Hello world and welcome back!
I recently finished The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The book is broken into three primary factors that can make ideas spread like epidemics - the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Law of Context. In short, they are divided as such:
- Law of the Few: the importance of a select and identified bunch in propagating a message efficiently and effectively
- Stickiness Factor: The low-level properties that constitute a core message and the adaptations to make a more lasting impact
- The Law of Context: The contextual, environmental factors that lead to certain decisions and actions
The thought for this week stems from this over-arching concept of a personal threshold in accomplishing most anything - the book describes the process of information spread, but the concept is fairly common across any process that we undertake. Personally, a few examples that come to mind include the process of digesting difficult material for a test in school, finding confidence in posting publicly, and even understanding my personal Fifa strategy. Each of these processes might follow a fairly linear path, but at some point, there is often (at least a slight) fundamental shift in mindset, which can likely be described as a personal tipping point.
The three factors noted have varying level of importance in individual pursuits and there are undoubtedly many others specific to certain endeavors. The point that stuck with me was the self-awareness of fundamental changes (positive or negative) that emerge when working towards something, and the specific factors that caused them.
There are many examples that come to mind, but a more impactful and lasting ‘tip’ came after my sophomore year of college. I came into Vandy as an Econ major (/completely undecided?), and while I knew I wanted to try something different, I truly had no idea what. I was genuinely convinced after my intro Java course I had no place in that tech world, especially when surrounded by the high school programmers who came in with apps built and hacked iPhones. I remember coming home for Fall Break freshman year with nothing but stress about an upcoming exam - if you are familiar with functions, I could not for the life of me understand how a parameter worked. Fitting that I ended up getting my worst grade in college during that class.
As much as I hated the outcome, there was this strange desire to do more, in a way to leave CS on a better note than I just had. So I took core class #2. Again, not perfect, but 20% more confidence, 40% more enjoyment. Took #3, discrete structures. I told my professor at the end of the first lecture I didn’t understand a word of the material she had just covered. She said to stick it out, which I did, and actually ended up enjoying that course (she also went on to become my advisor). At the same time, the Econ major was still quite a burden, especially with the many other liberal arts core classes required. Following my first semester of sophomore year, I met with my current advisor and another older peer studying Chem Eng. on whether I should and could go all in for the CS major. My advisor gave me the incredibly insightful advice of 'doing what was right for me’, and that employers would understand if I told them I took some CS classes. My peer said to quit while I was ahead.
I (semi) regretfully trudged on to give it one more shot. Next core, Intermediate Software Design. Our professor told us on the first day that this was usually the 'weed out’ class, but getting through it also meant the potential and ability for a major. Luckily, I took it with my current roommate, who kept me sane with intermediate software puns. S/O Max :)
I did get through the class, and for the many iterations of confusion, his words at the beginning of the class did serve as a means for continued progress and perseverance. It was a form of validation of what could be done, and looking back, a clear tipping point that guided me to a double major. I don’t think I realized that point until I was close to completion of the major, but if there were specific moments that caused that threshold, it can likely be traced back to those few words in the first class.
A bit in the weeds, but personal and true. My challenge for myself in the coming weeks, months, and years is understanding the large and small processes I’m part of, what the path forward looks like, and realizing of the tipping points that do define a changed future trail.
Ad That Makes Me Happy
I added the background song to last week’s instrumental form, and I’m sure that sparked the thought of this ad. The more time without live sports the more nostalgic I get.
Game I’m Playing
This might be a new one for many of you, but Carrom - this is a staple in many Indian households, and we recently brought ours back up. It is essentially a finger version of pool with a few adjustments and additional rules. Stings your finger too if that’s something you like
Dad wiped me clean.
Quote on My Mind
“When making plans, think big”
“When making progress, think small”
Quote by James Clear. Think they can get deceptively easy to confuse.
Thank you all for reading! If you need any more incentive to stay indoors, Asian Murder Hornets have entered the US - According to TIME, “They attack and destroy honeybee hives, entering a “slaughter phase” where they literally decapitate bees and take the hive as their own, using the thoraxes from the dead bees to feed their young.”