The Paucity Paradigm
Bill Cottringer

“Usually the first problems you solve with the new paradigm are the ones that were unsolvable with the old paradigm.” ~Joel A. Barker.

Way back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve did something that contaminated our thinking and the language we invented to express it, in effect, reducing abundance potential in half. I call this the paucity paradigm. It is a way of looking at life and such a powerful paradigm creates artificial enemies and conflicts between us vs. life, us vs. others and even us vs. ourselves. Taking that treacherous bite of the apple from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, divided the whole universe in half, resulting in an infinite series of opposites. This list is solidified with seemingly opposite-sounding words like male vs. female, good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, up vs. down, slow vs. fast, rich vs. poor, inside vs. outside, intelligent vs. ignorant, union vs. separation, surviving vs. thriving. desirable vs. undesirable, spirit world vs. material world, and so on.

Now the trouble with adopting this paucity paradigm, is the usual outcome of putting all your eggs into one basket and then falling and breaking them all at once, just like Adam and Even did, metaphorically or maybe even physically. Now we have broken shells, scrambled eggs and even wars over the artificially created dualistic this and that things, made real by further either-or categorical judgments. The division is verified every day when day turns into night and then back into day again, when we finish work with time left over to play and then sleep and wake up again, and when we look in the mirror and see our separate ourselves from everything else including the mirror.

Here is a much simplified way how things generally work: We select a particular viewpoint to look at things (usually where we are at the time, for convenience). This perspective or beginning paradigm in turn produces a particular perception which results in thinking, beliefs, emotions and choices, and of course the outcomes you end with from all these interactions. A very good question to ask—and creative people are better at asking the good questions rather than finding the clever answers—is the following one. Am I at the best viewpoint to see the whole truth of the big picture or am I just seeing a half-truth of a smaller picture and being deceived into thinking it is a whole one for sure? As Stephen Covey warned earlier, getting to the top rung of the ladder you are climbing is not a very propitious time to notice you have placed your ladder against the wrong building.

So, if you haven’t gotten to the top rung of your ladder quite yet, it may be a good time to question the perspective you currently have which is driving all your perceptions, thinking, feeling, beliefs and choices. After all, if you don’t like what you currently see, then just consider moving viewpoints in place or time. That is even easier done than said! Is it a paucity paradigm cheating you from the rest of life or are you wisely situated in the middle ground where you can see in all directions and not miss half of the view? Can we return the universe to wholeness by putting all the halves we have disassembled, back together again? Isn’t that a noble idea worth considering? All it would take is following the profound advice in the book “The Shack.” That is to see the damage we do with our quick judgments of all the this vs. that pronouncements we make, resulting in winners and losers, and sometimes losers and more losers, and start forgiving all the wrong judgments of which we have all been guilty of engaging. If this wholeness is the end-game reality of life, then why are we hesitating and delaying doing what we can choose with our free will—the abundance paradigm? Or is this just another half- truth paradigm shift in the universe’s ever-evolving creative process? That is probably the question of our generation.

I think what we are up against here is the obvious imbalance between the many of us who are too busy trying to just survive life breathing, and the lucky few who manage to thrive and fly into the sky. How do the success shadow-makers do it? They have a secret and it has a lot to do with their paradigm from which they communicate it and make their choices. They simply spend a little more time being accepting, tentative, free, sensitive, spontaneous and equal and conveying those qualities to others, in enabling people rather than disabling them. This way of being and communicating avoids the opposite qualities that Jack Gibbs earlier identified as causing a lose-lose defensive climate of communication—judgement, certainty control, neutrality, strategy and superiority. This is also what the John Nash character in the movie “A Beautiful Mind” was trying to contribute to economic game theory with a possible win-win outcome from cooperation instead of the traditional zero-sum game played in competition.

It may turn out that escaping dualism is not possible, maybe because similarly, justice is just a way to repair injustice so to speak. But at least doing what we now know leads to thriving, is probably a sensible way to help more people get there in abandoning their ineffective paucity paradigms they inherited from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

“If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.” ~Stephen Covey.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security Patrol, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, Adjunct Professor at Northwest University, and former President of the Washington State Security Council. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and “Reality Repair Rx” (Authorsden). He can be reached for comment at 425-454-5011 or