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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

A few days ago I met one of life’s undeclared mentors. One of those people that have seen so much, done so much, and achieved so much that nearly every idea is weighted with a multitude of applications.

One thing he said: Everything I see, I try to understand what it does instead of what it’s for.

I’m convinced that one of our most powerful capacities is to shift paradigms. Those that can reframe, re-jig, reverse – they will ultimately succeed. Those that only see what is in front of them will be fed by the first group.

Below is a poem by US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins from Sailing Alone Around the Room. If we recognize the power of paradigms for solving the complex problems of our day – are we teaching our children to see?

First Reader

I can see them standing politely on the wide pages
that I was still learning to turn,
Jane in a blue jumper, Dick with his crayon-brown hair,
playing with a ball or exploring the cosmos
of the backyard, unaware they are the first characters,
the boy and girl who begin fiction.

Beyond the simple illustration of the their neighbourhood
the other protagonists were waiting in a huddle:
frightening Heathcliff, frightened Pip, Nick Adams
carrying a fishing rod, Emma Bovary riding into Rouen.

But I would read about the perfect boy and his sister
even before I would read about Adam and Eve, garden
and gate,
and before I heard the name Gutenberg, the type
of their simple talk was moving into my focusing eyes.

It was always Saturday and he and she
were always pointing as something and shouting “Look!”
pointing at the dog, the bicycle, or at their father
as he pushed a hand mower over the lawn,
waving at aproned Mother framed in the kitchen doorway,
pointing toward the sky, pointing at each other.

They wanted us to look but we had looked already
and seen the shaded lawn, the wagon, the postman.
We has seen the dog, walked, watered, and fed the animal,
and now it was time to discover the infinite, clicking
permutations of the alphabet’s small and capital letters.
Alphabetical ourselves in the rows of classroom desks,
we were forgetting how to look, learning how to read.


What is success ?

Thanks Jon. I was vague on that point – in too much of a hurry.

In this context success would mean finding the solutions for problems, reversing problems to be seen as opportunities, or seeing societal sunk costs as entrepreneurial enterprises.

I know that’s not always what success means.

As we were discussing on a post in your blog, (I believe) in a world of great, complex economic problems it’s not the fundamental economic premise that fails, just the paradigm. I know you disagree. And I’m happy to be wrong if I am.

I’m wide open to a new economics. I even suspect you’re right. I even look for ways to be wrong. But until then, I’m banking on paradigms.

I’m not at all certain I disagree.

I’m fundamentally uninformed enough to be able to decide if I agree or disagree … just have vague opinions.

[…] f, got all excited, and started evangelising some of the ideas I’ve written about here. Paradigms. Tribal business. Potent principles. These ideas always get Alan going and we ended up p […]

[…] Retro post: Revised based on “Look!” from November 30, 2004. […]