THE POWER OF PARADIGM

FROM THE BOOK- SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE_ STEPHEN R. COVEY

What is the paradigm? In what ways it affects our life? We’ll discuss about it here.

Paradigm means assumption or frame of reference.In the more general sense, it’s the way we “see” the world in the terms of understanding or interpreting.

Let’s have an example to understand how it works. Take a few seconds and just look at the picture below-

Now look at the below picture and carefully describe what you see.

Do you see a woman? What’s her age? What does she look like? What is she wearing?

You probably would describe her (second picture) as a woman in her mid twenties – very lovely, rather fashionable with a petite nose and a demure presence. If you were a single man you might like to take her out.

But what if I were to tell you that you’re wrong? What if I said this picture is of a woman in her 60’s or 70’s who looks sad and has a huge nose. She is someone you probably would help her across the street. Would you believe that?

Ok, now carefully study the below picture and then look at the second picture again. Can you see the old woman now?

If you still can’t find out the old lady in second picture then compare the necklace of second picture with the mouth of third one.Gradually you will find her huge nose.

When we saw the first picture, We made a paradigm or frame of reference (actually, we were conditioned to do so). But when we saw the second one we did see her from the same frame of reference. But after seeing the third one, we gradually find the old lady in the second picture. This is called paradigm shift. This paradigm shift isn’t easy. When we look away and then back we’ll immediately see the image we have been conditioned to see in that few seconds of time.

It shows, first of all, how powerfully conditioning affects our perception, our paradigms. If few seconds can have that kind of impact on the way we see things, what about the conditioning of a lifetime? The influences in our lives- family, school, work environment, associates, and current social paradigms such as the personality ethic- all have made their silent unconscious impact on us and help shape our frame of reference, our paradigms, our maps.

It also shows that these paradigms are the source of our attitudes and behaviors. We can’t act with integrity outside of them. We simply can’t maintain wholeness if we talk and walk differently than we see. If you were among the 90 percent who typically see the young woman in the second picture when conditioned to do so, you undoubtedly found it difficult to help her cross the street. Both our attitude about her and our behavior toward her had to be congruent with the way we saw her.

And that’s the summary of this post- Each of us tends to think we see things as they are. But this is not the case. We see the world not as it is, but as we are- or,as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms.

So that’s all about it. You can try this experiment with your friends. Firstly, show them the third picture, then the second one. I’m sure that they will find that there is a old lady in the second picture with immediate effect.