Two Keys for Creating a Tipping Point Toward Positive Change

tipping point illustration

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Creating a “tipping point” towards positive change requires that you recognize need for change and then develop a plan of action to tip movement in a positive direction.

In our professional lives, in particular, we create tipping points unconsciously that usually move us in directions we do not want to go, but we have the power to consciously and positively change directions.

We all want to be thought of as more than competent in the workplace and in the classroom.  That said, our personal concept of competency may not parallel the definition of competency used by superiors, colleagues or those we supervise.  So, what can we do to try and ensure that our reality mirrors others’ reality of us?

The first key is recognizing that we all have blind spots; areas that others can see that we cannot.

A great explanation of this concept is the Joharis Window Model.  The Johari Window is a simple and useful tool for illustrating and improving self-awareness, and mutual understanding between individuals within a group. We can see some of its key concepts if we think about the following:

Change is defined as “the act or instance of making or becoming different.” Change happens when an object or idea is pushed forward until it reaches the tipping point.  Malcome Gladwell, in his bookTipping Point, talks about how little things can make a big difference. Gladwell defines a tipping point as "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point". The Tipping Point is the moment that a shift in momentum happens.

So, the “Tipping Point” is that moment when an idea or behavior spread like viruses do:  fast, with ease, and almost unconsciously by a group of people.  To consciously “make” this happen, one usually uses a combination of strategies, executed over a period of time that changes minds, alters ideas and secures votes. Getting to the point where you can consciously invite change to happen?

The first step to change is “Think Different Thoughts.”

Norman Vincent Peal said, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”  The first step toward change is to believe that change will happen.  Our belief in the possible provides the foundation for building a plan of action.

I often tell students I coach, “First you think it - - - then you feel it.” 

Take a moment and test this concept.  Think about a difficult situation you recently encountered at school or on the job.  What are you feeling in your chest, stomach, head, neck and extremities?  Did you feel the physical signs of stress, anxiety, sadness or maybe even anger? Now, do the opposite and focus on something that happened in those environments that made you feel great.  Acknowledgment from manager and colleagues for a job well done, receiving an award, bonus or raise, or even securing a promotion. Can you feel the tension you created through the first exercise fading away? 

Change begins with believing that positive change will happen!

The second step to change is to, “Take a Different Action.”

As they say, madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Ponder this a moment to see how often you – indeed, we all! – have been a participant in this particular form of madness! If you are wanting something to be different, or wanting to create change, the change has to start with you.

Why is this important lesson for leaders?

First, recognizing your blind spots and having a willingness to receive feedback from others, has the potential of helping you learn about yourself and create a roadmap for success. Secondly, we shouldn’t underestimate the influence we can have on others and others can have on us.


About the Author: Teri Grier is a part-time instructor at Southwestern Oregon Community College and a nationally recognized Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation. She has over 15 years’ experience onboarding, training and managing teams. She is a graduate from Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies where she received a graduate certificate in Leadership Coaching.  In addition to her coaching credentials, she has a Master’s in Public Administration and a BS in Communications from Northern Arizona University.