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Tipping Point

09 November 2012, 10:00

Put on your thinking caps. Let’s start with defining two phrases central to this article namely, tipping point and critical mass.

Tipping point is the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development. The term is said to have originated in the field of epidemiology when an infectious disease reaches a point beyond any local ability to control it from spreading more widely. A tipping point is often considered to be a turning point.

In Physics, Critical Mass is defined as the smallest mass of a fissionable material that will sustain a nuclear chain reaction at a constant level.

Critical Mass can also be defined as an amount or level needed for a specific result or new action to occur.

In other words, loosely we can say that critical mass is defined as an amount or level needed to reach a tipping point.

And that is where we start from.

When I started my blog, I had no idea I would write fifty articles. I did know though, that I wanted to reach 5000 hits before even considering retirement from blogging. So when I reached that target, I took a break but something strange began to happen. The blog hits continued to climb. It seemed I didn’t need to do anything more to keep the traffic coming to my blog; it had become self sustaining. In other words, it reached critical mass. I have a clean 1000 hits unaccounted for!

The principle of critical mass is one of the most crucial elements that you must master and utilize to your advantage in life because many times it gives birth to another equally important but more spectacular phenomenon; the tipping point principle.

With that in mind two issues promptly develop; where you are now and where you want to be. It is possible that in some cases you find yourself just wanting to reach critical mass. You are not looking for anything spectacular or sensational. All you want is to reach that level of equilibrium where you have a balanced ecosystem, so to speak. This is very likely when you are starting out building new ventures like family, business, church or any other. At the beginning you are not necessarily looking for tipping point. You are looking for critical mass.

But the thing about critical mass is that it takes time to accomplish. Critical mass requires you to take a million small steps, day and night and in some cases year after year, till one day you realize you have achieved it. Small dreams do not require a lot of time and effort to reach critical mass. It is the truly great ones that will demand every drop of sweat you have before they give you critical mass.

And because of that, it is far easier to walk away than to stay. What do you do when you have sat the whole night and you just haven’t got any more strength to continue yet critical mass seems so far away? Are you going to catch a power nap and wake up after a few hours, dragging your battered body back to work for another day of trudging towards critical mass or you will hear the alarm and chose to remain in bed because the load is just too much? You know what? You are right. It’s too much and you will never reach critical mass. But the other guy in the other bedroom is getting up and doing what he needs to do so that when you wish you had stayed the course, he will be doing what he wants to do.

What makes achieving critical mass tricky is not knowing when it will be achieved. The question of when to stop will actually answer itself. Some people have gone on till their death trying to reach critical mass and never achieved it. Others have achieved it in a relatively short space of time. Do you quit or you stubbornly continue? No one can give an answer to that. It boils down to what you believe on the inside. As long as you believe in it, it is always time to keep on keeping on. In other words don’t jump ship as long as you are still convicted in your heart that this is what you should be doing.

Thomas Edison tried 10,000 before finding the right combination to create the first light bulb. I bet after 9000 times a lot of us would say, “Hey, it’s time to face reality. It’s time to quit.” Right now there are trillions of light bulbs in the world used by everyone in every corner of the world. We don’t need Edison anymore, to invent the bulb. Bulbs don’t need him no more! That is the power of critical mass.

And so I look at my own life and assess my achievements. I look at the things that break my heart and those that warm it. I pay attention to my losses and revel in my victories. I look at where I am at and compare with where I want to be. One thing becomes clear. For me, it’s not just critical mass I am looking for. I believe I have achieved it. My life is stable. I feel like everything is where it should be. Every department of my life is poised for the next phase. Positions have been taken and guns have been corked. Anything can happen any moment now. I sense the tension in the air. All the facets of my life are pregnant with expectation. I just can’t wait a second longer. I get ready to pull the trigger to usher in…tipping point.

Tipping point is that point where you might have achieved critical mass and everything is working as it should but you just know you are due for or really need a complete and irreversible reaction in your life. Life will never be the same again. It is tipping point that ushers you into the next phase of your life. It is that one action, the last is a sequence of many that just tips the scales and triggers everything you have dreamed of and more. And I am saying I smell it in the air. It’s my time to experience tipping point!

The mistake that we make is focusing on the tipping point and not on the process before the tipping point. When we see the explosion, naturally our attention is arrested. No one is there to witness the guy who worked the whole day to mix the chemicals and make sure the conditions are right. We look for the guy with the detonator and we make him an instant hero. And somehow we begin to believe we can reach tipping point instantaneously. That is a fallacy.

Tipping point is a result of innumerable and focused decisions that we will make till we reach critical mass and then things tip for good in our favour. The people who have happy marriages; do they have happy marriages because they are so full of love for each other or because they put in the hours and the hard work that might not necessarily be fun to do but necessary for the marriage they want? They plan holidays and save for them the whole year long. And they achieve critical mass.

And so it is with business. You advertise yourself. You pump money into your business. You work long hours. Maybe you can even breakeven but you are not quite making the kind of money you know you want to make. You can stay where you are or you can put that extra effort relentless until you get that one phone call that will change your life for good. We all know that phone call. It is sweet when it comes but extremely nerve wrecking to wait for.

So life gives us plenty of reason not to continue. It give us plenty of reason to continue. The difference is what you choose to see. What project are you working on? Is it getting tough? Do you feel like giving up? Keep on keeping on. Join me and other visionaries as we keep putting in those little grains of sands that will one day tip the scales in our favour and change our lives for good. It might be closer than you think. It might just be one more grain before you reach your tipping point!

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