Social paradigms dictate our behavior and collective values. In the 1950s, the rule was “throw it anywhere, it will go away,” and smokestacks billowing black smoke were a proud symbol of productivity…
While we are in a paradigm, we take its rules and boundaries for granted. It is what we call “reality.” Like eyeglasses with colored lenses, our paradigm colors whatever we perceive. “Most of our notions about the world come from a set of assumptions which we take for granted, and which, for the most part, we don’t examine or question,” says Werner Erhard. “We bring these assumptions to the table with us as a given. They are so much a part of who we are that it is difficult for us to separate ourselves from them enough to be able to talk about them. We do not think these assumptions, we think from them.”
Expressions such as “that’s impossible,” or “that’s not the way we do it around here” speak to the existence of paradigms, or belief systems, that are operating, unseen, in the background. Like water to a fish, they are not recognized by us as our paradigms. Yet, they influence what we think – and even what we see.
Once we recognize that our paradigms are an invisible structure through which we think, the next step is to understand the degree to which they determine what we see and experience. Their influence is far more powerful than we may realize.
Thomas Khun, who in 1962 wrote a seminal book on scientific paradigms called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, points to an experiment that illustrates the paradigm effect. In the experiment, originally reported in 1949, people were briefly shown a deck of playing cards in which some cards had red spades instead of black. The subjects literally saw the red spades as black, because that’s what they expected. Once the anomaly was pointed out, the subjects had no trouble spotting the red spades. The experiment and others like it led Khun to the conviction that our paradigms act as filters on reality. We never see the world directly; we always see it through these paradigms filters. We never see the world in its entirety; we only see pieces. And our mental frameworks naturally bias us toward only seeing that part of the world that supports our paradigms.
“Our paradigms determine the way the world ‘shows up’ for us,” Says Erhard, “and that allows for only certain possibilities. Our paradigms determine our worldview, the way we perceive things, what we perceive, what we can see as possible, what we can’t see as possible and what we can’t see at all. Ultimately, they limit our strategies and our actions.”
The secret of paradigms is that, with them, we construct our own reality. As Thomas Khun said in 1962: “When paradigms change, the world itself changes with them.”
It’s a revolutionary thought, and it is the most important thing to know about paradigms.
How reality occurs – or “shows up” – for people is not determined by what’s there to be seen, but by how we are seeing it.
Erhard says that instead of waiting for a new paradigm to become apparent, we can create and invent futures that “were not going to happen anyway.” He points out that when a breakthrough is needed, what is often called for is the development of a new paradigm.
“Changing the paradigm does not negate the need for realistic, hard-headed thinking,” he says. “In ‘business as usual,’ we get clear about the situation to determine what we can do and what we can’t. But to produce a breakthrough, you have to stand the usual approach on its head.”
The process begins with inventing a new possibility, without regard to whether you know what to do to realize it. You then look back at the situation from the standpoint of that new possibility.
“That is what gives you the new perspective and what allows you to see the situation in a way you haven’t seen it before,” says Erhard. “That is the beginning of generating a new paradigm. Breakthroughs are a product of seeing something in a new way, which enables you to see new opportunities and new openings for action that you couldn’t see before. Breakthroughs come as a result of shifting your commitment from the predictable future to a possible future.”
In so doing, we will – literally – change the world that there is for us to see.
- excerpted from Breaking Out of the Box -A Crash Course in Paradigm Thinking, by Debra Feinstein.
“Your power is a function of velocity, that is to say, your power is a function of the rate at which you translate intention into reality. Most of us disempower ourselves by finding a way to slow, impede, or make more complex than necessary the process of translating intention into reality.”
The Purpose of The Erhard Jensen Ontological / Phenomenological Initiative is to:
Stimulate and support research into the development and application of the ontological / phenomenological laws of human nature and human behavior to the lives of individuals and human entities to reliably and significantly elevate human performance and quality of life. This includes all areas of living across the entire spectrum of human activity, for example:
- Individuals, families and groups
- Public and private organizations such as partnerships, corporations, non-profit and educational entities
- Public agencies and governmental entities
- Bring the ontological / phenomenological model and methodology utilized in this leadership course to education — including research, course development, and teaching.
Stimulate and support research into the study and teaching of the ontological /phenomenological laws of human nature and human behavior, and the impact of these laws on life, living, and self.
For more information see http://www.erhardjensen.org
(Content Curated from the Werner Erhard Biography Website)
Werner Erhard is the originator of unique models of transformational learning that has helped shaped human consciousness in the last quarter of the 20th century. One of the great thinkers of the modern era, he has impacted, for decades, the areas of individual and organizational effectiveness throughout the world. The website “Werner Erhard Information” has gathered extensive links to where Werner Erhard’s work has impacted people’s lives. Ranging from scholarly publications at Harvard University to his contributions in the field of coaching and humanitarian projects created, his work continues to affect the trajectory of human history.
Did you know that there is a website for est graduates to connect and share what they got from the est Training? Here is what it says at http://erhardseminarstraining.com:
“A reunion for you and all the people who dared to create a new possibility for themselves and their lives. It is now the 21st Century and there is much talk of possibility and transformational leadership – but where did this all start? In 1971, in a hotel ballroom in San Francisco over 35 years ago, transformation burst onto the national stage.
Werner Erhard and the est Training brought to the forefront the ideas of transformation, personal responsibility, accountability, and possibility – and over the next decade, over a million people “Got it”. The est Training was as much a sign of the times as bell bottoms, peace rallies and space travel.
Over the years, more than two million people from all walks of life participated in est or the programs that grew out of Erhard Seminars Training. Professionals and leaders from government, business and health industries, as well as people in the fields of arts and entertainment actively participated in the programs of est. Enjoy the essence of what est created and the impact it has made on society through the archives, video and vivid shares on this site. Stand up and acknowledge how you have made a difference in this world out of having participated in the est Training. Celebrate in this tribute to the est Training, Werner Erhard and you.”
What about you? What did you create for your life out of having done the est Training? And what of those lessons learned can we bring forth today that might make a difference to how the world is going?
“Sometime around now – it may have happened five years ago or fifty years ago – but sometime around now, the rules for living successfully on this planet shifted. We can no longer hope to live meaningful, purposeful lives using the rules of a you or me world. It’s becoming clearer and clearer to those who will look that in order to live successfully on this planet, we must discover and live by the rules of you and me.” – Werner Erhard
“I got an opportunity to work with Youth at Risk, which program continues to today, to see what happened with young gang kids when they got the possibility of making a difference in other people’s lives. I saw what that did with them and how committed they became to that possibility…When you can leave behind the way you wound up being, when you are free to choose beyond the way you wound up being, that is a very powerful experience.”
– Werner Erhard at University of Pennsylvania, 2016
Werner Erhard and Professor Jonathan D. Moreno
He also has 11 grandchildren, and one of his current preoccupations is the numbing effects of digital technology on millennials. Warming to the subject, he read aloud another passage, this one from a dense Heidegger essay calling for a “comportment toward technology which expresses yes and at the same time no.”
”The cost to this generation is enormous,” Mr. Erhard said. “They are losing access to their humanity.”
Maintaining access to his own humanity may be Mr. Erhard’s biggest project. Floating around the screen of another computer was the word “impeccability,” a reminder, he said, “to deal with whatever I touch with care.” If he learned his lesson the hard way, maybe there is no easy way.
“Here’s how it is for me,” Mr. Erhard said, leaning in, giving his vocal cords a break. “When my integrity is lacking, I am clear that I just got to be a bit smaller as a person. And the thing you have to remember about integrity is it’s a mountain with no top.”
Werner Erhard and Professor Jonathan D. Moreno discuss Werner’s ideas, the est Training, and more at the University of Pennsylvania in April 2016 where the film Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard was featured in their First Annual Bioethics Film Festival. Watch the full discussion between Werner Erhard and Jonathan D. Moreno: