Book: The Tipping Point
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Review By: Sister L
My desire to read through the pages of Islamic books took a unintended turn when I stumbled upon ‘The Tipping Point’ and as I ventured on reading more than the daily dose of political affairs. It has always fascinated me how social change takes place, one of the driving factors behind my current studies in political science. Opening the pages to ‘The Tipping Point’ by Gladwell really tipped the scale of thoughts in my mind. The pages are embedded with stories of powerful change and failure in the causes of social epidemics – where societies are transformed and the phenomenal changes start with one person. Coupled with humour – which made me smile from ear to ear and supporting research case studies in the journey to explaining what it takes to go beyond the ‘Tipping Point’ with one’s message, made this book both a joy and gripping read.
Perhaps one of the most resounding messages of this book, is something we take for granted: that it always is the little things which make a big difference. Gladwell urges us to think beyond the ordinary and delve into the extraordinary. Great things always began small right? The drop of a small matchstick can be the cause of great fire in a house. Gladwell focuses on the pivotal areas of societal issues such as crime prevention to viral plagues, to illustrate a story of phenomenal tipping points in societies. When many matchsticks are stuck together they form a bridge through which strengthen the matchsticks put together such that one can form it as a bridge and go across to the other side – that is The Tipping Point. Malcolm Gladwell provides an insight on the ways we can tip over the edge of the mountain from which we so often look from, not the boat we are sailing in. Gladwell makes a distinction between three types of people in his book, and highlights the characteristics of how it is that social epidemias tip over, he explores the monumental question of how some messages spread like a virus, whilst others do not. In it Gladwell carefully analyses the types of people needed in order to make a revolution, and as I gulped in every word [for this world is in need of change] I wondered how amazingly true each was, and upon the reflection of the way in which the message of Islam spread since each of the companions, May Allah be pleased with them all, due to their noble qualities and traits to match and exceed those of any ‘Maverick’ and ‘Salesman’.
‘The Rule of the Few’ can be stuck up on the wall of every company; organisations and businesses I know can vouch for the success of their organisation due to the determination of a few. It takes a few, and indeed in our way of life too it was the few dedicated, devoted and sacrificing legacies that led to the sweeping over of belief in various parts of the world throughout Islamic civilisation. The Maverick is what every man wants to be as Gladwell explains– he is the guy with the insider information because as they say, knowledge is the key to power. Beyond that, the maverick in our social spheres are those who provide the content and without whom most business deals, most social movements, most ground-breaking ideas might just fall through. Being a maverick is coupled with the salesman, the one who knows the art of persuasion without having to practice. All this lends us the recipe of monumental change as: “we are all, at heart, gradualists, our expectations set by the steady passage of time. But the world of the Tipping Point is a place where the unexpected becomes the expected, where radical change is more than possibility. It is – contrary to all our expectations – a certainty“…
What one can gain from this book, is the reality of small acts making a big difference. It reminds me of the hadith: ‘Do not consider any act insignificant, even greeting your brother with a smile’ [Muslim]. Quite often we view the world to the contrary, we imagine it takes big to make changes, but is it not that from something so small as a seed which is planted the greatest of trees grow? In reflection, this book and its manifold lessons stick to the mind of whoever reads it, because of its resounding messages and the most key one of them all: it takes one small person in a big world to reach the tipping point, all you have to do is make sure the message tips over into the world… I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did, with the laughter and affirmation of truth in it, you will be smiling and nodding your head in sheer agreement with Gladwell as you sift through the pages, hoping and wishing in my heart throughout that the revival of this Ummah will occur as it is those small things that make a big difference.