Most of us have a defined vision of how we see the world. But consider for a moment that your perspective isn’t a mandate, that it’s just one way of filtering the day’s decisions and events. It’s possible the lens through which you view life has prevented you from seeing an alternate, even a better, world. How we perceive the world and set our expectations is strongly influenced by past experience. Your perceptions have been built one event at a time since you were born.
A paradigm is a perspective or set of ideas. It’s a way of looking at something. The word “paradigm” comes up a lot in the academic, scientific, and business worlds. Every industry has generally agreed-upon principles that guide procedures and best practices. But a second set of paradigms resides within us, molding our ideas about what clients want and who they should or shouldn’t be. They influence how we deal with money and what we think our work is worth. When we change paradigms, we’re changing how we think about something.
The ability to adopt a mindset that allows us to see differently and explore what-if questions without the bias of our past is a powerful tool. Let’s say there’s a significant world event that turns your life upside down (I think we can all imagine this pretty easily, don’t you?). What’s the best way to approach this unplanned, unwelcomed, unimaginable situation? The way you’ve always done things is likely not the answer.
Once we’re aware that our current paradigms are shaped by past experiences and unconscious biases, it’s easier to start over with a clean slate, clearing our minds to explore a different way of achieving our goals. One strategy for cultivating a paradigm shift is to engage with a mastermind group, discussing the way each of us runs our business. I guarantee no one is doing it the same way, and hearing other perspectives might shift your paradigm. You can also create a list of the different facets of your business, your beliefs or current practices in those areas, and imagine what would happen if you took an opposite approach.
If you have children or grandchildren, you understand the principle of the paradigm shift. Lesa and I are recent first-time grandparents; Lesa is Lolli, and I am Popster, and together we are LolliPop. Our daughter Kyla and son-in-law Bobby spent many family dinners during her pregnancy listening to us share parenting advice. One common theme was that you have no idea what being a parent means until the first time you see your precious child enter this world. Your life and perspective of it change forever. It’s the ultimate paradigm shift.
We’ve continued to host evening meals following the birth of Evie Rose, and Bobby and Kyla now repeat back to us their experience of a paradigm shift.
Paradigms are real, and shifting one’s paradigm is not only possible but, in many cases, necessary. Lesa and I have used paradigm shifting as a tool in our personal life and business in effective ways. Look back at my articles over the past year and you’ll see where we’ve been open to making major changes in our business model. We completely turned our business on a dime after visiting a San Francisco gallery where I discovered the embellishment process, newly adopted in the painting world, to reproduce art pieces (“President’s Message: Wake Up the Child Within,” July 2020). In a moment, we shifted from a successful high-end wedding studio to a commissioned portrait studio, designing personal art for our client’s homes.
Paradigm shifting is just one of many tools available to you, but it has no value unless it’s used. It’s a muscle that needs constant exercise. If you don’t flex that muscle on a consistent basis you might miss out on a change that could not just make your life better but could breathe new life into your business.
Gregory Daniel is the owner of Gregory Daniel Portrait Artist in Titusville, Florida.
Turning away from a tense discussion is a missed opportunity for growth and creativity. How can you lean in to the conflict?