I did this Mixed Media of our cat “Maggie’ about eight years ago when we lived in Andover, MN. She is a rescued cat who has ‘never met a stranger’ with a habit of wanting to sit on books or papers I am working with.
I chose it for our Thought this week—‘Paradigm’—because Maggie (all cats for that matter) sees the world around her from about four to six inches off the floor. Try crawling around that close to the floor. You’ll see the world through Maggie’s ‘Paradigm’.
IF YOU’VE READ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sometime in the past, or have just started reading, I think you will agree. Anyone who reads the first 45-page chapter ‘Inside Out’ will never be the same. It introduces a key to unlock scores of puzzling human challenges faced almost daily in our physical, social, and spiritual worlds: ‘Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical; its psychological.’ This may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. This claim not only sounds good, but I believe it’s true. Words to describe this truth are ‘Paradigm’ and ‘Paradigm-shift’. If you never read the remainder of the book but understand this one truth, I believe this will have been one of the best time and money investments you will ever make. So, what is it?
“THE WORD ‘Paradigm’ comes from the Greek. It was originally a scientific term and is more commonly used today to mean a model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference. In a general sense, it’s the way we “see” the world—not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, interpreting.” Our attitudes and behaviors grow out of those assumptions based on our experiences. In simple words ‘Paradigms’ are a system of beliefs, ideas, values, and habits that is a way of thinking about the real world. ‘Paradigms’ are often thought of as the eyeglasses through which we see the world around us.
A Simple Illustration
I’VE USED THIS illustration many times. A young husband often observed his wife prepare meals during their first year of marriage. When she prepared a beef roast, he was intrigued that she always cut off both ends before putting it into the roasting pan. One day he asked why she did that. Her response was that it was the way she always saw her mother do it. Next time she visited her mother, she asked why she cut the ends off the roast. Her mom’s answer was simple: ‘My roasting pan was too short.’ The young wife experienced a ‘Paradigm-shift’! What she had been seeing and learning had little to do with how to prepare a roast. It was her mom’s need to fit the roast into her too-short roasting pan. The daughter changed!
‘Paradigms’ & Habits
WHICH COMES FIRST, a Habit or the ‘Paradigm’? In our illustration, mom saw that her roasting pan was too small for the cut of meat she generally purchased. That was her ‘Paradigm’ through which she saw her ‘roast-beef-|for-dinner’ world. Her solution was to cut the ends off the meat so it would fit the pan. This procedure became a habit observed by her daughter now grown up and married. The daughter’s ‘Paradigm’ became watching her mom’s habit with the conclusion that for some undisclosed reason this action is essential to properly preparing a beef roast for dinner…until someone innocently asked, ‘Why do you do it that way?’ That habit could have passed on for generations.
SO, WHAT ARE SOME habits you and I have developed from the influence of our ‘Paradigm’ through which we see the world? It seems to me the more limited our interaction with others the more apt we are to settle for unchallenged ‘Paradigms’. Listening to those with a larger roaster pan ‘Paradigm’ may very well put us on the same page and with the common objective—a delicious roast beef dinner to meet family and friends needs. Where do you and I need a ‘Paradigm-shift’?
I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. Psalm 119:59
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey p. 23
 Ibid. Covey’s illustration with the ‘Old Woman / Young Woman’ he learned at Harvard is a classic graphic illustration of the meaning. P. 25,26 & 45