Examine Your Paradigms

Most of our beliefs, mindsets, and paradigms are shaped very early in life from our surroundings. Others were shaped just yesterday by Fox News or the New York Times.

It’s scary how many of my own paradigms are deeply entrenched from external influences.

My mother chose to forgo a career and instead became a full-time, stay-at-home parent, while my father worked thirty years for a missile defense contractor. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Republicans were associated with supporting military funding and a strong defense. Missiles paid our bills. I believed Democrats wanted to injure us. Thus I am a Republican.

My father is Catholic. As were his parents. And theirs. And generations more back in Germany. My mother is a Methodist. But in the ‘60s, if a Methodist wanted to marry a Catholic, in a Catholic church, they literally had to sign a document agreeing to raise their children Catholic. Thus I am Catholic.

I am 51, and most of my close friends are 50+ (more like 60-70+). Many are facing knee replacements. All that running might have helped their heart, but it’s certainly the cause of the limping, aches, and pains in the knees. I don’t run.

One of my mentors is a famed neuroscientist and brain-imaging expert. He’s convinced me that one of the ways to decelerate the aging process in your brain and even forestall the onset of dementia is to be very active physically and mentally. Read. Dance. Learn. Explore. Connect. Exercise. Challenge yourself mentally. Retirement isn’t an option.

I don’t really care about music. I had zero people in my early life who were involved in music, so I filled those gaps with other passions.Thus I think music is fine, but generally a waste of time.

Being raised in Orlando, Florida, with no professional sports teams to cheer for, pushed me towards tennis. Or could it have been my mother who played twice a week? I think watching the NFL, NBA, and MLB is nonsensical.

I was raised in central Florida, and my junior high school was 60%+ minority. I am Caucasian. Many, if not most, of my friends from age 13-18 were African American. My three sons are being raised in Utah, one of the least racially diverse states in the nation. I’m not sure my youngest son has ever seen but maybe one or two African Americans in his life. He likely thinks that most people are white.

You get the point. Nearly all of my beliefs are shaped by other people or circumstances.

Who I knew or know at some point in my life. Where I’ve lived. When I was born and how I was raised. It’s quite horrifying to think about the consequences of our parents’ likely cavalier decisions and their life-long impact on us.             

Few of our beliefs do we deliberately design ourselves—they are, in fact, deeply entrenched into us by others.

Your mindsets are perhaps the most powerful force in your life. Check them. Challenge them.

Are they whole? Accurate? Stagnant? Healthy? Fair and reasonable? Prejudiced? Abundant?


Leading a team requires a different skillset than working as an individual contributor. To succeed in the face of new challenges, first-level leaders need to shift how they think and act. Download our latest guide and develop your people into a high-performing team. 

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a twenty-three-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts multiple podcasts including FranklinCovey On Leadership and Great Life, Great Career. Additionally, Scott is a co-author of The Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Everyone Deserves A Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices For Leading A Team. He is also the author of the multiweek Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow. Scott writes a weekly leadership column for Inc.com and is a frequent contributor to Thrive Global. Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company and grew up in Central Florida. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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