White Paper on Regeneration’s Significance — Part 4: Challenges of Elevating our Paradigm

Wrong Paradigm and Wrong mind at Work

Carol Sanford
7 min readMar 14, 2019


Photo by Mikito Tateisi on Unsplash

Incomplete and underdeveloped aspects of the mind creates greed, defilement and cruelty toward life in human and nature forms, and fosters degrading governing processes and make their reversal difficult to achieve. I have identified fifteen mental processes that I think might have fit Einstein’s definition of thinking processes that were used to create the problem, shortfall or destruction, which he is cautioning us to avoid. To grasp the work we have to do, listen for these in the language of endeavors with good intentions, where you will frequently find these mental aberrations from the three lower paradigms, particularly the lower two. They provide real time assessment of the mind that is work that created the problem Einstein points to.

  1. Fragmented thinking versus systemic (source of externalized costs) — breaking into smaller and smaller parts thus losing the living whole.
  2. Flat thinking versus ordering/perspectives (source of many laws which harm life) — that is, seeing two sides or multiple sides but no ordering in those sides. Just polarities or categories. All on the same plane.
  3. Fixed thinking versus developmental (source of ranking against one another) — seeing people as static and unable to change.
  4. Homogenized/equivalency thinking versus quintessential/embodied — that is, we make everything interchangeable and relativistic, with no value difference based on impact or potential.
  5. Standardized/conformity thinking versus specificity precision. Proscribing the boundaries as generic for all of a type and inviting everyone to conform through certifications or evaluation of others.
  6. Commodified thinking versus differentiate- seeing entities as of the same value and low at that. For example, workers are interchangeable, as is land, and uses of a forest.
  7. Habitualized/predictable thinking versus immediate relevant thinking; thought experiments, imaging on specific situations from different windows — putting all activity into a procedure that is to be followed by everyone identically without variation.
  8. Secure/comfortable thinking versus innovative/inventive thinking — staying within familiar processes for how we work on things so that we feel comfortable with the way of working.
  9. Scalable thinking versus nodal thinking — assuming that growth is about scaling bigger and that is the only or at least primary measure of success.
  10. Transactional thinking versus beneficial mutualism through thinking endowments, beneficialism, caring, inter-beneficialness (charity). Seeking to get/gain something of equivalent value when we give something to someone. A quid pro quo.
  11. Ideological thinking versus realization/fulfillment — projecting our personal ideology onto another culture or people, or land management, without consideration of the uniqueness or values of those being impacted.
  12. Categorized/stereotypical thinking versus essence; putting living people/places into boxes that are based on perceived common characterizes.
  13. Remembering/rationalizing versus imaging something working (conceptualize complex processes at work) — drawing on memory of a person or place rather than being present with it and its unique characteristics in real time.
  14. Functionalizing — make it “a thing” or “a doing”. For example, a regenerative dashboard or list of practice; or making a list of ways of doing the thing.
  15. Existence thinking — looks at current existence and defining where we are, and then where we want to be. Rather than beginning with the energy patterns of essence embedded in a living entity. Then working to realize those rather than current existence which almost always includes some combination of the previous fourteen erroneous mental processes.

Climbing up the Paradigms

There may be times to engage in one or more of the fifteen undeveloped mental mistakes, but each are the antithesis of regeneration. If we want to follow Einstein’s advice we must ask, before, during, and after a thinking engagement, if we are doing any of the above aspects of mind that we default to without conscious effort. It is like a car started up in park and then assuming it will eventually move rather than knowing that we need to shift gears. We have to notice we are parked in a particular mind and mode of thinking. But we also need a methodology for how and when to shift. More on that in a moment.

First, an example: A dashboard that has a list of items to check off that are on parallel lines, either all the same importance, or even prioritized (fits numbers 1, 2, 14, and 15 from our list above, at least). It is not a system view. A definition of regeneration as a set of things to do, so they can have a metric attached, is not a regenerative practice at work. It is most often a choice between two or three things that are tradeoffs. A win or lose way of looking, even though it is not stated as such. As an exercise, examine your own favorite practices to see where mental processes from the outdated paradigms are present.

On the other hand, look at circular economy, and you will find thinkers taking the path to regeneration that follows Einstein’s own mind at work. It will take over 90% of the time just to get the mind working right, as it did for Einstein. But the payoff is a systemic reconsideration that changes how we can see the world, and how we can be effective in it.

Fascia Work: Personal Development Restraints to Shifting Minds

Here are twelve reasons why good people use bad thinking, and why they don’t build the capability to do as Einstein repeatedly calls on us to step up to. There are three modes of restraints. It is critical that we build capability to manage them in ourselves, and to create processes that enable others to develop this capability.

Reactive: Avoid being controlled and maintain independence.

  • Familiar: There is a level of comfort we gain from the familiar, based on our reptile brain wanting security. Without managing that brain, we default to the familiar, But this is a capability that has to be developed.
  • Protectiveness: When we are identified with something, an idea, a person, a role, we become protective of it and its rightness. We defend it with rational and emotional arguments, and often fisticuffs.
  • Assertiveness: We may feel a need to assert ourselves in a situation to be heard or taken seriously. It tends to block dialogue and the possibility of considering an alternative point of view.
  • Isolation: Staying away from people we think will try to influence us not in our favor or impose themselves on us.

Ego: Need to belong and be included, to be seen and remembered.

  • Hope: Pursuit of hope based on our own beliefs, philosophy and principles for a life well lived
  • Discriminating: wanting to exercise choice over what to be influenced by
  • Creative: manifest material outcomes, problem solutions, and valuable ideas in arenas for which we feel accountable and want to leave a legacy
  • Accomplishment/recognition: achieve personal goals and aims

Purpose: Inability to see a place to contribute and a way to embody a purpose which we take as our purpose.

  • Stewardship: for that which is not for personal gain but we do it for the good of the whole
  • Fulfillment: from the ability to help others accomplish their work and find meaning
  • Transcendence: to rise above our own pettiness and energy drains with higher order aims
  • Wholeness: taking into consideration everything that makes up, sustains and evolves the wholes impacted; courage to be rigorous and precise in discernment

There is developmental work to do on each of these restraints. Again, it is an education process, this work. People needs to be guided in reflections, in order to take up the mantel, using the higher order nature of regeneration and what it promises. This is possible if it done with the full meaning of the concept and the new mind is developed that can work this way.

A Foundation for Our Work — Recommendations

  1. Move from organizing to ordering as a place to begin, and to continue. Make our work about lifting up the level of thinking we have about regeneration as primary and organizing of the community as following from that. See our work as a paradigm problem.
  2. Commit to a living systems paradigm for working with regeneration, less we collapse to the same mind that created what got us here.
  3. Develop a framework for seeing the order of paradigms and how they are nested and the role of living systems understanding of regeneration for focusing the way to do our work.
  4. Develop an assessment instrument and process that engages every organization and person in self discovery.
  5. Build an education process for how to shift paradigms in an organization by developing the mind that can conceive and pursue the living systems approach to all work done in the name of regeneration.

The Regenerative Paradigm Institute is on this path and looks forward to partnering in this ambitious and meaningful gathering of minds.

Summary of White Paper Concepts

  • Take up Einstein’s Charter with intelligent examination
  • Adopt a living systems view (not nature view) of regeneration
  • Honor, rather than merely coopting, an indigenous living systems framework and first principles
  • Organize to lift up other’s thinking through an education process
  • Design education and action from a living systems theory of change versus a Newtonian worldview
  • Build the capability to work at this level of mind and institutionalize the process in perpetuity
  • Be intolerant of our own laziness and ego runaway, thereby building the methodology to support others in this discovery

About Carol Sanford

Carol Sanford is a regenerative business educator, the award winning author of The Regenerative Business: Redesign Work, Cultivate Human Potential, Achieve Extraordinary Outcomes, and executive in residence and senior fellow in social innovation at Babson College. She has worked with fortune 500 executives and rock star entrepreneurs for 40 years, helping them to innovate and grow their businesses by growing their people. Learn more about Carol and her work at her website.



Carol Sanford

Sr Fellow Social Innovation, Babson |# 1 AmazonBest Selling/Multi-Award Winning Author | Regenerative Paradigm Educator