A person’s integrity is an attribute most would assign tremendous value to. Have you ever asked yourself where it comes from?
One way to explain the cause of a person’s integrity are paradigms, as written in the first chapter “inside-out” of the “7 habits of highly effective people”. The following is a brief summary of Stephan R. Covey’s point of view. Moreover, I let you know what I think of it. Enjoy!

the map analogy

Imagine you want to get somewhere. A map is a great way to find your destination. Now what happens if you got a wrong map.
You can improve on your “behavior” in terms of increasing your effort.

You can improve your “attitude” towards reaching your destination. Be more positive. Maybe being happy to end somewhere you never wanted to go.

In the end, you are lost. Because the map is wrong or not detailed and accurate enough.

We are seeking the most accurate, detailed and ultimate right map to not be lost in life.

Beside using our maps to map reality around us, there are other maps mapping how the reality should be (referred to as “values” in the book).

awareness of the map

Even though the map determines how we see the world around us: “Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world” – a beautiful cite in my opinion, it does not mean we are aware of it. Humans tend to think of things as they perceive it.

Reducing the so-called objectivity to the actual individual perception of humans based on their paradigms.
(My interpretation: Objectivity is different to all of us. If you claim you to be objective, that is true to you but not in general.)

become more objective

Being open to paradigms that are different from our own. Becoming more aware of paradigms and how they influenced our experiences. Become more sensible to conditioning as well as taking responsibility for our very own paradigms. 

summing it up

Paradigms tell us what is right and therefore impact our happiness and personal success. Becoming aware of our maps is the first step to actively “shift” them.


More on that in the next article – “the paradigm shift”.

my thoughts on that

Why I like to refer to paradigms as mental models

I do not totally agree at this point with the map analogy. I think of paradigms as a set of interdepend mental models. A mental model is an outcome of an interpreted experience. I do not think that the mental models necessary need to act as a map. They only become a map if we seek a purpose out of circumstances.


Generally, we only act to achieve a goal.


If that goals lacks the motivation of survival we act on the behalf of a vision. A vision is closely related to the “value maps” paradigms (or set of mental models). It sets the ultimate goal of our lives. Usually people refer to it as the sense of living. That is a human feature which separates us from animals.


We can act for a vision that is way greater than our own life. Suppressing survival needs and natural urges to move towards our vision. The mental model and their interdependency are indeed the grid on which our vision exists. But to perfectly honest, I am not 100% comfortable stating that our happiness and success depends on them because they’re dimensions in which we measure the move towards our vision.


Vision primarily is in my opinion not necessarily related to your experiences and resulting mental models. It is a child of our own human consciousness. It can be the search for answers, like where did we come from? Or it can be an urge out of a not statisfying environment that is created due to discovery of potential to improve (generally speaking). 


Acting towards that is directed by mental models which try to build abstraction upon of happenings or as scientists would call it – data. Data is around us. If we do this and that we get data as a result. Using the data to build reusable models can help us. It can even go as far as creating moral, because we check data of other humans against our own data and experiment which execution of which model gets the most satisfaction or least pain in multiple dimension.

So paradigms are associations we draw out of mental models. Telling ourselves that we “understand” something because we build a model which results have been often met with data.

Problematic is the sum (created overtime) of interpretation that fakes mental models. Because reality can be bend if you believe it. You end up believing in your bend (fake) data.
[ Well nowadays you can see that a lot. People actual believing = thinking something is true without facts. The fake data they rely on could be content from authorities for instance or prejudges.]


Align yourself with the mental models build on fake data and move towards a vision that is colliding with reality, you might or might not end up being lost.

I deeply correspond that improvement can only come out of awareness. So listen, even if the “paradigms” of others seem to be wrong. Understanding how people bend reality is valuable to help them see things from a different perspective and never ever become comfortable in your own “paradigms”.

What do you think about that? Let me know!