migrated from Blogger – original post dated January 27, 2008

I finally purchased, and began to read, Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. I haven’t gotten too far, but already he is speaking of an area that I have been very interested in recently. Covey refers to it as a paradigm shift. I have often referred to it as ‘walking a mile in someone else’s shoes’ or said, “Life is not black and white, but merely shades of gray.”

Paradigm shift is far simpler to remember and well to the point.

As I type this, the thought strikes me, “If everyone were able to stop, and see another person’s point of view, we would have far less conflict and strife in the world.” Not a novel or unique thought, but there you have it.

Covey goes on to speak of Thomas Kuhn’s book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” in which Kuhn shows how almost every significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavor is first a break with tradition, the old ways of thinking, with old paradigms. This paradigm shift can also be called the “Aha!” experience.

In order to change your life, to build something new, or to turn your world on its ear, a paradigm shift is in order. An integral facet of life coaching is setting aside the old ways, the old view of how you saw your world and your life going and instead open up a new chapter and structure your life in a way that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and get started.

Paradigm shifts can be easy, quickly made but they can also be very difficult. I spent 17 years working in jobs that I hated before I experienced a paradigm shift and realized just how well suited I would be to entrepreneurship. Why did it take me so long to see it? My first and most deeply lasting model of entrepreneurship was my first husband, who seemed to spend more time trying to shoot himself in the foot than succeed at what he did. It was that image of entrepreneurship that haunted me through the years, prohibiting me from trying something similar until I came to the simple revolutionary realization that I wasn’t him, and that I had the power, common sense and tenacity to succeed.

Another personal paradigm shift was choosing to homeschool my daughter instead of continuing to send her to public high school. For years, my only two ‘choices’ had been public school or private school. Not really a choice since I had no way to afford private school for her. Then I moved to Missouri and discovered that there were people who actually homeschooled their children. What?! My first response was, “Is that legal?”

A few years later, after another miserable and disastrous year in the public school system I would finally remove my eldest daughter from her 9th grade classes, seven months into the semester. We designed a curriculum for her, which included college-level algebra, women’s history studies, and political science—with plenty of the essays and writing assignments she loved so much. She went on to ‘graduate’ a couple of years later by taking her SAT’s and GED and entered junior college. At 19 going on 20, she is in college and doing well.

My paradigm shift from public school to homeschooling gave us both the opportunity to bond, to spend more time really learning subjects of interest, and lessened the enormous pressure of attending an overcrowded school filled with conflict and roadblocks instead of roads to education. I learned that school didn’t have to be a dirty word filled with fear and pain, and it helped me transition myself fully to ‘lifetime learner’ mode right alongside my teenager.

I could probably write a book about how it helped and what it did for the two of us. But in the end, when her baby sister was born in 2006, my husband and I were both committed to homeschooling this second child from birth. In a few short years I transitioned from feeling inadequate and unable to ‘teach’ my child, to feeling enabled and excited about teaching my little one how to read and write and all of the years beyond. Now that is a paradigm shift!

So now it is your turn.

I want you to first think about a time when you experienced a simple, small mini-paradigm shift. Think of an “a-ha” moment when you saw someone else’s point of view and stood for a moment in their shoes and experienced a piece of what they felt. Got it? Good.

Now for a bigger challenge—take a moment and examine your life. What is working? What isn’t? Be specific. It won’t help if you throw up your hands and say, “Nothing’s working!” And I doubt you would be here at this site if EVERYTHING was working out for you, so identify a facet of your life you need to change or improve.

Got it? Okay good.

I want you to spend the next week thinking about a part of your life that you feel needs improvement or change. Think about your strengths, your abilities, and ask yourself, “How can I look at this differently? How can I make a change that will enable me to be MORE or HAPPIER or SATISFIED?”

I would be interested in hearing about what you identified, what you thought of, or even, how I can help. I welcome your comments below.

Take time today to enable a paradigm shift in your life in whatever area of life you are wrestling with. Trust me, it’s worth your time.