Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: malcolm gladwell

Influenced? Yes, But That Can be a Good Thing

It’s me, folks, here to ring my own bell and say…

One hundred posts!

Wow. Who would have thunk it?!

Yesterday almost didn’t happen. I know numbers don’t mean anything specifically. Ninety-nine posts in a row is just as awesome, but there’s something about round numbers. You know?

Why did yesterday’s post almost not make an appearance? Because I started to get caught up in the idea that every post needed to mean something or be something great. That wasn’t my goal when I started. My goal was only to create the habit of posting every day and that’s what I’m succeeding at.

Now I’m wondering… What if I posted every day for a whole YEAR?!

And then I started to get a bit inside my head. I mean, it’s great that I’ve come this far. One hundred posts in a row IS an accomplishment, but when will I start writing better posts, ones that take more time and effort, ones that MEAN something?

I don’t know. Maybe this is all there is. And then this crazy feeling came over me…

That’s ok. I like this just as it is.

…sigh…

That felt so good.

Does that mean I’ll never do more than write posts about the books I’m reading and what they bring up each day? Not at all. I might submit an article to a magazine. I might write a book. I might even try to get the one I’ve written published, or at least posted here for download. And I’m moving steadily toward those things every day, but I’m completely happy with where I am right now, not sitting here brooding about what else I could have and do.

And THAT feels amazing.

Guess what else!

I finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell this morning and it was every bit as great as I had hoped. But here’s my problem. The book is listed as Non-Fiction/Current Affairs/Business, but that’s not what I was reading it for. To me, it feels more like sociology, and I’ve listed it as such in my book stats file because…I do what I want!

Some words from “Conclusion” are what made the book sociology and not business, in my opinion.

“The world – much as we want it to – does not accord with our intuition.”

“To make sense of social epidemics, we must first understand that human communication has its own set of very unusual and counterintuitive rules.”

“We like to think of ourselves as autonomous and inner-directed, that we are who we are and how we act is something permanently set by our genes and our temperament.”

“We are actually powerfully influenced by out surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us.”

“That is why social change is so volatile and so often inexplicable, because it is the nature of all of us to be volatile and inexplicable.”

And here’s my favorite part:

“In the end, Tipping Points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped.”

Doesn’t that make you feel powerful? You, your behavior or product or idea, could be the very thing that tips the world toward something better.

The whole book goes through examples of ideas, products, and activities that have caught fire and spread, and why. It’s not a book about how to market your product and get rich. It’s about understanding human nature better.

This book was originally written in 2000 and my edition was put out with an additional “Afterword” chapter in 2002. In it, he starts to reflect on our coming “word of mouth” age, where we can all communicate with each other freely and at no cost. He was talking about email but, of course, it made me think of social media.

“The fact that anyone can e-mail us for free, if they have our address, means that people frequently and persistently email us. But that quickly creates immunity, and simply makes us value face-to-face communications – and the communications of those we already know and trust – all the more.”

Remember when we first discovered Facebook? I do. It was just as I moved away from my hometown for the first time in my life. There I was in a new place, close enough to go visit home regularly, but far enough to make me look for new friends. And I open my computer and there were all the old faces and names for as far back as I wanted to go.

I spent hours scrolling through other people’s feeds, commenting, and sharing my new world with them. It was fun.

Why is it not fun anymore?

Malcolm Gladwell might say, “Immunity.” There’s so much that we can’t keep up, so we shut it down and move on. But we haven’t, have we? It’s all so complicated, but I closed the book thinking about it. I made some quick notes and wondering if I could write a better post about it. Put that in the idea file!

“Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink book cover on a desert background.

I’ve been looking forward to reading “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell since I pulled it, and a couple of its brothers, out of my friend’s personal library redistribution project back in December. I redistributed those babies directly to the top of my TBR pile! If you’re curious, I wrote a bit about that adventure at the beginning of January, “What Did My Book Blog Accomplish in 2020?”

The first book I read by Malcolm Gladwell was “Talking to Strangers” and it was far more than I expected the book to be. “Enlightening” doesn’t begin to explain it. He writes about complicated human behavior in a way that makes you feel like you’re discovering it yourself. You know you’re being led somewhere, but you don’t know where. When you begin to arrive, you feel like you’re the smartest kid for finding it. And at the end of the book, you’ve incorporated what he’s said into your thinking without feeling like you were hit over the head and dragged there.

The subtitle to this one is, “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.” It looks into all those snap judgements that we make, why we make them, and how can we harness that understanding. Those unconscious decisions we make so many times a day aren’t useless!

I’m only a chapter in this morning and I’m already thinking, “Whoa…THAT’S what’s happening!” It’s already confirming a few things for me, like why it was a good idea for me to stop watching the news and leave social media. It’s made me think about how I get my best writing done. And made me begin to rethink a few things that I’ve taken for granted.

“All that from the first 80 pages, Michelle? Really?”

Yes! He sets things up in an amazing way, expands on them over the bulk of the book, and then brings them all together in fascinating and useful way at the end. Like the Stephen King of psychology books!

Intrigued? You know you are! You can read more about Malcolm Gladwell and his books at his website. And if you decide to read the book, leave me a comment! As usual, I’ll be posting some quotes from the book along with my thoughts in the coming weeks. Be sure to subscribe to get them!


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