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The 2 Types of Growth: Which One of These Growth Curves Are You Following?

The 2 Types of Growth: Which One of These Growth Curves Are You Following?

We often assume that life works in a linear fashion.

People will say, “You get out of life what you put into it.” The basic idea is that for each unit of effort you put into a given task, you get some unit of return. For example, if you make $25 per hour and you work for two hours, then you’ll make $50. If you work for 4 hours, you’ll make $100. Put more in. Get more out.

There is just one problem: most of life doesn’t actually follow this linear pattern. Don’t get me wrong, hard work is essential. However, if you expect your life to follow a linear trajectory, then you may find yourself feeling frustrated and confused.

Instead, most areas of life follow two different types of growth. This is something I learned from my friend Scott Young. Let’s talk about these two patterns now.

Which one of these growth curves are you following?

Type 1: Logarithmic Growth

The first type of growth is logarithmic.

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Logarithmic growth increases quickly in the beginning, but the gains decrease and become more difficult as time goes on. Generally speaking, logarithmic growth looks something like this:

logarithmic-growth-curve

    There are many examples of logarithmic growth in daily life.

    • Fitness and Strength Training: The “beginner gains” come quickly at first, but then it becomes more difficult to get stronger each week.
    • Literacy: Children and young students make massive leaps as they learn how to read. Meanwhile, college students and well-educated adults have to put in a focused effort to expand their vocabulary beyond commonly used words.
    • Language proficiency: Learning how to speak even a rudimentary level of a new language opens up a whole new world. However, there are only meager gains left for fluent speakers to discover.
    • Weight Loss: It may be relatively easy to shed five pounds within a week or two, but then the progress slows. Each successive pound of fat loss is more stubborn than the last.
    • Musical skill: Improvements come quickly for a novice guitar player. Improvements come very slowly for a concert pianist.

    There are thousands of other examples. In fact, most skills (writing, programming skills, juggling, running, etc.) fall into the logarithmic growth category.

    Type 2: Exponential Growth

    The second type of growth is exponential.

    Exponential growth increases slowly in the beginning, but the gains increase rapidly and become easier as time goes on. Generally speaking, exponential growth looks something like this:

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    exponential-growth-curve

      You will also find exponential growth opportunities in daily life (although I think they are less prevalent).

      • Investments and wealth: Thanks to the power of compound interest, your retirement savings start out as a small treasure in the early years, but balloon in size during the final decade or two of savings.
      • Email subscribers and website traffic: New websites receive just a trickle of traffic here and there, but as the weeks and months roll on those trickles can build into a raging river of visitors and subscribers.
      • Entrepreneurship and business growth: The assets that you build for your business stack on top of one another and revenue compounds throughout the life of a successful business.
      • Social media followers: When you only have 100 followers, getting another 100 followers may take six months. Once you have 1,000 followers, however, getting the next 100 may only take one month. Once you have 100,000 followers, getting another 100 probably takes one day. Your growth rate snowballs.

      The Challenges of Each Growth Curve

      Neither type of growth is good nor bad. These growth patterns are simply the way certain things work. However, it is important to understand the growth pattern of your task so that you can set your expectations appropriately.

      Don’t expect exponential returns when you’re playing a logarithmic game. Similarly, don’t expect quick wins when you’re building something that has an exponential curve.

      When dealing with logarithmic growth, the challenge is to avoid feeling discouraged as your improvements decrease. Improvement will come easily in the beginning and you will become accustomed to enjoying small wins each day. Soon, however, those small wins will become smaller.

      Logarithmic growth requires you to have the mental toughness to play a game that will, by definition, become more challenging to win as time goes on. You will feel like you have plateaued. You will question yourself and your abilities. If you want to succeed with logarithmic growth, you have to learn how to fall in love with the boredom of doing the work if you want to maintain consistency as your improvements dwindle.

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      When dealing with exponential growth, the challenge is to continue working through the early period when you have little or nothing to show for your effort. Exponential growth requires you to be remarkably patient and diligent (often for years or decades) before enjoying a significant payoff. There may be 10 years of silence before you hear the sound of success.

      Equally important, you need to give your best effort even when you’re getting average results. Exponential gains only result from sustained effort in the early years.

      How to Accelerate Your Progress

      Once you understand the type of growth curve you are dealing with, there are two ways that you can accelerate your progress on a given curve.

      Option 1:

      The first option is to break the task down into smaller tasks that can be mastered more quickly. In other words, by getting very specific with the task you are working on, you can increase the rate of growth (i.e. smaller tasks have steeper growth curves because they are easier to master). This strategy works especially well for accelerating your progress on tasks that experience logarithmic growth.

      smaller-growth-curves

        Dave Brailsford’s aggregation of marginal gains is a great example of this. By improving every small task related to cycling by just 1 percent, Brailsford was able to guide his British cyclists to massive success. Mastering these small tasks led to incredibly fast growth.

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        Option 2:

        The second option is to play a different version of the game. More specifically, play the version of the game that has the highest growth curve. This strategy works especially well for tasks that experience exponential growth.

        Take entrepreneurship, for example. You could build a candle shop. All of the statements about exponential growth hold true for a candle shop. Given enough time and a good product, you could eventually produce candles at scale, develop new product lines, and otherwise build assets that lead to exponential growth years later.

        However, if you played a different version of the entrepreneurship game and started a software company, then you may reach the exponential growth threshold much faster. There are a variety of reasons for this: reduced overhead and manufacturing costs, faster industry growth overall, higher margins, and so on. The end result is that both companies have exponential growth curves, but one has a much steeper slope.

        highest-growth-curve

          The Bottom Line

          Most things in life have some type of growth curve and very rarely is that curve a straight line.

          Understand the type of curve you are dealing with so that you can set your expectations appropriately. And if you aren’t happy with the type of growth curve you’re on, then start playing a game with a different curve. (1)

          This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

          FOOTNOTES
          1. This article contains many of my own insights, but I want to make sure that all the credit for the two types of growth concept goes to my friend Scott Young. I am simply building upon his work.

          Featured photo credit: Stefan via flickr.com

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          Last Updated on August 20, 2019

          26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

          26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

          If you pay attention to your everyday life careful enough, you’ll know that you can learn from everything and everyone you come across. Our life is basically full of useful lessons that we should learn.

          Here are 26 useful things to learn that Abhishek A. Singh shared on Quora. Let’s see how these life theories would lead you to live a different life.

          1. Primacy and recency: People mostly remember the first and last things that occurred, barely the middle.

          When scheduling an interview, ask the employer the time slots they do interviews and try to be the first or the last.

          2. If you work in a bar or in customer service of any kind, put a mirror behind you at the counter.

          In this way, angry customers who approach you will have to see themselves in the mirror behind you and the chance of them behaving irrationally will be lowered significantly.

          3. Once you make a sales pitch, don’t say anything else.

          This works in sales, but it can also be applied in other ways.

          My previous boss was training me and just gave me pointers. I was working at a gym trying to sell memberships. He told me that once I got all the small talk out of the way and presented the prices, the first person to talk would lose.

          It didn’t seem like a big deal but it actually worked. Often there were long periods of awkward silence as the person tried to come up with some excuses, but usually they bought.

          4. If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait.

          If you stay silent and keep eye contact, they will usually continue to talk.

          5. Chew gum when you’re approaching a situation that would make you nervous, like public speaking or bungee jumping.

          When we eat, our brain tell ourselves, “I would not be eating if I were danger. So I’m not in danger.” This has helped me to stay calm.

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          6. People will always remember how you made them feel, not what you said.

          Also, most people like talking about themselves; so ask lots of questions about them.

          7. When you’re learning something new, teach it to a friend. Let them ask you questions about it.

          If you’re able to teach something well, you will be sure that you’ve understood it very well.

          8. If you get yourself to be really happy and excited to see other people, they will react the same to you.

          It doesn’t always happen the first time, but it will definitely happen the next time.

          9. The physical effects of stress — breathing rate and heart rate — are almost identical to the physical effects of courage.

          When you’re feeling stressed in any situations, immediately reframe it : Your body is getting ready to be courageous, you are NOT stressed.

          10. Pay attention to people’s feet.

          If you approach two people in the middle of a conversation, and they only turn their torsos and not their feet, they don’t want you to join in the conversation.

          Similarly, if you are in a conversation with a coworker who you think is paying attention to you and their torso is turned towards you but their feet are facing in another direction, they want the conversation to end.

          11. Confidence is more important than knowledge.

          Don’t be intimidated by anyone, everyone is playing a role and wearing a mask.

          12. If you pretend to be something for long enough, you will eventually become it.

          Fake it till you make it. Period.

          13. Not to be creepy, but if you want to stare at someone unashamedly, look directly past them and wait for them to try and meet your eyes.

          When they fail to do that, they’ll look around (usually nervously for a second) they won’t look at you again for some time. This is your chance to straight up stare at this person for at least 45 seconds.

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          And as suggested by Brian Stutzman:

          If you’re staring at someone and get caught, DON’T turn your head or your body to look away, because that just confirms that you were staring.

          Just move your EYEBALLS off the person. Unlike turning your head, it’s instantaneous. And the person will think you were just looking at something behind them and that they were mistaken for thinking you were staring. Do it confidently, and ignore any reaction from the person, and you can sell it every single time.

          After a second, you can even look back at them with a “Why are you staring at me?” look on your face to really cement the deal!

          14. Build a network.

          Become the information source, and let the information be yours. Even grabbing a beer with a former colleague once a year will keep you in the loop at the old office.

          Former coworkers might have gotten a new position in that office you always wanted to work in, great! Go to them for a beer, and ask about the office. It’s all about connections and information.

          15. If you are angry at the person in front of you driving like a grandmother…

          Pretend it is your grandmother, it will significantly reduce your road rage.

          main-qimg-17c6060ba5491ad5af817faf5046a13b

            16. Stand up straight.

            No slouching, hands out of pockets, and head held up high. It’s not just a cliche — you literally feel better and people around you feel more confident in you.

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            17. Avoid saying “I think,” and “I believe” unless absolutely necessary.

            These are phrases that do not evoke confidence, and will literally do you no good.

            18. When feeling anxious, clean up your home or work space.

            You will feel happier and more accomplished than before.

            main-qimg-a0187fc57b3d874f251bd06c388991dd

              19. Always buy the first pitcher or round of drinks.

              You’d be surprised how long you could drink on the phrase “I bought the first one.”

              20. Going into an interview… be interested in your interviewers.

              If you focus on learning about them, you’ll seem to be more interesting and dynamic. (Again, people love to talk about themselves.)

              21. Pay attention parents! Always give your kid a choice that makes them think they are in control.

              For instance, when I want my son to put his shoes on I will say ,”do you want to put your star wars shoes on or your shark shoes on?”

              Pro-tip: In some cases, this works on adults.

              main-qimg-0dc201c56efe2beb49b842205f253dfb

                22. Your action affects your attitude more than your attitude affects your action.

                As my former teacher said “You can jump and dance FOR joy, but you can also jump and dance yourself joyful.”

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                23. When a group of people laugh, people will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to in that group.

                Notice who you look at and who look at you when you laugh with a group of people!

                24. If you want to build rapport or gain someone’s trust quickly, match their body posture and position.

                If someone is sitting with her legs crossed, cross your legs. If they’re leaning away from you, lean away from them. If they’re leaning towards you, lean towards them.

                Mirroring and matching body position is a subconscious way to tell if someone trusts you or is comfortable with you. If you’re sitting with your arms crossed and you notice someone else is sitting with her arms crossed, that is a good indicator that you have/are successfully built/building rapport with that person.

                25. The Benjamin Franklin Effect (suggested by Matt Miller)

                I find the basis of the Benjamin Franklin effect is very useful and extends far beyond pencil borrowing. This knowledge is useful in the world of flirting too.

                Asking a girl in your class if you can borrow a pencil or her notes or to explain the homework will make her more likely to like you than if you let her borrow your stuff or are the one to help her. Even just asking a girl to buy you drinks (facetiously) leaves a much bigger impression than offering to or actually buying a girl a drink.

                The best part is it kills 3 birds with one stone: you get the advantages of the favor itself, the person subconsciously likes you more, and it makes them more open to future favors and conversation.

                26. Handle panic and anxiety behaviors by tapping fingers (Suggested by Jade Barbee)

                When you’re feeling stressed, worried or angry, tap each finger tip while thinking (or speaking quietly) a few specific words about what is bothering you. Repeat the same words while tapping each of your 10 fingers, including thumbs.

                For example, tap while saying, “I’m so angry with her…” Doing so will likely take the charge out of the feeling and return you to a more resourceful (better feeling) state of being. It’s called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or “tapping,” and it is useful in many life situations – emotional sadness, physical pain, food cravings, traumatic memories…

                Featured photo credit: Nicole Wolf via unsplash.com

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