The 7 Personal Transformers

Over the last two weeks we have looked at leading transformation and transforming culture

Today we are going to look at the individual. And in particular the 7 elements that lead to personal transformation.

Consider a chunk of broken asphalt – a road full of potholes. At some point, there was a hairline fracture, tiny certainly not worthy of repair. There was rain or melting snow. Water seeped into the asphalt, froze and expanded – and the asphalt broke.

Asphalt has enormous compression strength: it can withstand thousands of pounds of surface or external pressure. So why did it break? Because it has less tensile strength. It can’t withstand pressure from within.

People are a bit like asphalt. We can handle a lot of external pressure. If this gives us the strength to persevere, that can be a good thing. If we resist and batten down the hatches when faced with the inevitable, it’s not.

What happens if the pressure comes from within? What if you have the courage, or even the pressing need to try something new? To ride, rather than resist, the wave of transformation? This is where the relative weakness of tensile strength can work in your favour. Just a few small changes, like drops of water, permeate, expand, and break your hold on the past, creating space for a new and better version of you.

I believe the S-Curve can be used to understand personal transformation – the necessary pivots in our own career paths. In complex systems like a business or a brain, cause and effect may not always be as clear as the relationship between the light switch and the light bulb. There are time-delayed and time dependent relationships in which huge effort may yield little in the near term, or in which high output today may be the result of actions taken a long time ago. The S-Curve decodes these patterns, providing signposts along a path that, while frequently trodden, is not always obvious. If you can successfully navigate, even harness, the successive cycles of learning and mastering that resembles the S-Curve model, you will seize opportunities in the era of accelerating transformation.

The S-Curve also helps us understand the psychology of transforming ourselves. As we launch into something new, understanding that progress may at first be almost imperceptible helps keep discouragement at bay. It also helps us recognize why the steep part of the learning curve is so fun. When you are learning. You are feeling the effects of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel good. It is an office dweller’s version of thrill seeking. Once we reach the upper flat portion of the S-Curve and things become habitual or automatic, our brains create less of these feel good chemicals and boredom kicks in, making an emotional case for personal transformation.

I’ve identified seven variables that can speed up or slow down the movement of individuals or organisations along the curve. Over the next few weeks we will devote a blog to each.

Yes, transformation can feel a bit scary, but the payoff of career growth and personal achievement makes overcoming the fear factor well worth it. We all start at the low end of the learning curve. We will look at how you shift into hypergrowth and, when learning crests, to do what great transformers do: catch a new wave.

Back to Blog

Get Mark's thought-provoking exploration straight into your inbox