The Big Quit: The Paradigm Shift

By Lisa Slayton, reprinted from The Tamim Journey.

This is the seventh in a series

“Work is the inside made into the outside…With the right work, the relationship to that work and the mystery of what is continually being revealed to us through our endeavors, we find a home in the world that eventually does not need debilitating stress, does not need our exhausted will and does not need enormous amounts of outside energy constantly fed to sustain it. “

David Whyte, Consolations

“We need to shift our paradigm.”

This phrase became core to “consultantese” in the late 1990’s and 2000’s as change management was developing into a practice. It became so overused that for a time it really lost its meaning. Everything from a new copier to a complete strategic direction change was labeled a paradigm shift.

A true paradigm shift happens when the basic assumptions by which we operate (and have considered unshakeable) are being tested and new evidence is emerging that contradicts those assumptions.

A good and obvious example is the shift made in scientific theory from the Ptolemaic system (the earth at the center of the universe) to the Copernican system (the sun at the center of the universe). The earth orbits around the sun, not the other way around. When this paradigm shift occurred after nearly 1500 years, it changed everything and took a long time for people to adjust.

Paradigm shifts are most often thought of in terms of scientific discovery – the basis by which we view the world is contradicted and new evidence emerges that requires us to change our most basic assumptions.

Interestingly, one of the few synonyms for paradigm is metamorphosis. And it’s pretty clear, the paradigm for the caterpillar – its basic reason for being, to eat and grow – is shifted to something entirely different in the chrysalis.

During our own journey, as we venture out of the chrysalis with soft wings and a new shape and form emerging, we have begun to see our world quite differently. Much work has been done on the inside that has prepared us for a whole new set of possibilities on the outside.

Our paradigm has shifted. Our beliefs about who we are becoming and what we are to do in response are grounded in a very new set of beliefs and assumptions that are still taking shape.

Collectively we have been through a paradigm shift since the spring of 2020. While the pandemic was the catalyst, there were many other seismic events that layered on in the ensuing months that challenged many of our individual and collective beliefs to the core.

One major paradigm shift underway is our beliefs about calling, career and work.

#TheBigQuit was a massive reaction to the paradigm shift in the world of work but as we’ve suggested throughout this series it has been just that, a reaction. And what we really need is an internal paradigm shift that allows us to respond from a whole and healthy place rather than react from an anxious and fearful place.

The basic assumptions behind the reaction:

  1. More meaningful work is out there – my job must provide my meaning and purpose
  2. I am a product of my circumstances
  3. Change the circumstances, things will improve

We see from the (trans) formational journey that those assumptions simply don’t hold up. The inner work of self discovery and self regulation are at the core of the shift we must make, otherwise we will be prone to casting about without a great deal of intent as our circumstances change. And change they will.

#TheGreatResignation shifted to #TheGreatRegret and now a new trend is emerging called #quietqutting.

#QuietQuitting is a new trend emerging to describe people who are not actually quitting their jobs but rather rejecting ‘hustle culture’ and centering their work lives in more sustainable way. From a recent Wall Street Journal article:

Not taking your job too seriously has a new name: #quietquitting.

The phrase is generating millions of views on TikTok as some young professionals reject the idea of going above and beyond in their careers, labeling their lesser enthusiasm a form of “quitting.” It isn’t about getting off the company payroll, these employees say. In fact, the idea is to stay on it – but focus your time on the things you do outside of the office.

I am not sure I see this as actually quitting, but rather a growing group of people learning to be more intentional about their time and energy, setting healthy boundaries. NPR’s Amina Kilpatrick describes it like this:

Closing your laptop at 5 p.m. Doing only your assigned tasks. Spending more time with family. These are just some of the common examples used to define the latest workplace trend of “quiet quitting.”

Some experts say it’s a misnomer and should really be defined as carving out time to take care of yourself.

The world of work has gone through a significant paradigm shift over these last two years.

Have you done the hard work of examining your own deeply held beliefs about work, calling and career? It is easier for while to take the path of least resistance and just float along. As we dive in and ask ourselves hard questions our paradigm must shift.

What if #quietquitting is just the outcome of a significant realization that we need a new way of understanding the role that work plays in the rhythms of our lives. Dave Evans and Bill Burnett offer a powerful tool in their very helpful process called Designing Your Life. It is a simple dashboard the debunks the myth of work life balance.

Rather, you look at key areas of your life- work, rest, relationships, play,  and health and assess where you find yourself in each area, and then identify small steps you can take to get healthier in one or two of the zones. It is tool we use regularly in our coaching practice that helps set and reset daily rhythms.

This is not quiet quitting. It is wise and requires knowing yourself well, making better choices and developing the behaviors and habits to support them. There are seasons where we invest more energy in one area for very good reasons. It is easy to get stuck in those patterns that they may no longer serve us. 

I that much of the cycle we have seen in the last two years around work and life is a massive and collective reset of these rhythms. If that has occurred for you through a formational process such as we have offered in the series, then you are on the road to integration and wholeness. If you are simply reacting to your circumstances, then nothing much has changed and you will drift along the path of least resistance.

There is hope – it is always possible to move towards a way of working and contributing that is good for you and good for the world. To learn more schedule a 30 minute introductory call with Lisa by clicking here.

We will conclude this series with the “Integration Season.” To read the full series, start here with the first post.

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