Sean Covey smartly proves how intelligent people of his time, who are also supposedly experts in their fields, have sounded ridiculous with the passage of time and new discoveries. Some statements are given below:

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”

(Kenneth Olsen, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977)

“Man will never reach the Moon, regardless of all future scientific advances.”

(Dr Lee De Forest, inventor of the Audion tube and father of radio, 1967)

“For the majority of the people, the use of tobacco has a beneficial effect.”

(Dr. Ian G. Macdonald, L.A. surgeon, 1969)

Likewise, teenagers make similar statements:

“I know I can’t go to the university. I just don’t have the brains…”

“It’s useless talking to my parents. They just don’t seem to understand me!”

“Me? Lose weight? It’s like thinking of snow in mid June in Karachi!”


Don’t you think that the above two lists have much in common? First, they are the perceptions of the people who have made these statements. Second, time has proven that these statements are either incomplete or inaccurate.

Paradigms, pronounced as ‘pair-a-dimes’, is another word for perceptions. Paradigms mainly refer to the way you look at something, your belief, your point of view or your frame of reference. It is also worthy to note that if our paradigms are incorrect about something they can become our limitations to progress. We focus on them so much that it becomes next to impossible to explore other possibilities.

Consider the teenager, who thinks it isn’t worth trying for higher education, because he/she is not smart enough. Or the one, who believes he/she can never have a healthy communication with his/her parents. What is likely to happen? Their perceptions will always hold them back from trying otherwise, because they have made up their minds to behave only in one manner.

Sean Covey explains: “Paradigms are like glasses. When you have incomplete paradigms about yourself or life in general, it’s like wearing glasses with the wrong prescription. That lens affects how you see everything else. As a result, what you see is what you get.”

If you believe you are ugly, that very belief will make you ugly. If you believe that everybody hates you, you will look for evidence to support your belief and you will remain a victim in your eyes. On the other hand, if you believe you are smart, this belief will cast a rosy hue on everything you do.

You can understand it better by thinking that you took a trip to the beautiful valleys and mountains of North Pakistan. Upon reaching there, you realized that it was hardly worth it, because all you could see was smog and haze. You began to think that all the praises tourists sang about the places were nothing but a pack of lies. When you came home, you discovered that your eyesight needed to be checked. That’s when the doctor told you, how bad your eyesight had become and that you had been seeing through the wrong lenses all along. When you finally got your lenses fixed, you realized how you could see the finest details of everything. And finally it dawned on you that you had missed much of the beauty of life, because you were looking through the wrong lenses!

When we discuss the paradigms of life, think about your own life – what does it centre around and how does it impact you?

So what do you think of yourself?

Paradigms of self

Sean Covey shared the story about the son of King Louis XVI of France. When King Louis had been dethroned and imprisoned, his enemies decided to frame his young son, who was heir to the throne. They took him to a far away community and exposed him for six months to all sorts of moral degradation, dishonour and distrust. But not once did the young lad buckle under pressure. Giving up their intensive temptations, they finally asked him, why did he not fall for the pleasures and lusts offered to him? He replied, because he was destined to be a king!

Prince Louis held on to the paradigm of himself so tightly that nothing could shake him. This is the most pertinent question you should ask yourself: are my paradigms of myself helping or hindering me?

Sometimes our poor self-image stops us from even trying to be a success. I remember having a team member in my organization, who was just not bothered about what others thought of her. When they talked behind her back, she didn’t seem to care. When they made fun of her before her, she simply laughed along. But she never stopped for a second to feel self-pity for herself. As a result, in spite of an average education and inter-personal skills, she achieved much at work – simply because she realized her true worth and focused on her goals.

Similarly, another shy girl, who could not get up to utter one sentence before class without stuttering, was once asked to give a presentation before the entire faculty members gathering. You could very well imagine what her plight must have been coming face to face with her greatest fears and low self-image. She tried to wiggle out of the situation but just couldn’t manage to. At last, she made great efforts to survive the presentation. And she did. She didn’t score spectacular marks or anything, but that day was one of the most memorable days of her life, mainly because she was able to overcome the greatest fears she had about herself. She got up and did it!

If you feel that you need to re-adjust your paradigm about yourself, the first step should be to spend time together with someone who believes in you, someone who can build you up, someone who can clean your glasses for you and tell you: “Of course, you can do it! You should absolutely enter that contest!”

Don’t be afraid to lean on this person for nourishment and advice. Try to see yourself the way he/she sees you. Every successful person has had someone who truly believed in him/her. It could be your parents, or one of them, a teacher, a friend, a sibling, a grandparent, a guardian, an uncle or an aunt. It only takes one person and it doesn’t really matter who it is.

If you feel you don’t have anyone in particular to lean on, pay special attention to part three that will give you tips on building your self-image.

What are habits?

They are completely at your command.

Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to your habits and they will be able to do them quickly and correctly.

So form them wisely!