Why You Must Transform Yourself Into An Exponential Thinker
If you look at the lives of people 50 years ago you’d see that the change experienced by their generation, the generation before them and the generation after was pretty much linear. What do I mean? Let’s consider your grandfather. There’s evidence that his parents, his grandparents, and his children (i.e. your parent) were used the same tools, lived similar lives, were exposed to similar products, foods and services. Things pretty much moved in the same pace for those three generations. There was growth, however, it was linear.
Today, much has changed in terms of global growth. You’re now using tools and technology and leading lives much different from your parents and your grandparents. In fact, your children are exposed to many more innovations and technologies than you were at their age. But it’s not just the fact that their experiences have been enhanced, it’s the pace at which growth around them is moving forward. Today, your children are carrying smartphones that are faster, more capable and cheaper than the laptops you carried 10 years ago. In fact the laptop you purchased today is likely 4 times faster than the same priced laptop 2 years ago. Our generation is experiencing growth that’s exponential.
What is Exponential Thinking?
Championed by leading thought leaders and Singularity University cofounders Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, exponential thinking isn’t a phenomenon of the 21st century. In the early 80’s Kurzweil predicted that millions of people would be able to connect around the globe with the emergence of the World Wide Web, much to critics’ disbelief. The main reason that allowed him to make such a massive prediction was his observance of how the world was growing exponentially and not in a linear way. It wasn’t just this. Kurzweil believes that not only will information technology grow exponentially but it will also influence and encompass growth in other areas. Something we’ve seen rapidly occurring around us in every walk of life.
But what does exponential thinking mean? Diamandis best explains this:
“If I were to take 30 linear steps, it would be one, two, three, four, five. After 30 linear steps I’d end up 30 paces or 30 meters away and all of us could pretty much point to where 30 paces away would be. But if I said to you take 30 exponential steps, one, two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two and said where would you end up? Very few people would say a billion meters away, which is twenty-six times around the planet.”
Exponential thinking is beyond what’s current, what we’ll experience or achieve in our lifetime or even what the generation after us will experience or achieve. It’s rapid absorption of technological advances that we can only dream of today. It’s, simply put, making the impossible, a reality.
What It Means To Be An Exponential Thinker
To be an exponential thinker you’ll have to acknowledge two core and fundamental realities:
- technology is growing at an exponential not linear rate, and
- the capabilities of technology needs to be leveraged to impact several future generations.
Exponential thinking is a mindset that recognizes whatever actions we do today, whatever our strategies are and whatever impact we’re aiming to make needs to be massive and far beyond what we can foresee. It’s not a matter of 5, 10 or 20 years from now. I’m talking about exponential growth that’ll influence generations much after our own children.
And this is precisely the idea that constitutes what being a disruptive force in the corporate world today is. Companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and Tesla understand it well and have used exponential thinking to disrupt current global practices, demands and beliefs. On the other side are companies like Kodak and Sony (with its Blu-Ray) that continued to think linearly and lost out big time. If exponential growth wasn’t a real phenomenon that leaders should be taking seriously, then how else would you see startup companies going from valuations of zero to billions of dollars in a matter of few years!
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