Within the past day or two, I’ve finished the audiobook: Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell. Tipping Point is a book that presents a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. If you haven’t read this book, I highly encourage you do, as well as his other two books: Outliers and Blink.
In Tipping Point, Gladwell talks about the “Broken Window Theory” as he shares a story about why the crime rate in New York City dramatically changed in the mid 1990′s.
There was a major crime problem on the subways in New York City. The subway cars were covered in graffiti, they were dirty, and everyday commuters were getting hassled on a regular basis by panhandlers, bums, and homeless people. Long story short, over the course of 6-10 years, they removed all the graffiti from cars, put the resources in place to ensure the cars stayed clean, and they stopped the harassment by the panhandlers, bums, and homeless people. They quickly started to see the crime rate decline. Gladwell’s explanation is the “Broken Window Theory”
Broken Window Theory
Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.
What this says to me is an environment creates a culture that influences attitudes and behaviors and continues to attract like attitudes and behaviors. Because it appeared that no one cared for or respected the subway cars it attracted careless and disrespectful attitudes and behaviors. When they intentionally changed the environment the culture started to change. As the culture changed, so did the attitudes and behaviors it allowed and attracted.
Environment & Culture
Think for a moment about your personal environment and culture. They can be the ones you live in or the ones that live in you!
- Do you have any “Broken Windows”?
- What kind of attitudes and behaviors are they inspiring?
- What kind of attitudes and behaviors are they attracting?
- What do you need to do to fix them?
Personal Leadership is knowing our external and internal environment and understanding how that affects our personal culture. We must know when we have “Broken Windows” and we must fix them.
We know what will happen if we don’t!
What attitudes and behaviors will you attract by 30?