Paradigm Shift: A Personal Experience
Growing up in a society steeped in individualistic culture meant that I developed character and personal ethics and principles that were centered on individualism. My mind and soul was conditioned to believe my ability to self-determine and personal and professional growth was a quest that I should alone. I believed that the society and the people I interacted with, even on a daily basis, had little or no say in shaping my individual goals. I was conditioned to believe that giving people or the sound such power would amount to setting up myself to play the victim card whenever something went wrong. However, I experienced a paradigm shift when I joined high school and while working part time. I had an epiphany that radically transformed my personal and character ethics. My perception of self and others changed, I believe, for the better.
In high school, the tutors laid significant emphasis on group discussions and cultural exchanges within the classroom. Group task completion was founded on the importance of harnessing collective intelligence and diversity within the learning environment. Our classes were comprised of individuals from different cultures; some of which were the exact opposite of the individualistic culture that I had been accustomed to. However, it is the ease with which we managed to complete tasks as a group that enabled me to break from my long-held perceptions about self and success factors. Each member of our group brought a fresh new look on every issue we discussed. I grew tremendously individually and professionally. My social and life skills improved significantly which came in handy when I started working part time.
Working part time further reinforced my newfound perception about life. I had to work with individuals from different cultures and background. Our success within the workplace was hinged on our ability to work collectively as a team to meet customer demands and help in achieving organizational goals. Teamwork and collective thinking was a big thing at my workplace. Results were measured not only at both individual and organizational or team levels. While I focused on my individual success as an employee, like in the case of school work, I became more conscious of how my individual effort was impacting the overall performance of the team and organization in general. I was more aware of how others, especially my supervisor, manager and team members, perceived my performance.
While my principle and belief I hard work did not change, how I achieved my success changed. Instead of an individualistic approach I had been accustomed to for several years, I adopted a more collective attitude. I was more conscious of how others perceived my efforts, principles and ethics. My definition of success and self-determination has also evolved due to these experiences. I now recognize the role others have in shaping how I define myself. Drawing from cultural and professional interactions I have had over the years, I believe that definition of self is an evolving undertaking that is reinforced by new ideas and lessons learned over time. I also believe that my success is not confined to material and non-material things that I accumulate as an individual. Rather, it is the sum total of what I acquire individually and how I impact individuals and organizations. I believe this paradigm shift has made me a better individual and professional.