Tipping Points

I grazed through a fascinating book of Elida’s called The Tipping Point. It looks at the anatomy of an epidemic — the cause of which can, depending upon interpretation, usually be determined by one small event or change. The resurgence in Hush Puppy popularity occured because a few people decided to wear them. The crime rates on the subways in New York declined steeply in the 80s due to a vigilante shooting the thugs who tried to rob him.

You get the picture.

Anyway, I skimmed over to the Broken Windows theory. New York decided to fight its crime by: 1) fixing the broken windows everywhere 2) painting over grafitti on the subways, and 3) enforcing subway fares.

The idea is that not paying attention to all of the above sends the message to criminals that the city doesn’t care about what they do and extends a free license to criminals to do whatever they wish. New York city officials decided to show that they did care and see what happened. They brought about mobile arrest stations to the subways, flooded the subways with policemen, lined up offenders, and whoa! — jackpot, policemen found that many of the arrested had warrants out for far greater crimes. Bingo!

Grafitti is a three-day process. Officials were instructed to wait for offenders to outline their art project, and then fill it in. As soon as they were done, out stepped officials with white paint and rollers to cover over their hard-work.

The kids were in tears.

And finally, officials were dispatched to fix all of the broken windows in New York to show everyone they did care.

Imagine the guts it took to focus on the little things while murder and mayhem was going on.

But it worked.

New York eventually achieved a status of Safest City.

I feel that “gysty” moment of “Aha!” 

I can apply this to my own life.

If I keep my sink cleared of dishes and shined, will my kids feel like its a crime to slop theirs in it?

If I clean my desk and treat it like a beloved workplace, will my writing improve? Will my ambition increase?

If I keep cash in my wallet, and share bits with others, will that improve the flow of money? If I dress for success everyday, will success come my way?

The possibilities are endless.

I’ve decided to pick a few small areas to make some changes:

1) dress better: I just got my hair done and I think it says to everyone, “I’m worth it. I have value.” Silly, I know, but I think I’m on the right track, here. I’m going shopping soon, too. Hand-me-downs might have a psychological impact on how I feel about myself.

 2) clean my workspace: I always keep my classroom clean, but my home desk is atrocious. I think that I’m saying my teaching has more value than my writing. Not true. I plan to fix that.

 3) clean a little everyday: I try to follow FlyLady’s Baby Steps, but I haven’t been very good at it. If I don’t be a good housekeeper, it helps the entire family to be “criminal-minded” in the way they treat it. I’m going to start to clean the house a little more everyday and change the psychological mindset that it doesn’t matter. It does. Order should be like air — all around us.

 4) Read: my mind matters. I never allow myself time for it even though it’s one of my favorite things to do. As a writer, I must read. I just need to clear my schedule for something so important to my well-being, both personally and professionally.

I’d love it if some of you would share some tipping points you decide to focus on.


1 Comment

  1. This answer is not well thought out it is sort of on a whim. I must say that since I started reading your blog, I am absolutely hooked. I check it everyday to see if you have written something new. I must say that our “ruined” vacation seemed to have a purpose. I am so glad that Kevin and I were able to stop and spend just a few minutes with your family. You have added so many good things to my life.

    My tipping points:

    1. I have started to be less vigilant about my FlyLady stuff and it shows around my house. This then creates extreme tension, irritation, etc., when I get home from an exhausting day of work. My goal is to make sure my sink is shining again and to start following other FlyLady steps. When I wake up to the shiny sink and come home to cleaner house I am so much more patient.

    2.Writing and working on my future goals. I remember setting goals of everything I wanted to do by the time I turned 30. Then when I turned 30 I didn’t set any new goals. I want to write a new set of goals for 40 and start achieving them. Maybe then the feeling of not having things to work for will dissipate.


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