Column: The illusion of two paradigms and its impact on performance
Have you ever wondered why some members of your leadership team operate with more grace and presence than others, despite the fact they have similar roles? Or why sometimes you’re frantic and stressed out, and at other times you’re in the flow and feel at your best?
In our efforts to explain human experience and behaviour, we’ve become very superstitious in attributing our moods and the way people act to external factors or to the past. But what if none of these superstitions are true, and there is a simple scientific answer that universally explains these variations?
Well, there is, and understanding it will transform your life and business.
We comfortably, and unconsciously, alternate between two different paradigms explaining where our experience is coming from. The outside-in paradigm holds that your feelings and experiences are caused by external events in the world. Somebody makes you feel the way you do. Your thinking is the logical reaction that follows circumstances and events.
The inside-out paradigm holds that your thinking creates your experience of reality. No situation, person, or event can make you feel a certain way or make you have a certain experience.
You will feel and experience whatever you are thinking in the moment.
For example, one of your kids misbehaves or someone beeps their horn at you in traffic. One day you get angry as if the cause was outside of you, but the next day it washes over you because you see your reaction is coming from your thinking.
These paradigms are mutually exclusive. The inside-out paradigm is the only one that’s true. The outside-in paradigm is a misunderstanding. It’s like saying the sun rises every morning. Although it certainly looks that way, we know the earth is turning on its axis, causing the sun to appear to change its position in the sky.
Whether you realise it or not, 100% of your experiences, feeling states, and realities derive from a real time creative process happening inside your own mind. This isn’t just true in the way you react to things, but also in the way life looks to you in the first place. Your mind is like a movie production studio, continually creating a new scene with feeling and meaning, each scene seeming utterly real and poignant.
The idea that thinking creates your reality is likely not new to you, but when I say that the mind can only work one way, I am leaving absolutely no room for exceptions or exclusions. This is true for every human in every moment of life.
So why is this a big deal in business?
Here are just a few reasons: Because we’re creating our own stress, tension, and burnout without realising we’re doing it to ourselves.
Because we go about making up problems (literally) to explain undesired symptoms in our lives and businesses, and then waste an incredible amount of time and resources trying to solve the wrong problem.
Because we experience our thinking but believe we’re experiencing our difficult colleagues, and so we become reactive and narrow minded in our responses.
Because we obstruct our mind’s built-in design for success and, in doing so, prevent ourselves from seeing clearly and having the insights necessary for rapid breakthroughs.
The list goes on and on. The result is mind-boggling inefficiency on a global scale.
If every human understood this, I wouldn’t be surprised if global GDP doubled. In 2020, that would amount to an additional $85trn of output. Of course, it will be many decades before this is understood on a global scale, but for progressive leaders, it can be learned throughout an organisation.
Using the movie production studio of your mind, imagine what effect this could have on your business and investment performance.