Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Search Of Tipping Points for 2012

Earlier today, I was listening to Malcolm Gladwell's audiobook, Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference. Coming smack right into the new year, I couldn;t help but try to personalize what tipping points can be in my life for 2012 and beyond.

For a tennis match, this could be the pivotal single point during 3 gruelling hours of playing where the ball just grazes the line, whereas half an inch more it would have been out. Remember Novak Djokovic's go-for-broke-I-don't-care-if-lose forehand stroke at match point vs. Roger Federer in the 2011 Wimbledon semifinal? Because it went in, Novak won the semis from a break down, then won the Wimbledon final  and rode that momentum to also win the 2011 US Open.  That single stroke was worth millions of dollars more for Novak and a hefty loss of endorsement value for Federer.

Other tipping points in sports could be the last second shot in a basketball game, the late game intereception in football, the goalie slip in soccer or the knockout punch in boxing. It could be the freak injury to your best player, the unfair call of a referee or a shot that should have gone in but didn't.

If you are more the scientific type, the tipping point could be the last calorie of heat at the latent heat of vaporization that instantly turns liquid to gas. Or, it could be the last ion that turns your litmus paper from blue to red. It could be the switch that turns on the light, or the last vibration that causes a bridge to collapse. It could be the ignition point that causes a forest fire or that point before the heart machine shows a flatline. The tipping point may be a referral that gets you the job.

At the start of 2012, I now search for tipping points for my personal and professional life. What are those little things that can make a big difference? Perhaps I would get some clues from my tipping points in 2011: malicious rumors from a colleague, my digital marketing degree earned 1 year earlier, negotiation skills honed from listening to  audio CDs, my sick mom's needs, a multinational job process,  the love of my sweetheart wife and the daily challenges of raising 3 teengage kids.

Tipping points produce both good and bad short term results. But as Steve Jobs said in his famous commencement speech, the dots do connect sometime in the future and then life makes sense.