Tag Archives: paradigm

12-Step Program for America: Step 1

By Jim Selman | Bio

I work with organizations that are attempting to change. At the beginning of working with a new client, I point out what’s missing for any organization that has recurring or seemingly intractable problems: what’s missing is a different way of observing. Whether we’re talking about a company, a community or a continent, a new perspective always gives us an opening to create new possibilities, have new choices and take new actions: a new way of observing the world effectively gives us a different future than some variation of ‘more of the same’. =&0=&. When we do, we begin to realize that we have a paradigm problem. Until we deal with that, none of our seemingly intractable problems—from staggering debt to unending war, climate change to the underlying causes of the mortgage crises—can be solved. Albert Einstein expressed this concisely when he said that sometimes our problems cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them.

Paradigm problems are like addictions. They are ‘self-referential’ structures that, at some point, disconnect us from a larger ‘reality’. Once disconnected, we begin to follow self-destructive patterns of behavior until we ‘hit bottom’ or have some form of crisis that ‘breaks the paradigm’ and opens possibilities for making other choices. In AA and most ‘recovery’ literature, the self-destructive behavior is understood to be the symptom. The ‘disease’

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Moods

By Jim Selman | Bio

Moods ‘color’ our experience of living. They are all encompassing interpretations of the world—especially the future—and tend to determine the quality of our lives. When we are in a positive mood, the world is bright and we ‘feel’ great. When we are in a negative mood, we typically want to withdraw from or strike out at everyone around us.  One of the most useful things we can learn as we grow up (at any age) is that moods aren’t personal.

First of all, they are involuntary. No one I know decides they will be in a bad mood (although there are a few who more or less equate their mood with ‘the way I am’, which can become a kind of self-fulfilling story and can justify just about anything). For example, I know a man who believes that he is, more or less, permanently doomed to procrastinate and put off what he knows he needs to do until the last minute. He then begins to become annoyed with himself weeks before

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The New Year

By Jim Selman | Bio

The last 10 years seems to me to have been a long decade. I know that time is supposed to  ‘speed up’ as we get older, but the “Millennium” celebrations, Y2K and all the hype about the 21st century seems like ancient history. A decade ago, we still weren’t at war in two countries, 9/11 hadn’t happened, George Bush was still promising a bipartisan administration, climate change was still a bit of an arcane scientific debate for most of us, New Orleans was still having a non-stop party and Google was a minor start-up. YouTube didn’t exist at the turn of the century, eBay and Amazon were still babies, and the real estate bubble was just beginning. Steve Jobs had recently returned to Apple after spending 13 years with NeXT, the iPod and iTunes were concept just beginning to be developed and the iPhone wasn’t even in sight.

We were all younger and, I think, generally more optimistic than we are today. We’ve lost a lot of our innocence in only 10 years. From Al Qaeda to Bernie Madoff, we’re waking up to the realization that the world is not our oyster and that the American Dream is just a dream if we aren’t responsible for it and act upon it.

Personally, I think the saddest thing that has happened to us in the past decade is the political and ideological polarization of our nation. I don’t

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Not Easy: Just Clear

By Jim Selman | Bio

Yesterday I was coaching a friend of mine. I was sharing a bit of how important it is to ‘come from’ your vision for your life. Our future is always a product of our actions, and our actions are always a correlate of how we relate to the future. When we act as if the future has already happened, then it is only a matter of time before that future is realized or we learn what we need to learn to achieve it. Her response was, “Well, you make it sound so simple, but it is too abstract and I need to know ‘how’ to have what I want in the future.” This was my response. "I understand. Everything is abstract until we learn it.

I
don’t think learning a new way of being or a different way of observing
the world is simple. I think it is clear when we can set aside our
conventional wisdom and ‘try on’ a different mindset. Not easy, but
clear.

If you are 100% focused on ‘how’ and ‘doing’, then it is impossible to learn a different way of being.

We normally try to BE different (or become resigned that we can’t change the way we are) by trying to change what

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Being My Word

By Jim Selman | Bio

I was working with a group of people last week in Mexico. The session was about planning and they chose as their theme for the year “I am my word”. The idea was to emphasize ‘count-on-ability’ and the importance of delivering on plans. I spoke to them for a bit and shared the following reflections.

My work is about ‘Being’. It is an inquiry into who we are as human beings that is grounded in a great deal of theory, practice, rigorous philosophy, biology and more recently in some of the implications of what we’re learning from quantum physics. This ‘ontological paradigm’ claims that whatever ‘reality is’ (including who we are) is a matter of interpretation—and all interpretations occur in language. Language is to us what water is to a fish. It is the medium

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Paradigms

By Jim Selman | Bio

Paradigm is one of those words that has become so over-used and misused that to say it in polite company or even in a corporate workshop will have eyes roll and people sigh as if the term itself is something to be endured. I am one of those people who say it a lot, have a pretty good idea of what I am talking about, and believe it is important for ordinary people to understand that most of our persistent problems are paradigm problems. That is, our dominant and collective interpretation

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Coaching

By Jim Selman | Bio

In 1976 I was working with some government employees in Virginia trying to implement a new system for integrating human services—a kind of one-stop shop for all the various services offered at that time. I had just finished the est training the previous July and was overwhelmed with my own experience and the idea that a person could transform themselves and their relationship to everything. Until then, I had bought into the belief that people don’t really change in fundamental ways, that personalities are fairly fixed, and that it requires a major crisis to shift our perceptions of reality. It was during that period that I formulated the idea that there were things that could be managed or taught and other things that could not be managed or taught but that could be “coached”. The difference had to do with how we observe others and ourselves and how we relate to power and responsibility.

This was a time before the concept of organizational culture had appeared in the business lexicon. I don’t think I even heard the word ‘paradigm’ until about 1980 or so. Peter Drucker was about the only popular writer on the subject of management. This was a time when people thought in terms of careers spanning a lifetime and many even expected to work for one or perhaps two companies for life. Tom Peter’s landmark book, “<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Search-Excellence-Americas-Companies-Essentials/dp/0060548789/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228673823&sr=8-1

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The Shift

I came across an extraordinary six-minute YouTube video called ‘The Shift’—a presentation that blows one’s mind with factoids about the rate of change in the world. The Shift they are talking about is a ‘paradigm shift’, meaning our entire worldview, indeed our whole reality, is being turned upside down and inside out by virtue of technology, population and the exponentially accelerating rate of change. Whether

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Anxiety

One of the nice things about traveling about as I have been for the past couple of years is that you get an opportunity to listen to people in other countries speak about the state of the world. As a fair generalization, I would suggest that we in the USA and Canada are among the most vocal ‘worriers’ I encounter. I would say that a high percentage of North American conversations—at least among those I converse with and based on my take on ‘the news’ on TV—are worried about something

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Legacy

I was having a conversation recently with an old friend who is deeply committed to a spiritual practice intended to release us from the vicious cycle of ego and our addiction to the material world. I was sharing about Serene Ambition and my commitment to do what I can to encourage our generation to ‘make a difference’ and leave the world in better shape than we found it—to leave a legacy of possibility to those who come behind us.

My friend pointed out that this is a terrific focus for service

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