the forces of light battle the forces of darkness”
WORLD AS CLASSROOM: The world is a classroom, a kind of moral gymnasium where you are put through certain tests which prove your mettle and teach you certain lessons, so you can graduate to other arenas and rewards.
WORLD AS A TRAP: Here the struggle is to disentangle ourselves and escape from this messy, material world. Our journey is to extricate ourselves and ascend to a higher plane, where mind is higher than matter and spirit is higher than nature.
WORLD AS A LOVER: The world is beheld as a most intimate and gratifying partner. Desire plays a creative and world-manifesting role here. You feel yourself embraced in the primal erotic play of life.
WORLD AS SELF: The world is an interconnected whole and each individual a node in the living web of life. This perception also arises in the realms of science—in general systems theory and quantum physics.
WORLD AS MACHINE: The world is a collection of inanimate objects that interact in predictable, mechanistic ways on mathematical laws. ______________________________________________________________________________________
Michelle Clarke is an Executive Coach based in Cape Town. She works locally and internationally with Leaders, Executives and Executive Coaches, helping them to navigate the complexity of 21st century leadership. To learn more about her work please visit her website www.motivcoach.com, and be sure also to subscribe to this blog for future updates. If you enjoy Facebook, please join Michelle’s Business Page
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