18 July 2014

The Seagull Effect…?

Posted in Youth issues

Most of us have heard of the ‘Butterfly Effect’, but not many of us would know that this influential theory started out as the less catchy ‘Seagull Effect’.

In 1961, Edward Lorenz was entering data into a weather prediction program and mistakenly entered 0.506 rather than the longer and more accurate 0.506127. The abbreviated entry resulted in a completely different weather model, and Lorenz marvelled at the incredible difference one small change could make to the larger outcomes within a defined system.

In a later paper on the subject, he commented that, “one flap of a seagull’s wings could change the course of weather forever”. Over time, the analogy morphed into, “the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil could set off a tornado in Texas”, and the ‘Butterfly Effect’ was born.

Whatever the label, the core principle of this theory remains the same: that a seemingly small and insignificant action in one part of a system can become sufficiently amplified to bring about large-scale, high-impact change. The truth of this theory has been affirmed time and time again, across a wide range of fields.

It is affirmed in our everyday lives when we change a thought here or a habit there. It is affirmed when we give of our time for just an hour or donate a few dollars toward a worthy cause. These seemingly inconsequential actions can lead to changes in ourselves and others that we had not imagined.

At SU QLD, a little goes a long way. Your volunteer time or your donation may not always seem like much when pitted against the magnitude of need, but it makes a big difference, sometimes in ways that we could never have predicted. We hear story after story about how the little things our volunteers, supporters and staff do, bring about life-changing transformations.

So go ahead, flap your wings and see what happens next…

Steve Forward

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