November 11, 2011

One by One by One by One

For the last several years, there's a very popular book out called The Tipping Point by author Malcolm Gladwell. The basic premise is quite intriguing, as it is a research project of sorts on how trends are started, viruses are spread, etc. The byline reads, "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference". Truer words could not be spoken. Gladwell gives many examples of how the choices of one person can make an impact.

Just take an objective look at the early criticisms of Disney's California Adventure when it opened in 2001. Instead of rehashing such well known- and correct- observations about the park, the reality was longtime Disney park fans knew an inferior product when they saw it. It wasn't supposed to be Disneyland, but it wasn't a quality product either. There was a breach of trust and integrity in place of honor and honesty to this next generation park.

Conversely, when it comes to the remake of California Adventure, each new and individual park project that is done with excellence from start to finish has been met with enthusiastic response and the appropriate rewards it brings. World of Color has brought in the masses, and the soon to be finished The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, Buena Vista Street, and Radiator Springs Racers will no doubt do the same. Excellence is recognized and rewarded.

Walt Disney seemed to understand this fact inherently. His earliest creations may not have been the blockbusters he would later experience, but he never skimped on quality. Oswald was not Mickey Mouse, but he was not designed with any less heart or elegance. Disneyland begat Walt Disney World, and under the leadership of his brother, the complex in Florida continued on with the company's tradition of excellence one project, one decision at a time. The public knew they could count on Walt and his company to produce any entertainment product and that it would be available at a fair price. His reputation (and that of his family and company) was always at stake, and Walt did not underestimate the potential of his core audience.

You are no different than Walt Disney. There is only a difference in the individual situation, unique skills, and personal contacts. But the same opportunity to live with integrity and excellence is available to us. Think about what is important to you and live for that. If you stumble around because your decisions lead you astray, you can always start over, rebuilding your life and reputation one decision at a time. It is akin to building good habits and breaking ones you hate. One by one by one by one, we can and do make a difference. One person making one deicision to do right multiplies itself.

Mahatma Gandi's famous quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world" is no less significant because it is well known. Now, I am not a follower of the Hindu faith. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, God himself made flesh who came to the earth to die for the sins of all mankind and rose from death to prove His power over Hell. His disciples, those who walked this earth with him, believed in him and gave up their lives for him, turned the world upside down. Their amazing message is timeless and revolutionary.

Their choice to follow Jesus Christ resulted in following their convictions- and one by one by one, as word spread, individuals exchanged broken lives for freedom and hope in him. Christianity became a worldwide faith because of the One who first acted in obedience and in integrity- and then spread one by one because of the power He gave his followers as they did his work and spoke the truth about Jesus. It continues to live to this day, be it in postmodern America, secular Europe, or in Third World countries where the good works of man accompany the Good News of Jesus. Sure, it unfortunately doesn't always look like it did in the early days- and please do not get me started on that topic- but the message and character of Christ remains a life changing one to this day.

But back to you, back to me. Will you be the one, the one who chooses to live with integrity instead of taking the short way out? Will you be the one who is the example of living honestly for the common good when others look out only for themselves? Will you be the one who chooses to live knowing your decisions will impact many people as well as impact your reputation? As for me, I am trying. This is my heart: to live a life that honors my God and reveals who He is as others watch me. Sure, I do and will fall flat on my face at times. But as I humbly come to him, by his power, I can start over again one decision at a time. One by one by one.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)


sciortinodesign said...

Just had a timely read of your blog. Me and my wife were watching the Occupy LA protests today and I was lamenting how the only way there will be any change is outright revolt. Your post had me step back and look at it from Jesus' perspective. While he walked the earth, he only asked people to look inward first and change how they make the small everyday decisions. Leave this sin, turn away from that sin. One good decision leads to another. One by one.
And that had me see this Occupy thing as not as hopeless as before. If the protests change one mind, perhaps that person will change another. And then another. One by one.
Will it happen fast enough to save us from ourselves? Only He knows. But, He has given us the power to make it possible. As you properly asked: "Will you be the one?"
Thanks for giving me some encouragement today.

Mark Taft said...

Thank you for writing. THAT is my encouragement for the day- and I needed it!