water park bucket dump

Tipping Points

Theres a beautiful Recreation Center in our community complete with a ginormous indoor swimming pool geared to kids and families. One of the cool water features in this pool is a contraption that sits way up high. Picture this as a kind of huge tree sculpture where the brancheshold big, brightly colored buckets.

water park bucket dump

A trickle of water is constantly pumping up through the center trunkslowly filling the buckets, drip by drip. The buckets are attached in a way to be wobbly, appearing to be precarious and ready to blow any second now.

For what seems like forever, a bucket will just sit there, teetering as it fills with water. Of course its great fun for the kids who swarm in the water below because they know that at some point, just one more drop of water will be too much, making a bucket tip over, dumping its contents on them.

Its that moment between a bucket handling its contents and the next drip of water that pushes it over that author Malcolm Gladwell calls The Tipping Point.

The tipping point is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point. Its when the possibility of sudden change is realizedfor good or for bad.

In business the tipping point can be that moment when just one more person shared the video causing a product to go viral.

Our older son Jeremy and his buddy Bruce, experienced a tipping point the day in 2000 they released their homemade video sensation (on a $300 budget), 405 The Movie. To this day it holds the distinction as the first original viral video of the internet agefive years before there was Youtube.

Overnight, 405 became a media sensation. That year, film critic Roger Ebert referred to it as,The most famous short film in the history of the Internet.That tipping point drew a line for Jeremy, separating before and after. It changed his life, launched his career and successful business.

Tipping points are not always the precursor for a super fun time in a big swimming pool or the point at which dreams come true. Tipping points can signal a downward spiral that culminates in more of a nightmare. Ive personally experienced such a tipping point, the memory of which and the aftermath will live in my mind forever. I will never forget the day, the hour.

It didnt happen quickly. I worked on filling my water bucketwith an ever so slow trickle of unpaid credit card debt for more than 12 years. It wasnt a trouble -free time, but somehow if the bucket began to wobble too much, Id figure out how to stabilize it enough. allowing the trickle a bit more time. I always thought that somehow Id figure out what to do about it. Id console myself that it wasnt that bad.

But then one day, one hour, one minute in time, the trickle landed one more drop than the bucket could hold. That was it. My tipping point.

With one huge mighty dump, it hit and nearly destroyed me, my husband, our familyour lives. Emotionally, it knocked me out, sending me into a deep, dark pit of despair. Id filled that bucketwith more than $100,000 in unpaid credit-card debt, a failed business and other untold personal unsecured debt. Our house mortgage was four months in arrears, scheduled for foreclosure.

My tipping point should not be confused with my turning point, which I experienced that day in Sept. 1984 when I made a personal, secret promise that would go on to completely change my life. I promised to repay every penny of the debt Id createdno matter what it would require. I would do anything to do it, too. And I did.

It took 13 years, and I can tell you that we made it. We celebrated our unsecured-debt free day in 1994. In 2014 we made the final payment on our mortgage. We repaid every bit of our debt and what a journey this has beenand continues to be every single day of my life!

I do not regret my tipping point. It woke me up to the truth that little things can make a big difference. It pushed me to my turning point and for that I am eternally grateful.

Question: Have you experienced a tipping point. We’d love to read about it in the comments below. Please keep it brief, concise, and exciting!



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6 replies
  1. Kris V. says:

    Thank you for everything you do Mary. You give me hope that all will turn out ok. I too have to remind myself that God is hear to provide us with our own skills to comfort one another, be generous and most important, be truthful so that we have the courage to belive in that truth.Your story is an important message to hear especially today.

  2. Judy Bergman says:

    I’m so proud of you, Mary! What a blessing your story has been to so many and has helped so many to turn their lives around! God bless you!!

  3. Elizabeth Ann Schaeffer says:

    Thank you Mary for that inspiring story. Hopefully it can help another person to make that same pledge and live more freely in the future


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