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Published on April 22, 2020

Understand the 2 Types of Growth Curves to Grow Faster

Understand the 2 Types of Growth Curves to Grow Faster

When someone last talked to you about logarithmic and exponential growth curves, you probably had flashbacks to that math class you took in high school. Whether those are good or bad memories for you doesn’t matter because we aren’t talking about mathematical calculations today.

Today, the growth curves we’re talking about have everything to do with your personal development and growth.

What Are the 2 Types of Growth Curves?

The two types of growth curves that are most common are logarithmic growth curves and exponential growth curves. Essentially, they are the opposite of each other.

I’ll start by explaining and exponential growth curve as that is the one people are typically more familiar with.

Exponential Growth Curves

An exponential growth curve is one where the slope of the curve gets greater and greater as you move along it.[1] The best way to imagine an exponential curve, if you don’t know what it looks like, is to think about an investment portfolio.

Over time your investments grow in value, and due to the compound interest, year after year you are making more money than you made the previous year. For example, say you invested $100 and got a 10% return. At the end of the year, you’d have $110. Now next year say you again got a 10% return, but now you have the $110 in the account. This would mean you gained $11 this year, $1 more than the previous year. Over time, this gap between years gets larger and larger, and the slope of the curve gets steeper and steeper!

Now let’s talk a little bit about the logarithmic growth curves.

Logarithmic Growth Curves

A logarithmic growth curve is essentially the opposite of an exponential growth curve. In a logarithmic growth curve, the curve of the line starts by going up very stteply, and then over time the slope of the line continually declines until it becomes essentially flat.

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Try to picture this like you were starting a 100m sprinting race. If you started from a standstill and then took off with the gunshot, your speed would rapidly increase for the first few seconds. However, as you approached the 30-50m mark, you would be running pretty fast, so it would be harder to run even faster, but you still could if you tried. Now by the time you get to the 80m mark, you’re probably running at just about max speed for you, and no matter how hard you ty, any increases in your speed from here will be minimal.

There are two examples of the types of curves that we’ll be talking about in terms of personal development and growth today.[2] Let’s shift our talk today over to how this information can help you moving forward!

How Understanding Growth Curves Benefits Your Development

They always say that knowledge is power. I believe that this is partly true. I much prefer to think of knowledge as potential power. You could have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don’t know how or fail to apply that knowledge, then what good is it to you?

So let’s explore how understanding each type of growth curve could benefit you as you travel through your personal development and growth journey.

Understanding Exponential Growth Curves

As we discussed, exponential growth curves are ones where the slope of the curve increases at an ever-steepening rate. We applied the example of an investment portfolio here.

However, this is very applicable to your growth journey as well.

Have you ever noticed that as you continually practice certain skills, you get better and better at performing them? Of course you have. That’s pretty common knowledge; as you practice something, you get better and better at it.

Some skills will undergo exponential growth or lead to exponential growth in certain areas of your life.

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The example that comes to mind is that of entrepreneurship. They say that making the first million in any business is always the hardest. Why is that? Because it takes time to develop and gain experience to make that first million. You have to learn the lessons and develop the skills that allow you to achieve this goal.

So what do you think happens when you go to make your second million after you’ve already made your first? Do you think that it will take less time or more time? It will take less time, right? You’ve already developed the skills and gained the experiences you need to achieve this goal.

Therefore, over time, your returns will get greater and greater as you work on these skills.

Why is this important?

This is important because it shows us that for skills with exponential growth, there is a significant learning curve at the outset, but over time, as we develop these skills, things get easier and easier and our returns get greater and greater!

Understanding this growth curve can remind us that things won’t always come easily to us, that you need to put in the work upfront to achieve these goals, but after you’ve put in that significant amount of upfront work, your efforts begin to pay you back in dividends long-term.

Understanding Logarithmic Growth Curves

Remember that logarithmic growth curves are essentially the opposite in appearance to exponential growth curves. The slope of the curve is very steep at the beginning, but the slope slowly declines over time until the line becomes essentially flat.

A real-life example of this could be seen in top-level athletes and the work they put into their sport and physical abilities or people who are studying for examinations as they try to learn and consume material.

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Let’s start with the student.

Any student will tell you that the difference between getting 50% on an exam and 70% is not that significant. That’s a jump of 20%. However, they’ll also tell you that the difference in effort required to get 90% versus 95% is often massive. That’s a jump of only 5% this time, but the effort to make that jump is much higher than the initial 20% jump completed earlier.

Athletes experience similar cases in regards to their physical performance. Let’s talk about sprinter again. When you first start training for sprinting, you’re probably pretty slow. However, as you practice and learn the proper form, you’re able to cut 5 seconds off your 200m sprint time in just a few weeks without too much effort. Then, as you keep practicing and perfecting your technique, you can shave off another few seconds as you become more masterful. However, once you reach elite levels of sprinting, the effort and dedication that it takes to shave off even just 1 second, or maybe even less, is truly immense!

So why is understanding this growth curve important?

What understanding this curve can teach us is that to reach truly elite levels of performance of certain skills, we are going to have to work hard. Yes, you are going to see lots of improvement at the outset, but over time as you progress, it’s going to become harder and harder to reach that next level.

You need to ask yourself if are you willing to put in the work to reach those levels on your development journey. Are you willing to work harder than everybody else? Are you willing to work like the top 1% to be the top 1%?

Putting It All Together

Now that you understand the different growth curves and how they can be applied to your life, let’s talk about the critical pieces of information to take away from this article.

The important thing to understand in regards to growth curves for personal development is to identify which curve is likely going to apply to the skill you’re developing so you can prepare yourself mentally for the challenges that you’re inevitably going to have to face.

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For example, let’s take exponential skills as our first example. We know that the growth we see in these skills early on is minimal. It’s later in the process that you see the fruits of your labors. Therefore, you should prepare yourself mentally for the early frustrations you’re likely to experience.

Understand that even though you aren’t seeing much progress upfront, the effort you’re putting in now is towards a much larger goal and return later.

Now let’s look at logarithmic skills. These are the opposite. Here the growth is fast initially, but over time the returns of your efforts dwindle as you approach elite levels. Now the challenge is flipped. Now you have to do your best to not let your ego get too big as your growth skyrockets initially, and you also have to prevent yourself from getting discouraged later in the process when growth becomes increasingly more difficult.

Apply these lessons to your life. Mentally prepare yourself for the challenges that lay ahead of you. If you can master the mind on your course to personal development, you’ve already overcome one of the massive hurdles that more people succumb to!

Final Thoughts

The two most common types of growth curves, exponential and logarithmic, can easily be applied to many areas of your life and the skills you are interested in investing time and energy into.

Try applying the lessons here to help you overcome the obstacles in your way. However, make sure you remember that all this knowledge means nothing if you aren’t willing to apply it.

More Tips on Learning and Growth

Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

Reference

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Mark Lynch

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Last Updated on July 24, 2020

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

One of the most crucial aspects of our lives is the ability to learn. We often take this skill for granted since not many of us pause and think about our learning process. In fact, if we did, we would probably uncover that we engage in ineffective learning mechanisms.

Think about it. Has your learning helped you recall things you learned last month? Go back a year and ponder.

A lot of how we learn was tucked away in school. Our exposure to school learning is the basis of how we learn moving forward. However, over the past few decades, learning has evolved into different stages of learning, and that becomes the main issue.

No longer are we looking at examinations of people’s characteristics about understanding and learning. Instead, scholars have created learning processes that use materials that support our interactions with others and our goals.

As a result, we can learn new things more smartly and effectively – which will be covered as we proceed further in understanding the learning process.

The Essential Steps of the Learning Process

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell states that the key to success is for us to practice 10,000 hours on a specific skill. It’s also worth noting that the skill needs the correct learning direction. If you’re learning how to do something the wrong way, you’ll continue to use it the wrong way.

But before understanding the learning process, we must understand the stages of learning. Written in the 1970s, Noel Burch created a model called the Four Stages of Learning. [1]

From there, we can use the stages of learning as a basis for how to learn effectively.

1. Unconscious Incompetence

Think of a skill that you are good at and that you use every single day.

Now think back to when you first developed that skill. Were you good at it? Probably not.

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You never heard of the skill or had a desire to learn of it until that point. This is the first stage: You know nothing about it.

2. Conscious Incompetence

Once you have heard of the skill, you begin to delve into it.

Driving a car is a perfect example. Before this stage, you never felt the need to learn how to drive. Nevertheless, once you became of legal age, you had to study to get your license. You likely made several mistakes on the driving test as well as during the written test.

This is the stage where you feel learning is slow, and you’re also aware of your mistakes.

3. Conscious Competence

By this stage, you know pretty much everything you need to know. At the same time, though, you are also aware that you need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing.

This stage can be that you know the rules of the road and can drive well. However, you feel you can’t talk to anyone, play any music, or look away from the road. You feel like you need total silence to focus and concentrate on driving.

At this stage, learning can be even slower than the previous stages. The learning isn’t consistent, nor is it a habit yet.

4. Unconscious Competence

By this stage, you’ve made it. You know everything in and out about the skill. It’s become a habit, and you don’t need to concentrate. You can relax and let your unconscious mind take over.

Exceeding the 4 Stages: Flow/Mastery

While Burch only covered four stages, there is another stage that exceeds it. This is the flow or mastery stage.

You may have heard of something called a flow state. [2] It’s the mental state where someone is performing an activity and is fully immersed in it. They feel energized, focused, and get a sense of joy from doing this activity.

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Flow or mastery can stem from all kinds of activities like Writing, reading, jogging, biking, figure skating, and more. It’s also characterized as complete absorption in what you’re doing, making you unaware of space and time.

Different Types of Learning Process

Another aspect of the learning process is the types of learning. While every person goes through those stages of learning, how we learn is different.

Having covered four learning styles in 4 Learning Styles to Help You Learn Faster and Smarter, I’m recapping the different types of learning in psychology.

Psychiatrists have narrowed how we learn down to seven learning styles as below:

  • Visual (spatial): Learning through pictures, graphs, charts, etc.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): Learning through sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): Learning through spoken or written words.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): Learning through the body, hands, and a sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): Learning through logic, systems, and reasons.
  • Social (interpersonal): Learning through groups or talking to people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): Learning individually through self-study or individual assignments.

You may be asking why all of this matters and actually how we learn plays a significant role. How we internally represent experiences stems from how we learn. What we learn not only establishes how we recall information but also impacts our own word choice.

It also influences which part of our brain we use for learning. Researchers uncovered this through various experiments.[3]

For example, say you’re driving to a place you’ve never gone before. How you learn will determine which method of learning you’ll use. Some will ask people for directions, while others will pull up Google maps. Some will write the directions out, while some won’t and merely follow street signs.

Knowing how to learn to this depth is vital because once you know what style you use, you can then develop a learning process to be a more effective learner.

How To Become an Effective Learner?

The learning process varies from person to person. Generally speaking, though, consider the following steps and considerations:

1. Improve Your Memory

Learning doesn’t only require that we learn information, but to retain it. If we are to learn something, we will have to learn and relearn. This means recalling and having a sharp memory to keep that information.

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Improving our memory can range from a variety of things. From memory palaces to practicing other memory improvement tactics.

2. Keep Learning and Practicing New Things

Learning a new skill takes time, but there is nothing wrong with learning a few other things. International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training[4] reported that those who juggled between learning different topics increase their gray matter which is associated with visual memory

3. Learn in Many Ways

While we have our own go-to style, delving into other types and stages of learning can be useful. If you learn by listening to podcasts, why not try rehearsing information verbally or visually?

It will not start great, but by improving your skill to describe what you learned orally, you are further cementing the knowledge in your mind.

Judy Willis MD, M.Ed in her publication on Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success[5] states how the more regions we keep data stored, the more interconnection there is in the collection information that we later process.

4. Teaching What You Learned to Others

It doesn’t have to be in a tutoring situation, but this method is still a reliable way for two people to grow.

Regardless of learning styles, we retain the information we tell others more effectively than if we keep it to ourselves. Was there a random fact you told someone a few months ago? You are more likely to remember that information because you brought it up to someone.

5. Use Relational Learning

Relational learning is relating new information to things you already know.

A typical example of this is remembering someone’s name. You can better recall that person’s name if you associate that name to something or someone familiar.

6. Gaining Practical Experience

Nothing beats learning than trying it for yourself. Sure, seeing information does have its strong points -and most learning styles benefit from exposed information – there is something to be said about getting your “hands dirty.”

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7. Refer Back to past Info If Need Be

The learning process is not perfect. We’ll forget at certain points. If you ever struggle to remember something, make a point of going back to your notes.

This is key because if we try recalling, we risk ourselves learning or relearning the wrong answer. And again, there is a difference between learning the right way and the wrong way.

8. Test Yourself

While this step may seem odd, there are benefits to testing yourself. Even if you think you know everything about the topic, going back and testing yourself can always help.

Not only does testing improve our recall, but we may realize that we learned a concept or task incorrectly. That knowledge can enhance our effectiveness in the future.

9. Stop Multitasking

While we should be learning new things all the time, we shouldn’t be trying to do several tasks at once. We ought to focus on one activity at a time before moving onto other tasks.

By trying to multitask, we are learning less effectively and are only hindering ourselves. Check out how multitasking is merely another way of distracting ourselves.

Bottom Line

Psychologists define learning as the process of a permanent change in a person’s behavior resulting from experience. The understanding of the learning process is up to us, but do consider the bigger picture. Be aware of what style works best for you, and work to improve it while enhancing other learning styles. The only way we can advance a skill is to learn continuously. Even in the skills you have mastered, there are always new developments.

You can learn more about how you can cultivate lifelong learning and attain an edge in every niche that you get associated with today!

Featured photo credit: Aliis Sinisalu via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Gordon Training International: The Four Stages of Competence
[2] Habits for Wellbeing: Flow: the Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
[3] Training Industry: How the Brain Learns
[4] International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training
[5] Judy Willis MD, M.Ed: Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success

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