Reilly was in another world.
To be more accurate he was drifting over the sandy shallows that stretch between Mollys Rock and Birchall Point. There was a fresh south-westerly wind whipping a tipsy wave and there was a kind and warm sun with just enough light. The surface of the water was peppering with a fresh hatch of frenzied mayfly. Hemingway, at his literary best, couldn’t have described such perfect fishing conditions.
It doesn’t matter how experienced an angler you are there is always a charge of inexpressible tension and anticipation that proceeds the hooking of a fish in perfect conditions. Every sense of Reilly’s was heightened like a tightened bow in anticipation of that moment when a wild Corrib trout erupts from the depths of the lake and takes your bait.
‘Mr Reilly. Please describe your most meaningful paradigm shift.’
He was returned unceremoniously to reality and to the impersonal and soulless surroundings of a corporate training room. Reilly hated these courses that he was forced to attend, given by academics with brains to burn but with little real life or business experience, and almost no sense of humour.
‘Well I’ve had as many shifts as the next man’ said Reilly, clearly at a loss for an answer, and struggling to buy a bit of time to gather his thoughts and muster a fitting response.
The giggle and laugh from the rest of the class did just that and Reilly rose to this bait.
‘I’ve had slow shifts; rushed shifts; passionate shifts; and of course a good few romantic shifts. I even once had a shift in the back of a pony and trap en route from Cill Ronán to Cill Muirbhe.’
‘But to be truthful with you, I can’t say I’ve ever had a paradigm shift.’
As the class erupted in laughter the Tutor and Reilly despaired of each other in equal measure.
Some months later, on a quiet Sunday morning, Reilly was returning on the 7am Dublin-Galway train.
He’d spent most of the preceding twenty four hours celebrating Ireland’s victory over the old enemy and he was now as sick as a small hospital. Mercifully the train was almost deserted and Reilly hunkered down to get some badly needed sleep.
That all changed utterly in Tullamore.
A man arrived in with four kids aged from about three to ten and they were ballistic. They were shouting; they were roaring; they were fighting. And all the while, the man just stared out the window at the uninspiring Bog of Allen, and literally did nothing.
Reilly managed to keep a lid on it until one of the kids started pegging paper airplanes at him and laughed gleefully when one connected with Reilly’s eye.
Reilly had it. He marched over to the man and bending closely to his ear so no one else could hear him he said.
‘Now listen carefully to me. I’ve had a brewery load of porter over the past day and I’m in no mood to tolerate the ructions your kids are causing. Now are you going to talk to them, or am I?’
The man looked kindly at Reilly and said.
‘Their Mother died a few hours ago in Tullamore Hospital and I just don’t know how to break it to them.’
Reilly understood for the first time what a paradigm shift was.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a paradigm shift as ‘an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way.’
Our response to the pandemic requires us to have a paradigm shift in the way we think about ourselves; our way of life; and our business.
‘A simple paradigm shift is all it takes to change the course of your life forever.’
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life by believing its stupid.’
— Albert Einstein.
- What paradigm shifts do you need to have as a person and as a business?