One of my favorite books is Thomas Kuhn’s, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn dives into how new ways of thinking emerges. There’s a lot here, and it can be directly applied to any change project, including personal change.
The author says that we tend to think of our current worldview as based on a steady uphill climb of achievements and accomplishments. In other words, we imagine the history of science as an incremental stockpiling of insights and breakthroughs that have led to this moment. But, he says, if you closely examine what science was like “back then,” before we had today’s clarity and understanding, you discover that it was not a linear process. In fact, it was grounded in serendipity and the worldviews of the practitioners, which may be anything but what we know about the world today.
He writes about how important relationships are. For the scientists who contribute to our worldview, you begin to see how influential shared opinions in a community that includes teachers, friends, antagonists, and other people working in the same field. These are world views of earnest explorers operating without the benefit of today’s knowledge. Many of their worldviews were, in fact, antithetical to the way we know the world to be today.
So, if you’re thinking about how to transform yourself (I always am; it’s a major preoccupation of mine), then it helps to see that what got you here today is not necessarily a steady sequence of breakthroughs, but a more happenstance collection of activities… and the people you hang out with, listen to and read, have a lot more to do with how you think today than you might imagine.
If you want to accomplish something big this week, find someone who likes to ponder the same type of big things and spend some time with them!
“Instead of me having a breakdown, I’m focusing on me having a breakthrough.”
– Terrell Owens