Few weeks ago while biking to work my everyday route something caught my attention. This something was a bulldozer standing on the field left from the bike path. I saw it already on the days before. It was proudly chattering working on the field, doing its job. But on that day – it was just standing quiet and one of the windows was broken, obviously with a throw of the stone. Next day, all windows of this bulldozer were broken. And now you can guess what? Yes, there are no windows at all anymore in this machine. That little story reminded me the “broken window theory” (1), which my friend Olesya introduced me last spring, when we were walking and suddenly were standing in front of the house with broken window. And all around this house looked somehow…sad.

<The term “broken windows” refers to an observation made in the early 1980s by Mr Kelling, a criminologist, and James Wilson, a social scientist, that when a building window is broken and left unrepaired, the rest of the windows will soon be broken too. An unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, they argued, and so breaking more windows costs nothing. More profoundly, they found that in environments where disorderly behavior goes unchecked—where prostitutes visibly ply their trade or beggars accost passers-by—more serious street crime flourishes.> (2)

“Broken window” is only one example and metaphor for a signal, that nobody cares and more destruction or disorder can be done. It made me think about all the signals, which I send and which I follow in my everyday life.

Do I “repair” the “broken window” which I see or do I “break” the further one?

When you see that the kitchen sink is full with dirty dishes, do you just put your used cup to it, making more mess? Do you clean up only your cup? Or maybe you take care that in 5 minutes kitchen looks tidy and does not invite for making it dirty?

When you see the garbage on the floor – at home, in the office, on the street - do you feel no compunction to throw some rubbish too? Or do you put it quickly in the next trash can?

Vogue can also be a kind of “broken window”. When you observe some behavior which is obviously unsustainable / harmful for the planet, like for example someone is driving a fancy car with the low energy-efficiency, do you follow it buying such a car too to be in vogue? Or do you set your own trend, caring about the nature and choosing more sustainable greener ways of transportation?

When you hear someone complaining, do you support? Or do you look for what can be done to solve the unpleasant situation instead?

You can play with the metaphor of “broken window”, speculating on many examples in everyday life, checking conscious your own perception and behavior. When you see a “broken window” next time, remember it is a signal, and you have the choice how to react.

SMALL STEPS MATTER, so do the SMALL SIGNALS TOO. Which signals do you send, which signals do you follow? Maybe it could be your todays thinking exercise, resulting in some good actions for the better world around you : )


(1) http://www.influenceatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/BrokenWindowsArticle.pdf

(2) http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/01/economist-explains-18

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory