Inflection Points

Inflection points can help you to create a great future if you recognize and use them to your advantage.

One of the primary components of critical thinking skills is asking tough questions. And, critical thinking can be used to look inward or outward.

This section will address what questions to ask to improve your life. These are internal questions.

To answer these questions you will use many of the same critical thinking methods and concepts discussed in other places on this website. You will also be introduced to other powerful methods and concepts.

Why do you change what you do in life? In other words, what causes you to venture out from your comfort zone and consider a new career, outside activity or venture?

The answer is that most major changes in life are cause by events called inflection points. This point is an event that changes how you view the world, who you are, or your life in general.

Think 9-11. People in the United States felt safer before that day. After 9-11 we realized our vulnerability to terrorists.

There are many inflection points in our history. For example:

In early 1776 Thomas Paine published a 46 page pamphlet called Common Sense. It helped inspire the writing of the Declaration of Independence and motivated a nation.

The book was written for the common man and was estimated to have sold 120,000 copies within three months of publication and 500,000 copies within a year. It is worth noting that this was in the United States when there were only 3 million people—and many couldn’t read!

John Adams and others had been arguing for the United States to become an independent nation. The release of Paine’s Common Sense was the inflection point that spurred the nation to become independent.

Thomas Paine knew that the time was right to inspire the people to take action. He argued convincingly that the young nation had to make a choice for independence now—not later.

Paine explained that within fifty years the personal interests of individuals who would acquire status and money by then would resist such a change. And, the colonies would be more established and would also resist such a change. 2, 3

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” ~ Thomas Paine


Change in life is usually gradual. But, turning points have great power to change you. Most inflection points will start with a single decision.

Years ago I made a decision to get a Masters of Business at Pepperdine University in California. It was an inflection point that changed my life positively in many ways.

I studied longer and harder when I worked for my master’s degree than any other time in my formal education. I took on the challenge because I had ownership in my education.

It validated the thought that we are more motivated when we have a vested interest in what we want to accomplish.

It all started with a decision to further my education and marketability.

Most positive inflection points that occur in people’s lives that start with a decision. Examples are:

• Deciding to stay in high school and graduate
• Deciding to go to college
• Deciding to buy a home
• Deciding to be committed to being financially secure
-o By not allowing excessive dept
-o By studying and investing wisely
• Deciding to start a business
• Deciding to continually grow as a person
• Deciding to be a good critical thinker

Everyday you make other less impacting decisions. However, they all have consequences. Each decision you make, each path you take, each risk you take helps to define who you are and who you will become.

Investing the time to think through, investigate, weigh options, and then choosing your decisions carefully creates a better life.

“Either do or do not; there is no try.” ~ George Lucas

2 Jed Graham, Founding Father Thomas Paine Investors Business Daily, June 7, 2006, p.A4.

3 Paine, Thomas. Common Sense (New York, Barnes and Noble Books 1995)

Return from Inflection Points to Preparing for the Future