Shifting Your Come-From

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An ADD Coaching Basic Skill


Photo of a keyboard on which the shift key has been doctored to read "paradigm shift"

Clever photo courtesy of askpang via Flickr

In the Coaching world, the term “come-from” is used to refer to and describe the point of view and basic assumptions underlying any particular individual’s language or behavior — his or her world view, you might say.

Come-from is one of the most important underlying concepts in coaching.

Why?  Because where you stand to view the scenery determines what you are ABLE to see.

We humans seem to like to keep score, collecting “evidence” to validate our core beliefs.

  • It isn’t just that we see what we look for.
  • Come-from alters perception.
  • We interpret what we see based on our come-from — what psychologists call “confirmation bias.”


The term “shift,” or “paradigm shift,” as languaged by Stephen Covey in Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, refers to a change in perspective.

A shift involves a change in context that alters how you perceive events, communications, and behaviors.

It also alters your feelings, behavior, and language in the process.

Shifting relies on language, and lies within the province of language, but it would be a big mistake to view it as merely a trick of language.

Beyond Semantics

I am talking about something much larger than semantic arguments
and “positive” advice like:

  • Just TELL yourself you are successful!
  • You ‘ll never be successful if you don’t expect to be successful!
  • Or, worse, language that might as well be saying,
    “Be grateful for whatever small examples of success you have in your life,
    there are so many who do not have even that much.”

That kind of thing is less than useless and makes me want to scream.

•  I am not suggesting that you deny your reality;
•  I am encouraging you to examine the source of your reality.

When we make a shift, we actually change our experience of life, simply because we have changed our expectations — by virtue of the fact that we have shifted our come-from.  I’ll give you an example to clarify my meaning.

Evidence and Come-From

A photograph of surgeons operatingIf Dr. Barbara Smith believes she is one of the best heart surgeons in the country and her patient’s heart stops as she is operating on him, she will quickly mobilize her best efforts in a manner that respects the nature of the emergency, yet is focused and clearheaded.

While no doctor is unaffected by the death of a patient under her care, reminding herself of something along the lines of the idea that no matter how meticulous her surgery, not everything in the universe is under her direct control, Dr. Smith is able to continue the surgery with no loss of confidence in her abilities.

If Dr. David Jones were to find himself in that situation, only too aware of the limitations of modern medicine (and his own), his unacknowledged fear is quite likely to cloud his strength of purpose.  His patient’s heart stopping in the middle of surgery would no-doubt further undermine his confidence.

  • Whatever the outcome of the operation, Dr. Smith’s belief would probably be that she had done exactly what she had been trained to do, confident that she had done what any well-trained surgeon would have done.
  • Dr. Jones would probably assert that he had evidence supporting his lack of belief in the reliability of modern medicine and the effectiveness of surgical intervention that would further reinforce his paradigm, even if the patient ultimately made it through the operation with flying colors.

Both doctors are able to come to completely different conclusions from the same evidence!  Until Dr. Jones is able to make the shift that Dr. Smith has already made, he can only gather more evidence to support his position.

Three Steps to Shifting your Come-from

As you look at the evidence in your life, remember that your conclusions were shaped by your come-from.  You can’t look at the evidence itself to decide whether something was, for example, a success or a failure — because your conclusions will be colored by your come-from as well as your expectations.

If you hope to experience greater success, experiment with the following:

  1. Examining the come-from that has created your current level of success
    is an important first step – whether you are wildly successful already or
    limping through each day.
  2. Shifting your come-from, which will involve reframing the evidence and
  3. Banishing all “I told you so” retorts from your former paradigm.

Stay tuned for future posts in this thread that will give you a little coaching on how to DO that!

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Challenges Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed them above or don’t see them below)

Related articles around the ‘net:

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

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  6. Erich says:

    I register this ‘come-from’ concept as the total ‘baggage’ of life experience, much of it focused on sheer survival and self-protection. Seems like shifting it might be the equivalent of organizing a messy room (& possibly just as challenging!). BTW, MGH, the random avatar icons from Word Press sure seem grumpy, most times!


    • LOL re: avatars. Grumpy design team, I guess.

      I like your take on ‘come-from’ – but don’t remind me about having to organize my messy rooms (plural – still reeling from being unexpectedly forced to move, following three months with my dominant hand immobilized). I won’t be sad to see 2014 go, that’s for sure!!!

      For ME, btw, the cognitive reorg is MUCH easier than anything in the physical world. Given my personal Challenges Profile, I struggle with the worst of them – maybe more, since I am SO aware of the extent to which disorg can take life hostage.

      Nice to see YOUR name in the comments list! I hope things are great with you.

      I need to go out of town to pick up my Christmas PUPPY 😀 – so if WE don’t connect before, HAPPY TURKEY DAY!
      xx, mgh


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