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REATE YOUR TIPPING POINT IN BUSINESS: How to tap into this principle to propel your business from Drowning to Thriving.
When I first started my business I knew nothing of the tipping point. I just blindly flung myself into the trenches willy nilly. A no-strategy approach that resulted in making just enough money to cover my mortgage …and sometimes not even that. There were times it seemed nothing could save my business, short of a miracle. And I saw no miracles in sight. When everyone around me said it was hopeless, I didn’t give up. I just couldn’t walk away.
And then it happened, almost out of nowhere I had reached the tipping point. My business sailed almost by itself. I could easily quit my ‘day job’ as a UCLA university professor and let my business take care of the rest. The years of panic-stricken struggle and self-doubt seemingly melted away almost overnight.
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I had experience the tipping point before, first hand, in my life but had not understood the dynamics nor that it is an almost secret universal law.
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I came across the power of the Tipping Point by pure chance at age ten. Since then I‘ve discovered its amazing power at work in business and beyond. Once aware, we can harness its mysterious force.
Let me explain: when I was a kid I trained in swimming competitions with kids several years older than I. So when we were on vacation in Saint Jean De Luz at Southern France’s Atlantic coast, I swam out into the ocean with confidence. Though only 10 years old, I loved the rough sea and the excitement of the foaming waves. On this particularly stormy day though, when I tried to turn back to the distant shore, my confidence left me. I had never heard of much less experienced the deadly power of a rip tide. I swam with all my might only to find myself be washed out to sea, the safety of the shore quickly receding further back with ever desperate stroke forward.
I distinctly remember the moment when I realized I was fighting for my life. And I was losing the battle. I knew I was drowning. And there was no one to help. I was alone. There was no beach guard at the coat. Later, I found that the only other swimmer in the ocean that day, a grown 40 year old man had drowned. His dead, lifeless body washed up on the beach.
There was nothing, not my training nor confidence, that could saved me. Or so it seemed.
To this day, I believe some guardian angel or higher power was watching over me and helped me gain a different awareness. I changed my strategy. I used my strength. The same strength that had only gotten me further away, washing me quickly further out to sea and threatened me with certain death. But, I used my strength in a different way. Instead of fighting with all my strength against the overwhelming might of the ocean, I started to work with the power of the ocean.
My strength was quickly waning but I found another power, that of attuning my mind to the rhythm of my near deadly environment.
When the waves rolled forward I applied all my might to gain momentum and every inch I could win to carry me along with the wave further to the shore. As the wave was receding, threatening to rip me further back out, I applied every ounce of my strength just to keep my position. Not to lose and inch was all I could think and focus on. In that moments I was no longer trying to gain momentum forward but to just to stay my ground. Until the next wave rolled in and I maximized its forward propellent.
It saved my life, I inched myself forward with every inward wave and held my ground with every backward pull that followed. At first it seemed an impossible task but I kept with it. The only alternative was give up and drown. There was a moment that is still etched in my mind, I had reached the Tipping Point. I knew I was going to make it. I had overcome the deadly riptide, I wasn’t quite at shore yet but I knew I had reached the point where everything would work for me. I reached a point where I was the master of my destiny and life again, and not the powerful plaything of an unpredictable and vast ocean.
Once I felt the sandy beach under my feet. I had no strength left. I only felt the exuberance of having made it. Despite past physical exhaustion, I felt elated by a sense of absolute triumph. It is an experience that stayed with me my entire life.
I learned not to give up. But I also learned to not just rely on my own strength but work with the powers around me rather than against me. The deadly foe, the power of the waves, became a saving grace as I started work with it’s rhythm and tapped into its potential to carry me towards my goals, my destination.
It only occurred to me years later, that in business the same principles apply.
The power of the tipping point can either carry us out to drowning or turn us toward our destination. It all depends on how we align our strength and ability to its force.
Here is where science and the mysteries of the universe intersect.
Let me explain. The Story of the Monkeys and the Yam.
Perhaps you have heard of the story scientists observed on a remote Japanese island inhabited by a tribe of monkeys. The monkeys enjoyed eating their yams which they would eat: sandy dirt and all. Until one day an inventive female monkey decided to wash her yam in water before consuming it. She liked it and from then on regularly washed her yams since it made for a much enhanced eating pleasure to eat a sand-free yam.
For quite some time she was the only monkey who had discovered this secret. Then her mate decided to imitate her and do the same. Slowly, other monkeys adopted the new technique until finally all monkeys on the island washed their yams before eating them.
Here is where the mystery of the tipping post comes into play: once all monkeys washed their yams on this particular island, mysteriously the monkeys on the other islands all of a sudden also adopted this technique. Though they had no contact with the monkeys on the original island. This continued until finally all the monkeys on all the islands in the region followed suit. 60 years after observing this phenomena, the monkeys still practice the innovation.
No one knows how the knowledge of this technique crossed islands since there was no physical contact. Scientists just observed the principles of the tipping point.
Harness the power of the tipping point in your business.
Two (actually three) of the principles:
1. Keep doing the small, even incremental things, over and over again and do not give up, even when it seems impossible to reach your goal.
2. Almost the opposite of point 1: instead of doing the same things over and over again, gain an awareness of the environment and the powers you are dealing with. Then do the same things but work with rather than against these powers.
3. Just like the original monkey, once you reach a tipping point in your business, others benefit from what you are doing as well. There is a higher vision at work for the benefit of others as you reach your own goals in business and in life, it creates a tipping point where it becomes the new normal for the benefit of those around you.
And this is perhaps one of the most rewarding principles, the true magic of the tipping point. While we win personally, we simultaneously win for all of us. Kind of like the Olympic Games: the winner takes back the Gold not just for her or himself but for their entire country and the entire global community. Once we break through to the tipping point, we reach for higher ground for ourselves and for others.