The Point of no Return

We go through our lives functioning in the world as we have come to know it through various forms of learning.  That learning is comprised mostly of explicitly obtained knowledge from various modes of education and also experiential knowledge, obtained through our daily lives.  We don't always have ways, or even the inclination, to validate whether this information, meaning our paradigms, are accurate or not.  In fact, we are often certain that our paradigms are grounded with fundamental truths.  When we operate in accord with these paradigms, and things don't work out, we may even be tempted to rationalize that any and everything is to blame but our own paradigm.

However, it is critical that we remain receptive the potential need for  changing our paradigms.  Short of that,  when our defenses are down, new information may sneak up on us and catch us off guard before we can put up a defense.  No matter how it happens, once we have a realization that one or more of our paradigms was inaccurate and needing to be changed, or even replaced, everything is different from that point on.  We often call this an 'Ah-ha' moment.

Some 'ah ha' moments are smaller refinements, while others can be life altering.  I can remember a couple of key 'ah ha' moments that were huge game changers for me. 

One was when I wanted a motorcycle as boy, and the only way I could make that happen was to buy a rusted pile a junk and rebuild it myself.  Much greater than the joy of finally riding my rebuilt motorcycle, was the power of the realization that if I could make this happen for myself as boy in 5th grade, I could do anything, and the world of possibilities unfolded right before my eyes.  I consider that realization a tremendous gift.

A second 'ah ha' happened for me in college. I have to admit that I coasted through high school and into college.  The work was easy enough to complete without ever taking a book home, and typically achieving A's and B's for my final grades.  My Chemistry Professor must have spotted this, and whenever I would go to hand in my lab assignment, he would snatch it up from his lab assistant and say, "I will grade Mr. Sims lab assignment."  He would find some detail that was in error, even something like leaving off the date, and fail my assignment so I would have to come back another day and redo the lab. 

This repeated for a couple of weeks.  At first I was  starting to get pretty irritated and then I declared war (but in a good way) and determined that I would beat him at his own game.  I resolved that my work, not only in the lab, but everywhere else, would be absolutely flawless.  Of course, this was not anywhere as easy as what I had been doing all through school up to that point; I had to study endlessly, I had to triple check my work, I had to maintain a discipline of doing whatever it took, and then, just a little bit more.  When it was time to hand in my work, I would refuse to give it to anyone other than the professor.  And you know what, he won!  Because now that I had discovered a new work ethic and that I could turn in consistent A's for Chemistry, I realized that I could do the same for Calculus, French and Sociology.  At that point, there was no turning back because I changed my paradigm forever.  I could not un-discover what I had learned about my capacity to do top notch work!

Now, as we get older, and wiser, we don't necessarily need mentors to set us up to trip over these 'ah ha' moments, we can even set ourselves up to go through the next paradigm revisions we need to achieve for our continual growth and evolution.  Furthermore, it is now our turn to offer these opportunities for life altering realizations back to the next generation. 

That is what I spent most of yesterday on.  I hope, for at least some of the 15 local high school seniors we spent the day with yesterday, that they will have come away with one or two valuable 'Ah ha' moments.  It would give me great joy, on behalf of our organization, to have’ paid it forward’.  But in addition to the obvious opportunities presented by young students who have temporarily lost their way, we need to be aware of how we can help our staff find the ‘ah ha’ moments they need to keep progressing towards greater and greater contribution and achievement.

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