39: The Two Types of Growth Curves in Life
Patterns exist all around us. The job is to spot them and draw from the insights. Life is full of curves so why not understand them to make better use of them.
The most common types of growth cycles you’ve come across at some point in your life include:
- The Logarithmic cycle
- The Exponential cycle
Both of these curves are a great way to track progress in different areas of life. I came across this idea from James Clear, Scott Young, and good ol’ Mathematics.
Let’s get a little more up the curve on them.
The Logarithmic Cycle 👆👉
In this curve the gains come quickly but as time goes on and due to the law of diminishing returns the gains decrease and become much harder to obtain.
There are many areas of life you can see the curve followed:
- Music: Improvements come fast when first starting out for a beginner compared to a professional musician. It requires much longer to make the jump to the next level.
- Language Learning: Speaking a different language with enough comfort comes with its advantages but once you’re at that level the future gains don’t provide much return.
- Strength Training: Starting out you will see changes come fast but once you become an intermediate the gains tend to slow down and often this is where people feel the frustration that comes with plateaus.
There are many other aspects such as programming, running, and many more which come into the logarithmic cycle category.
The Exponential Cycle 👉👆
This curve follows growth but in a different way.
The gains take a long-time to manifest. The time could be days, months, even years but once they do manifest it becomes way easier to keep at it. The law of Compounding plays a larger factor with this curve.
There are many areas of life you can see this curve followed as well:
- Email subscribers: In the start, there will be very few but over time the very few leads to new connections which build to the insane amount of subscribers coming in.
- Social Media Channels: Easiest one to see. Starting 1000 followers takes a lot of time. Once you get to 100,000 followers 1000 can come in just a day.
- Entrepreneurship: In the beginning, it’s just you and slowly the assets you lay down to become the foundations to make the idea -> startup -> business company
- Investments: Roth-IRA, 401-K, Savings accounts all use the power of compounding to become 10x over the years.
Now we know that these 2 curves are very common in many different areas of life but they are not perfect either.
Logarithmic curve requires mental toughness, falling in love with the routine, focusing on small wins.
There will be times when you will see your gains slow down and it can be very easy to think this is the peak. That is not the truth. You will question yourself and feel like the world is questioning you but with consistency, the results will be evident themselves.
Dealing with the challenges of the exponential curve requires perseverance, patience, and thinking long-term.
“There may be 10 years of silence before you hear the sounds of succes and giving your best effort even with average results is what matters the most” James Clear
Hacking for Faster Growth
Now that we know the two curves and the qualities required to succeed on them comes to the question is there anything you can do to speed things up? There are two ways to do so:
Find smaller tasks for expedited growth - Logarithmic Cycle
- Get super specific on the tasks you have to do and break them down to master them quickly. This will make you feel more successful and actually be more successful at the same time. Comes with one downfall, it requires effort.
- Example: David Brailsford focused on improving by 1% on every task related to cycling and due to this led the British cyclists to crazy amounts of success.
Choose the highest curve - Exponential Cycle
- Starting a software-based business versus building a candle shop. Both ideas have the potential to become big given effort and time but in the information age and the reach of the internet the software-based business has a higher exponential curve compared to the candle shop
Takeaway + TLDR
Understanding what type of journey you are on and whether an exponential or logarithmic approach matters more can help you decide the type of mindset and effort needed to succeed. You become an active player of the game rather instead of just being the passive observer to your life.
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