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Paradigm Shifting Stories and Resources

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Learn the secrets of famous people in these paradigm shifting stories.

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Paradigm Shifting Stories

How the Richest Man in the World Uses his Signature Talents

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation and the world's richest man, says, "You know, the notion that a kid who thought software was cool can end up creating a company with all these smart people whose software gets out to hundreds of millions of people, well, that's an amazing thing. I've had one of the luckiest situations ever. But I've also learned that only through focus can you do world-class things, no matter how capable you are."

FORTUNE magazine, July 2002, tells us that Gates, 46 years old, now devotes most of his time to what he loves best: namely, communing with the geeks who actually build Microsoft's products. His new role plays to perhaps his greatest skill---that uncanny ability to foresee how emerging software technologies can be woven together and parlayed into must-have "industry standard" products, which, in turn, reinforce demand for other software from Microsoft and its allies.

Says bridge buddy and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett: "Bill has found a rhythm in the three areas of life that he really cares about, and that's terrific. In business, in philanthropy, and in his personal family life, he has what he wants, and it's all clicking."

Craig Mundie, Microsoft chief technical officer for advanced strategies and policy, explains, "Bill's unique gift was always the way he does this complete and continuous synthesis. It's like he's a pipe, and all kinds of stuff goes in at this end and a continuous output of optimized strategy comes out the other end. What we are designing is critical infrastructure for everything digital going forward--business and government systems, communications, entertainment, you name it. The complexity of the challenge is unprecedented, but that just gets Bill's competitive juices flowing. Bill has three modes in meetings, which you might describe as listening, challenging, and coaching. He's gotten better at coaching in the past couple of years."

Coaching Tip

How the Best Golfer in the World Uses his Signature Talents

After studying time for more than three decades, physicist Julian Barbour has come to a fascinating and counterintuitive conclusion: Time is an illusion.

All that's real are instants that Barbour calls "Nows." Our brains are hardwired to take the experience of these "Nows" and create the illusion of time. "If you try to get your hands on time, it's always slipping through your fingers," says Barbour in the Summer 2000 issue of Spirituality and Health magazine. "People are sure it's there but they can't get a hold of it. My feeling is that they can't get a hold of it because it isn't there."  

Even if physicists eventually accept Barbour's theories, his ideas will, like quantum mechanics itself, be thoroughly understood by very few. Still, to the rest of us, they offer a powerful metaphor to reflect on the moments of our lives and how we might best live them. As Barbour says, "to see perfect stillness as the reality behind the turbulence we experience" is good for us all to learn.  

Focusing on what matters, moment by moment (rather than thinking of reality as what happens when a series of still pictures runs through a projector), helps us reach clarity. B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D., tells us not to overlook the importance of attention. By refining our attention, we can focus and thereby rediscover the sense of well-being that emerges spontaneously from a balanced mind. Research tells us that geniuses of all kinds shared one mental trait, despite the wide range of their individual brilliance: They all possessed an exceptional capacity for sustained, voluntary attention.  

Dr. Wallace's wife taught Tiger Woods at Stanford University before he emerged as a superstar of golf. What most impressed her was his powerful ability to focus---a skill that has evidently contributed to his recent achievements. Mr. Woods uses his talent of sustained, voluntary attention to maximize his strengths (his extraordinary long-game and putting skills) and minimize his weaknesses, like that of chipping out of a bunker (he was only 61st on the PGA tour in 'sand saves').  

To some degree, we all have an innate signature talent for some activity. By focusing our attention on building the strength of our unique, individual and enduring talents, while applying damage control to our weaknesses, we can choose to move from satisfactory performance to excellence. When we know what our principle talents are and how we might apply them, the application of attention allows our focused energy to push us toward success.


What is Your Notion of Leadership?

Way back in 1900, physicist Max Planck wrote a mathematical formula, on a postcard to a friend, that introduced to the world the notion of tiny, discrete bundles of energy, which behaved both as waves and as particles, and came to be known as quanta. This formula has become the basis of quantum physics, the strange new science that tells us reality is discontinuous and deeply paradoxical---a reality that doesn't follow the cause and effect rules of our ordinary empirical science.

Analyzing the century of progress since Planck's formula was created, theoretical physicist Amit Goswami has summarized the weird nature of reality in a quantum world:

1. A quantum object (for example, an electron) can be at more than one place at a time.

2. A quantum object cannot be said to manifest in ordinary space-time reality until we observe it as a particle.

3. A quantum object ceases to exist here, and simultaneously appears in existence over there; we cannot say it went through the intervening space (the quantum leap).

4. A manifestation of one quantum object, caused by our observation, simultaneously influences its correlated twin object---no matter how far apart they are (quantum action at a distance; nonlocality).

Principles of quantum physics have led to high technologies like lasers, transistors and CAT scans but we have difficulty in contemplating events of our everyday lives as quantum phenomena. Yet, the principles of quantum physics are an essential component of what is happening around us. We still tend to see our world operating within the empirical science that is based upon seventeenth century, Newtonian cause and effect, mechanical physics and the Cartesian split of mind and body.

As a result, the dramatic quantum discoveries of the twentieth century have not yet been included in business practices. However, there are some who envision a change in consciousness, a paradigm shift, which would include quantum phenomena into business practice learning, such as leadership development.

The question, "What is your notion of leadership?" was asked of Ralph Kilmann (http://www.Kilmann.com), author of the new book, "Quantum Organizations", by Russ Volckmann, editor of the Integral Leadership Review (http://www.LeadCoach.com).

Here is Kilmann's response:

Leadership, just to put it in context, is one of the most discussed topics in the last 100 years. There originally was a belief that if we had a great leader, all our problems would be solved. We still have that hero myth about leaders: if you find the right leader with the right traits, the right abilities, the right disposition, this will save us. I think there still is that fantasy.

Based on my understanding of the new paradigm, what if we embrace what we know of reality through quantum physics, cosmology, neuroscience and the evolution of consciousness, and we take that all very seriously. What does that say about the notion of leadership?

I come out two ways on this. First, everyone can be a leader. There can be shared leadership and servant leadership throughout the organization. I am not perpetuating the myth that this is one person on top who gives orders and the rest are supposed to follow like a well-oiled machine. That's the Newtonian model. Leadership is more about adult responsibility in today's world and today's quantum paradigm.

What is this person, leader if you will, doing about his or her own self-development? There seems to be a need for a special responsibility to develop oneself. I can't be a good role model. I can't impact other people effectively. I can't help other people grow. I can't be involved in creating functional and healthy systems and processes if I don't know who I am and if I haven't done my work in growing and evolving. So there is a very inherent need for people, if we want to call them leaders, to develop themselves because they are in special situations, special roles where they can touch upon the lives of others. My question for leaders is what have you been doing about your own development, growth, spiritual enlightenment and your own sense of self. In other words, what work have you done in developing your soul and developing your spirit?

The second feature is do leaders understand the nature of systems in today's world? Do they understand infrastructures, systems and processes? Or do they have an outdated worldview of what is an organization and what is reality in today's world? It's not enough just to develop yourself, whether it's through meditation, therapy or enlightenment. No, that is not enough! We also have to understand the context, the environment of our world. That means leaders have to know some of the things I talked about earlier (in the interview): that there are these hidden quantum waves in organizations that have tremendous impact on what people see and what people do. We need to help people participate in self-designing and self-managing strategy, structure, reward systems and all the processes and improvements, if we are going to make full use of people as well as providing opportunities for people to self-develop. That's a two way street.

Organizations are for products and services. But organizations are also the setting where adults spend their lives and therefore are fertile ground for helping people to continue growing and developing, knowing their true essence and expressing their true essence in everything they do. To what extent have our leaders been trained to be aware of the complexities of organization? Are they just equipped to deal with marketing, finance or accounting? To what extent are they aware of systems, processes and infrastructure? Are they in touch with the way reality has unfolded?


What do authentic leaders have in common?

They care, teach, affirm, champion, refine, stretch, lead, and love through personal example. They understand that leadership is a matter of influence, not position — influence that results from being both respected and liked! People follow because they want to, not because they have to. Gutsy leaders are excited, engaged, and intensely focused — they are passionate, and their passion is contagious!

Winston Churchill said it well: "The key to your impact as a leader is your own sincerity. Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself believe."

What will you do to ensure your leadership is characterized by passion, guts, and glory?


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