The holy grail of Innovations is paradigm shift. This applies not only to business but also your personal life. You can see radical changes in your life only when you transcend beyond your existing belief system. But how can you achieve life-changing transformations? What is the catalyst for paradigm shifts?
It’s important to understand that paradigm shifts are not novelties that wear off after a while. They are new levels, which are permanent and irreversible. They are analogous to the state of wakefulness after sleep. When you are dreaming, everything you see and feel in your dream looks real to you. Your mind is in a different realm. Once you wake up it becomes evident to you that all that you felt during the dream has no validity anymore in your realm of wakefulness. You now know that all that seemed so real in your dream belonged to a different level. Your wakefulness is above and beyond your dream state.
The dream analogy was only to give you a feel about paradigm shifts. History has been filled with paradigm shifts after which human understanding transcended and could not go back to its old beliefs anymore. Once you know and see that the Earth is not flat, you cannot go back to the old belief that Earth is flat.
Paradigm shifts can occur in science, technology, and your personal life. In today’s fast-changing technologies, they call them disruptors. Now, the big question is what is the mechanism behind paradigm shift? How can you detect or even trigger radical changes in your life or business, or even an industry as a whole?
Where do paradigm shifts come from?
Every system of thought or model has two components:
This applies to scientific theories, industries, or your life. For example, you may assume that being indiscriminately nice to everyone is the basis of great relationships. You will start applying this assumption in many aspects of your life, until you discover being nice to some people may not work. If this belief is strongly rooted in your psyche, you may think your failure is because of your applications. So you try to change your methods and ways to be nice. After failing over and over again with some people, you may start doubting your assumptions. You begin to realize that maybe being indiscriminately nice to everyone was a wrong or inadequate assumption. That’s when the paradigm shift starts – When you begin questioning your assumptions.
The same applies to science and technology. Einstein’s theory of relativity came about when he questioned the assumption of absolute time. Quantum Physics came about when the assumption of objective reality was questioned. These were concepts that people, at the time, had a very hard time abandoning, because the changes were so radical that’d make everyone uncomfortable.
The Sign of Paradigm Shift
So how can you tell if you are on the verge of a shift? When various ways of applications and methods fail to solve a problem, you must start examining your assumptions. That’s when great things start to happen. Applications and methods only produce incremental improvements. Changes in assumptions, however, create irreversible and radical changes. The greatest sign of paradigm shift is the feeling of discomfort:
Paradigm shifts make people uncomfortable and invoke strong opposition
This uneasy feeling is the sign that the change is hitting the core belief or assumption. That’s when you face the most emotional opposition from others or yourself, if you are trying to improve yourself.
Enter Karl Popper
One of the greatest misconceptions is that scientists do experiments to test and confirm theories. The truth is that experiments are designed to do the opposite – to falsify theories and reject them. The job of a scientist is not to confirm or prove theories, but to disprove them.
Scientists job is to strive for paradigm shift constantly. It’s only then that our understanding of the world transcends to a new level. Karl Popper, one of the greatest philosophers of 20th century, explains that beautifully, in his work on philosophy of science.
If you want to transform your business or an industry, carefully list and examine the assumptions and the basic principles of that industry. Then see which assumptions are the ones that you can change. It’s only then that you can become a disruptor. Likewise, in your personal life, when you feel stuck, start listing and questioning your core beliefs. When you constantly question your beliefs you begin to transcend to a new level and become a better you – and irreversibly so.