6 Ways to make a Paradigm Shift in a Coronavirus Threatened World

Years ago, like many of us, I read the great book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by the late Stephen R Covey and it made a huge impression on me.

One of the concepts I found very interesting about the book was the concept of “paradigms” and how to make a “paradigm shift”. A paradigm is a model, theory, perception, assumption or frame of reference. As Covey says, in simple terms, it’s the way we see the world “in terms of perceiving, understanding, interpreting”.

Right now, most people are seeing the Coronavirus as something we need to protect ourselves against. This is very understandable given the implications of getting it.

Just last week, I came across an article published in the Independent, one of the UK’s largest digital news sources and it reflected the view of Graham Medley a health scientist and professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

His tip struck me as simple yet profound and it requires a paradigm shift – a different way of looking at what we can all do to slow down the spread of the virus. He said that instead of thinking about protecting ourselves, we should pretend that we are already infected and try to protect others.

So most people have a fear of acquiring the virus,” he said. “I think a good way of doing it is to imagine that you do have the virus and change your behaviour so that you’re not transmitting it”.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and that doesn’t merely require us to act differently. It demands that we think differently. Here are 6 ways that you can make the kind of paradigm shift that the world needs right now:

  1. Shift your mindset from a reactive or defensive one to a proactive one – “What can I think or say or do differently which is going to make a difference”;
  2. Shift your attitude from one shaped by blaming and shaming, to one shaped by understanding and empathy;
  3. Shift your perspective from an external locus of control – “let’s protect ourselves from the foreign invader by building a wall to shut it out” to an internal locus of control – “let’s do everything we can to ensure that we are not spreading this any further”;
  4. Shift your priorities from putting yourself first to serving others by putting the interests of the broader community of which we and our families are part, first;
  5. Recognise that if you focus on your circle of influence (things you can do to make a difference) rather than your circle of concern (things we are worried about but can do nothing about) you can start expanding that circle of influence into that wider circle of concern.
  6. If necessary, put your plans on hold for now and focus on the big picture and the long term. This will require you to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gain.

The world is rapidly changing and the changes are going to require us to be resilient, creative, courageous, collaborative and adaptable. There will be huge casualties – many of those will be very unfortunate vulnerable people who succumb to the virus physically; many will be financially ruined; many will be emotionally scarred. What will be needed are whole new ways of seeing and doing things – new socio-economic systems, new social structures and norms, new ways of doing business, new ways of playing and watching sport etc etc.

All these new ways start with new or different paradigms. The paradigm shift suggested by Graham Medley is just one and I think it can make a significant difference.

Let me share one that a good friend of mine came up with a few days ago:

Our parents and grandparents were asked to go to war. We have been asked to sit at home on the sofa”.

Alex Paizes

Leadership Development Specialist

If you are interested in learning more about Alex and his workshops on Essemy, please visit this link.