Choose your paradigm – A strong choice (and 3 not so strong)

Photo courtesy of One Way Stock,   

Photo courtesy of One Way Stock,

It’s a new year – a time when we can make new choices. This year, I invite you to make a really fundamental choice.

Decide what paradigm you will lead from.

For 2016, I am re-committing to being in a learning paradigm in both my professional life and my personal life.

We mostly don’t choose our paradigm consciously. Here are three paradigms we unconsciously choose. And a fourth – the learning paradigm - that will serve us and our organizations better.

1. Defending

We’ve all seen this movie. Something goes wrong and we defend our actions, even though we know we made some mistakes. Or maybe we can’t see the mistakes we’ve made, so we just defend the outcome as the best we could do. Lots of negative consequences to this.

  • It’s hard to make things better when you’re busy defending how they turned out.
  • You don’t learn much about what might be if you’re stuck on what was.
  • Others stop giving you feedback so you’re cut off from useful information.

2. Blaming

Ok look, it’s not my fault. Did you see what he did? And she certainly played a role in this mess. Similar negative consequences as above. Add to that list that blame begats blame so you’ll soon have a culture of blame and anger.

3. Fixing

This one can seem benign or even helpful. Personally, I fall into this trap more than the others. It goes like this – there is so much wrong, so much I need to improve. Sounds like a good agenda but it’s a way of blaming myself. It’s not good for me or others around me. Yes, be willing to grow but don’t let it be all about what’s broken in yourself or others.

Instead choose a learning paradigm.

4. Learning

Just about everything that shows up in our lives has something to teach us, both the “good” things and the “bad” things. This year, I commit to being in a learning paradigm.

Whatever happens, ask yourself what you can learn – about yourself, the organization, your customer, etc.

I'd love to hear how this works for you. What are you learning? Is this habit taking hold? Do you find your mindset shifting? Drop me a note and let me know.

You can also invite your team members to reflect and learn through these questions. For more on reflection, see Bill Gardner's blog on