Hush Puppies had mostly disappeared. Sales of the comfortable shoes were down to 30,000 pairs a year, sold in small town outlet stores and mom and pop shops.
But then something strange happened. Between late 1994 and early 1995, sales shot up to 430,000 pairs. The next year four times that amount was sold. And the year after that sales went even higher.
What shot Hush Puppies sales to the stratosphere? Marketing campaign? New design? Famous spokesperson?
None of the above. Here’s what happened. A handful of kids in the East Village and Soho sections of Manhattan started wearing the shoes simply because no one else was. Others in the clubs and bars of the area saw them, wanted them, and more were bought.
Manhattan designers—seeing the local popularity of the shoes—began using the shoes in their shows. Before anyone could see it coming, sales skyrocketed and Hush Puppies were once again a staple of the young American male wardrobe.
Malcolm Gladwell recounts this story and explains what happened with the title of his book, “The Tipping Point.” Hush Puppies passed a certain point of popularity, a point he calls “the tipping point,” and sales took off.
Gladwell says there are three principles present when the tipping point occurs.
- First, there is contagious behavior that begins with a few.
- Next, there are little changes that have big effects.
- And finally, the changes happen in a hurry.
We live in a “want it now” culture. And in our “want” we have missed the importance of small things that make a big difference. Jesus put it this way in a story he told.
The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.
Small beginnings did not frustrate Jesus. He expected them. He knew that if a few got the small things their lives would change. They would become big lives that could help others. Connected to other big lives, a kingdom would be expanded.
Focusing on the “big” end result can keep us from making the “small” changes now that will get us there.
Doubt creeps in. Negativity stifles creativity. We become overwhelmed and immobilized instead of organized and energized.
What are the small things you need to do that will make a difference? Find those. Stick to them. And watch for the tipping point in your life.
Question: What is one little change you can make today that could have a big effect in your life?