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Paradigm Fulcrum: The Tipping Point of Change

A paradigm is a unique lens a person views their world built through their experiences and influences over their lifetime. Capra (1997) constructed a dynamic systems perspective of paradigm, which he defined as, “a constellation of concepts, values, perceptions, and practices shared by a community, which forms a particular vision of reality that is the basis of the way the community organizes itself (p. 6). I like the paradigm perspective of a constellation since there are so many inputs available to our constructs. Another consideration is that our paradigm, whether as an individual or an organization, is ever-evolving as we have new input.

In my research, I wanted to determine how change leaders using a method called Appreciative Inquiry (AI) knew they had an impact on their clients (Davis, 2019a). What emerged from this work was there are only three ways that an impact is determined: a cognitive change, a paradigm change, or a behavioral change. Before changing paradigm, there must be a cognitive change. Then, the person or organization can make behavioral changes. (Davis, 2019a, 2019b). Baker (1992) defined paradigm as a set of rules, whether written or unwritten, that establishes or defines boundaries and tells people how to behave inside those boundaries.

As I pondered how to move people past thoughts (cognitive) to action (behavior) the question came to me about the fulcrum or tipping point, that is needed to shift their paradigm and motivate action. This idea became the Paradigm Fulcrum © (Davis, 2019a, 2019b) concept. The Paradigm Fulcrum is the “thing” that initiates personal and organizational change. However, what is it that tips the fulcrum? I began to look closer at cognitive changes and realized there are two parts to a person's cognitive framework. First, is what is called doxastic logic or how they feel about something; perception is the reality. Second, is epistemic logic or how they think about facts; how they frame what they know to be true. A person will interpret facts based on how they feel about what is known.

Understanding this separation of cognition, or logic, made me start wondering if this could be a factor for people when hearing a motivational speaker (Davis, 2019b). Sometimes people will hear a motivational speaker, get all charged up from the presentation and change their life. Other times, they get all charged up from the presentation and make no change in their life. A recurring statement from my study participants referred to the ‘palpable shift in energy in the room' when providing services as a way they knew a change was occurring. I wondered where that difference came from and began digging into the concepts of energy and learned about energy types, energy dimensions, and energy directions as they relate to thriving, engagement, and flourishing. Motivational speakers are generally high energy and can energize others during their presentations but what is the step that makes them transformational in their connection with others. If energy is transferable as in this example of the motivational speaker, then what is it and where does it come from?

As I dug deeper into this reasoning I realized the idea of energy as a form of emotion. “Feeling is what you label as anger, sadness, joy or fear. It is your interpretations or thoughts about emotional energy that give it meaning” (Stokes & Ward, 2012, par.3). Further research into this idea brought me to the research of Fonagy and Allison (Fonagy & Allison, 2014). They described mentalizing as "the capacity to understand others' and one's own behavior in terms of mental states" (abstract). They described mentalizing as a generic way of creating trust in the authenticity and personal relevance of interpersonally transmitted information. Mentalizing constructs new understandings of one's social relationships and their behaviors. They profoundly stated, "the very experience of having our subjectivity understood – of being mentalized – is a necessary trigger for us to be able to receive and learn from the social knowledge that has the potential to change our perception of ourselves and our social world" (Fonagy & Allison, 2014, p. 372). This trek led me to understand that developing emotional intelligence is the key factor to change, whether individually or organizationally.

Emotional Intelligence is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. A very simple definition of emotional intelligence coined by (Nelson & Low, 2011) is the ability to think constructively and act wisely. Helping people and organizations develop these skills is the fulcrum that pivots them into positive, transformative change for personal and professional achievement, the Paradigm Fulcrum. It is my mission to help others with emotional intelligence through Appreciative Inquiry methods to develop their skills of thinking constructively and acting wisely in all aspects of their life.


Capra, F. (1996). The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems. New

York: Anchor Books.

Davis, K. K. (2019a). Determining Impact of Appreciative Inquiry: A Case Study - ProQuest.

Retrieved from


Davis, K. K. (2019b). Exploring best practices among appreciative inquiry practitioners for

determining impact. AI Practitioner, 21(3), 66–91.


Fonagy, P., & Allison, E. K. (2014). The role of mentalizing and epistemic trust in the

therapeutic relationship. Psychotherapy, 51(3), 372–380.

Nelson, D., & Low, G. (2011). Emotional Intelligence: Achieving Academic and Career

Excellence (2nd ed.). Boston. MA: Prentice Hall.

Stokes, H. and Ward, K. (2012, August 28). Emotions are energy: The bodymind connection

and e-motion. Retrieved from energy/.

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