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Paradigms are the way we see life: they are our governing belief systems. They are the driving forces behind every decision we make and are responsible for the persona we all currently portray. There are many different interpretations of the actual meaning of a paradigm. Basically a paradigm is “…a constellation of concepts, values, perceptions and practices held by an individual or shared by a community which forms a particular vision of reality that is the basis of the way an individual or community organises itself.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

Paradigms are an effort to make things explainable and understandable, they drive all behavior, and behavior drives results. Paradigms are mental models or ways of thinking about something,they define what we view as important and how we approach problems and activities. They focus our attention, they concentrate our efforts on what we have deemed to be important, they give us the confidence to solve problems.

Ideally shifting your paradigms will allow you to change from who you think you are, to who you truly are. It is a movement from the accepted paradigm, to a new one, a restructuring of the patterns we rely on for decision-making, and is the only way to achieve a better outcome.The problem with a paradigm shift is that you do not know you are in it, until the new paradigm becomes the ‘conventional wisdom’ (rarely do people like Einstein come along and write a small book and shatter a paradigm, as he did overturning Newtonian physics which had dominated for hundreds of years and, within the scientific community, was the prevailing paradigm of thought). The process the mind goes through during a paradigm shift is, to many, fascinating.

Paradigm shifts can be shaped by the choices we make, by forces beyond our control, or a combination of the two.They are not just ideas that are used by scientists, they are a part of the way our brains work and we all rely upon them.They are one way of creating an instant belief change, and can take place only after a sudden and opposite change in our perceptions, which is normally different from reality. Perhaps the greatest barrier to shifting our paradigms, in some cases, is the reality of paradigm paralysis, the inability or refusal to see beyond the current models of thinking. This is similar to what Psychologists term Confirmation Bias which is usually defined as when as humans we seek out information that confirms our held beliefs and ignore facts that run counter to those beliefs.

Historically, one such shift is the Copernican revolution in which a belief in the world being flat was first challenged by the invention of the telescope, and then with the progression of science, discarded. Also consider the Swiss who failed to patent or market the quartz watch, even though they invented it, because they couldn’t shift paradigms. They couldn’t shift paradigms because they couldn’t see that there would be a market for another kind of watch besides the kind they had already been successfully making and selling for generations.

Essentially, a paradigm shift is a complete change in thinking or belief systems that allow the creation of a new condition previously thought impossible or unacceptable. Paradigm shifting is the movement from one paradigm to another. Paradigms are unquestioned convictions, unquestioned because almost everyone has accepted and bought into that same view of life, and are beliefs about life albeit not necessarily true or accurate.They are the mental models that each of us carries in our minds. When anomalies or inconsistencies arise within a given paradigm and present problems that we are unable to solve, our view of reality must change, as must the way we perceive, think, and value the world. A paradigm shift is the only way to achieve a better outcome.

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