This month marks the ninth anniversary of what was to be the millennium meltdown. Y2K was going to cause the world’s computer systems to crash, sending trains and planes off course, the fresh water and sewage systems to fail, and the entire banking and monetary network to be lost forever. You may still have some of those jugs of spring water around to remind you of how silly the whole thing became.
It is important to remember such chaotic times, because we find ourselves in another situation during which we may come precariously close to allowing the media, and the subsequent public panic, to cause us to act irrationally. This time, however, it is the economy that has caused such a stir. The volatile stock market, the bank bailout, the crisis in the domestic automotive industry, unemployment, the crazy up-and-down price of gasoline – all are enough to drive even the most focused among us to distraction. Those sound like pretty solid reasons to panic. But panic, negative reaction, or resorting to the ostrich method – putting your head in the sand and hoping it will pass – do nothing to help. In fact, these reactions can lead to what sociologists refer to as “the tipping point,” the level at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable. The ruin of the banks during the Great Depression became the tipping point for the most disastrous economic crisis in the world’s history.
A friend gave me a book, “The Tipping Point,” by Malcolm Gladwell, and it describes many incidents in which tipping points can produce wonderfully positive results as well as negative ones. The phenomenon that human behavior can become so easily influenced is why we still talk about the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, the many suicides in Jamestown, Guyana, and to a certain extent, even political races and the changing styles in the fashion industry. We cannot react to the weakened economy by withdrawing, becoming pessimistic, and beginning to do business from a defensive posture. This year, resolve to stay on the offense, create new things, play loose, and you just might be the catalyst, or tipping point, for economic recovery where you live.