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Mod. 5.1 - Activity: The Conventional Paradigm (In Your Life)

Now that you have a sense of what we're calling The Conventional Paradigm, let's explore what it looks like in your life. Reflect on the questions below.

  • What does the Conventional Paradigm look and feel like to you?

  • How, when, and where does it show up in your life?

  • How do you express and experience the Conventional Paradigm?

  • How do you reflect and reinforce it?

For the next few days, make a point of noticing when, where, and how you experience or express elements of the Conventional Paradigm. Take a moment to really observe and reflect on these occurrences, paying particular attention to your triggers, intentions, and the outcomes. Reflect on how you think and feel and act during and after experiencing or expressing the Conventional Paradigm.

Use the The Conventional Paradigm in Your Life Worksheet (or your own journal/g-doc) to write down your observations and reflections. Check out the Conventional Paradigm in Your Life Example to get a sense of what that might look like. If you're having a hard time getting started, you might try observing and reflecting on situations that follow one or more of these themes:

  • Shop ‘til you drop

  • It’s a dog eat dog world

  • That’s the bottom line

  • Complain, complain, complain

  • Ooh, that’s too weird!




How I experienced or expressed the Conventional Paradigm

The conventional paradigm veiled in the natural paradigm was on full display for me last week when I had the opportunity to attend the annual TED Conference in Vancouver, BC. If the components of the conventional paradigm are scarcity, individualism, competition, greed, resistance and fear, they could also be framed as the components of H1 within the Three Horizons Framework. At TED, they’re moving forward within an H2- model by eliminating the scarcity, fear, and in some cases the resistance while painting individualism, competition, and greed with a fresh coat of vocabulary by focusing on the “future of” with phrases like sustainability, generative, transformative, hope, and possibility which was the theme of this year’s conference. I received a $500 electric food composter as a gift and one of TED’s proud examples of how they are promoting regenerative efforts. Why millions of dollars are being invested and spent to hire world-class designers, engineers, and marketers to drive consumers into believing they need to spend $500 on an electric composter when they could use that money in several community led educational initiatives to inform large numbers of people about how easy it is to compost and then give them the resources to do it, to me is the very essence of “conscious capitalism.”


How this made me feel, think, and behave

I walked away from the TED Conference with a singular expression that embodied the entire experience: “There’s no culture without cult.” Seeing billionaires and millionaires pay between $10,000-$50,000 each to attend a conference where they hear “world changing ideas” and have access to unlimited amounts of bottled water, first-rate coffee, freshly shucked oysters, and La Durée macarons to fuel their conversations about how meaningful TED’s work, how much they love attending the conference, and then make multi-million dollar deals with one another, was eye opening in several ways. The cynic in me wanted to go totally Punk Rock and lift a middle finger from the big red dot in the center of the TED stage and then take a sledgehammer to the glowing red TED sign on stage-right. Conversely, the optimist, and hedonist in me felt like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a conference like this and tried to “just be cool” stuffing bag after bag of fresh dried mango into the recyclable backpack they gave me upon arrival. Scarcity mindset much? I think so.

From the examples provided, the phrase “Ooh, that’s too weird” was the most triggering as I had a situation with my parents recently in which my mom said the words “Weird is not good, Ben.” She has been so convinced of the conventional paradigm that anything outside of it, especially coming from her kids, needs to be put to an immediate stop. In that moment, I didn’t respond to my mom using the vocabulary of the conventional and natural paradigm, but I did encourage her to remember our family’s Armenian and Jewish heritage as examples of how our ethnic and cultural traditions were considered “weird” by the Ottoman Turks, Nazis, and several other dominant groups who developed a practice of using the proudest elements of our culture against us to “other” and separate us from themselves as the dominant and “correct” way of being. Sadly, the years of living comfortably within the conventional paradigm to escape the terrors and trauma of what came before have made her immune to such a reminder. What I try to do instead is lead by example and say “this is my path” by sharing how proud I am of our heritage. One moment I will never forget stumping my parents was when I said “I’m a gay, Armenian, Jewish man. Billions of dollars and millions of people actively worked for years to ensure that no single person could ever say that sentence out loud. So now that I am here, am I supposed to hide in a corner and pretend that’s not who I am? Or, do I stand up proudly and honor the sacrifices of those who came before me and created the path to a future in which I could share these words with you right now?”

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