What is a Paradigm?

Although the word “paradigm” has been a part of the English language since the 15th century, it never received much use until the 1960s.   We didn’t hear the word used much in agricultural circles for another 20-plus years.   Pronounced “para-dime”, the word has always been defined as “one that serves as a pattern or model.”   Since the 1960’s, we have used the word paradigm to refer to a set of assumptions, concepts and practices that constitute the way we view the world around us.   Therefore, a paradigm shift would involve rejecting one worldview in favor of another one.   It is a change from one way of thinking to another way of thinking.   It is a transformation – often a major transformation.

Allow me to provide an example of a paradigm and a paradigm shift.   There is ample evidence that early civilizations believed the earth they lived on was flat.   That was their paradigm.   Eventually someone came along to challenge that paradigm with the concept that the earth is round.   It is NOT easy to move from one paradigm to another.   It upsets a wide range of previously held beliefs.   It requires one to admit that his or her previous assumptions were wrong.   Over time, though, most people eventually adopted the paradigm that says the earth is round.   However, there are still a few who adamantly proclaim the earth is flat.   They belong to an organization called the Flat Earth Society.

Each and every one of us has a set of paradigms that determine the way we think, the way we live our lives and the way we run our businesses.   For most of the past 30 years, I have challenged farmers and ranchers to “think outside the box.”   The “box” I am referring to is the paradigm that governs how they live their lives, as well as how they operate and manage their business.   In most cases, your paradigm defines your comfort zone.   There may be a better paradigm, but you will never know about it until you gather up enough courage to take a look outside the box you have put yourself in.


Quote Worth RE-Quoting –

“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.”   ~ Hugh Prather