We want to grow. It's human. Growth is our default setting. And yet we don't grow. So says Whitney Johnson, award-winning author, CEO of talent development company Disruption Advisors and one of the 50 leading thinkers in the world as named by Thinkers50.
Why is this? According to Johnson there are oppositional forces preventing us from growing. “For most of us that muscle of doing things differently, changing it up, is very well developed when we're children but it gets increasingly flaccid the older that we get because we can insulate ourselves from doing new things,” explains Johnson.
Fear is just one of the oppositional forces holding us back. “One of the major emotions that's at play here is fear. If we try to grow and our attempts are somehow thwarted, that will have us feel like we ourselves are vanquished in some form or fashion,” says Johnson.
Overcoming these forces is necessary if we are to grow – ourselves and our organisations. And the good news, says Johnson, is that growth happens in a predictable way, which means we can understand where we are in our growth and chart a way forward.
Johnson uses a simple visual model that shows every new skill learned and new challenge faced as a distinct learning curve. Her framework, the S Curve of Learning, is broken into three phases: the launch point, sweet spot and mastery. Each phase has two distinct elements to it. Using the framework we can discover why it is so hard to start something new, how to gain and maintain momentum once we do start and why, once we are good at something, we often feel like we can’t keep doing it.
In this video Johnson talks to The People Space’s editorial director Siân Harrington about how the S Curve of Learning can help growth, explains the different phases of growth and offers advice on how to get started on your growth journey
About Whitney Johnson
Whitney Johnson is CEO of the tech-enabled talent development company Disruption Advisors and one of the 50 leading thinkers in the world as named by Thinkers50. She is an award-winning author, a regular keynote speaker and a frequent lecturer for Harvard Business School’s Corporate Learning.
A frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review, Johnson is author of several top-selling books including Disrupt Yourself and Build an A Team. Her latest book is Smart Growth: How to Grow Your People to Grow Your Company. She is also host of the popular Disrupt Yourself podcast, with guests including Brené Brown, Simon Sinek, Susan Cain and General Stanley McChrystal.
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