One of the most powerful conversations within the context of creating extraordinary business results is that of paradigm shifts.
The word "paradigm" is commonly used to mean model, theory, perception or assumption as in frame of reference. In a more general sense paradigm defines the limits of the way we "see" the world, not in terms of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, interpreting. Our paradigm defines the limits and boundaries of what we believe is possible. Are our limits and boundaries really so given and fixed? Is its possible to move beyond or step outside our assumptions, practices, ways of thinking, our life as usual , and create extraordinary business results, results that are bigger than we currently view ourselves and our business to be, that are beyond what we know how to accomplish, beyond what is predictable, what we expect, beyond our current paradigms?
The answer is yes. To accomplish this requires a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift is a change in the way we view the world. It is an "aha" experience, as if a light is suddenly turned on inside our head and something becomes possible that was not possible before.
A common example of a paradigm shift is that years ago everybody knew that the world was flat. It was the only paradigm available at the time and everyone operated consistently with that assumption. When it was discovered that the world is round, whole new possibilities became available. Where in your business are you operating inside of assumptions that limit your business results that you think are real but are really made up?
Another paradigm shift can be illustrated in this paradigm shifting experience as told by Frank Koch in Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute.
Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night feel. The visibility was poor with a patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.
Shortly after dark, the lockout 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 we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.
The captain then called out 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: I'm a battleship. Change course 20 degrees."
Back came the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."
We changed course.
The paradigm shift experienced by the captain puts the situation in a totally different light. Where in out business are we limiting ourselves by our limited perception of what is?
If you out fruit flies in a jar with a lid, and you keep them in the jar a while and then take off the lid, the flies will only jump as high as the now imaginary lid. That limit becomes the extent of their paradigm even through, in actuality, far more is available. Where in your business have you set limits on your accomplishments that you think are real but are really imaginary?
For example with direct business application is that of the railroad industry. 125 years ago the railroad industry was one of the most powerful industries in the world.
As time changed, and automobiles and plans arrived, the railroad industry was clear that these new methods of transportation were not part of the railroad industry.
What the industry was not able to do was shift it's paradigm to recognize that it was not in the railroad business but instead the transportation business.
Similar paradigm shifts are occurring today for many businesses in the area of information and telecommunication.
Where in your business are you failing to recognize a paradigm shift?
The concept of paradigms shows up when we establish goals and begin to take action. Extraordinary result producers set a goal that takes them beyond what they know how to accomplish and begins the process of taking action to achieve the result. They know that "how" is the story you tell after you have achieved the result.
The ordinary result producers set a goal that is reasonable, predictable, that they know how to accomplish. All of their actions and decisions take place inside the world of what they already know, what is comfortable.
It is said that being an extraordinary result producer is a process of becoming comfortable being uncomfortable. In other words, being outside your comfort zone and always pushing the limit of what is possible.
Creating paradigm shifts for yourself can be learned. It is like exercising a muscle. The following exercises will distinguish how entrepreneurs may limit their business results by creating self-imposed limitations.
A. Connect all nine dots using four straight connected lines
B. Connect all nine dots using three straight connected lines
C. Connect all nine dots using one straight line
Add one match to the five matches to form four triangles identical to the ones you see.
Call me, if you would like the answers to these exercises. My Name is Michael Russo. My phone number is (xxx)xxx-xxxx
Remember: Achieving extraordinary results depends greatly on the reality you choose to live in.
We choose our reality by what we choose to see and how we choose to interpret what we see.
As human beings we are run by what we want life to be, not by what is.
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