So what do you do when you are working at a company, and you've been there for in the same role for three or four years, and you love this company. I mean, you believe in the company. You believe in the mission. But the problem is, there’s this creeping feeling that it's time for you to do something new.
You're not really playing to your strengths. You're not getting to use your strength every day. Like, you wake up in the morning on Monday, and you're like, oh my goodness, I have to go to work, sometimes maybe even getting sick. That's a signal for you that, like, oh, maybe it's time for you to do something new.
So what do you do? What do you do? One of the experience I had is I was working on Wall Street, and I had been an equity analyst for about eight years. I was an institutional investor-ranked analyst and really at the top of my game. And it was like, it's time. It's time for me to do something new. And I went to my boss. I said, hey, I want to do something new. It feels like it's time. And he said, really, no, really, we like you right where you are.
Within a year I left. Had it been possible for me to jump to do something new, to disrupt myself inside the organization, I wouldn't have left. I would have stayed where I was. And so that led me on this journey of, how do I build out a framework or codify a process so that people that are high performers who want to stay at an organization that they love will stay? What does that look like? You’re bored. Why? Because you're no longer learning. It's not that I don't like this company. It's not that I don't like this boss. It's just that I am not learning anymore.
So that's the first thing that you want to understand is that everyone's on an S-curve. Okay. Now that you're at the top of that S-curve, if you try to stay there too long, your plateau will become a precipice. In a sentence, what is the S-curve? Ok. Yeah. You know what. No one's ever asked me to say it in one sentence. Isn’t that funny? So what is the S-curve?
The S-curve is a learning curve. Everyone's on a learning curve, including you. It looks like this. There are three parts. Number one, there's the low end, or the launch point, of the curve, and is characterized by inexperience. You just started a new role. You just started a new job. Growth is going to be slow.
And that means that some days you're going to feel kind of discouraged. Then there's a sweet spot, or steep part of the curve, which is characterized by exhilaration, and learning, and confidence. Things will be hard, but not too hard. Easy, but not too easy. All of your neurons are firing. This is that sweet spot of that S-curve.
And then there's the high end of the curve. The high end of the curve is where you become a master. You've mastered your domain, which is characterized by boredom. But what's encouraging about that is then you can say to yourself, OK. That's why I'm cranky. That's why I'm bored. That's why I'm feeling like I need to do something new. And once you know that you can say, all right, I need to do something about that.
You might be thinking, all right, really? Like, I'm really enjoying the top of this S-curve. It's pretty comfortable. And for me to jump to a new S-curve, it's going to be kind of scary. It means I need to put myself into a situation where things are brand new and really uncomfortable, and I really don't want to do it. But it's also scary if you don't jump. If you're too comfortable, we stop growing, and we get complacent, and that is a huge, huge danger zone. Let me tell you, for anybody who knows anything about mountain climbing, you'll know that when you get to an altitude above 26,000 feet, it's the death zons, because you're so high up, your brain and body start to die.
Well, when people are at the top of an S-curve, it's also the death zone. Because if you stay there too long, your brain and your body, they start to die. You have to do it. OK. You’re at the top of an S-curve, and you’re like, OK, I got to jump to a new S-curve. And it's either going to be at another company, but I'd like to be here. Because I like this company. I like my boss. How do you craft that conversation with your manager?
You want to do everything that I didn't do. Like what I did on Wall Street. I'm bored. I want to do something new. In my naivete, expecting my boss to just figure it out for me. I've learned some good lessons. Be very proactive. You want to go in and say, it’s time for me to do something new. I've noticed that there is an opportunity over here -- meaning a problem that the organization needs to solve over here -- and I think I can help solve it. And so I'd like to go do that.
What I will do is I will commit to make sure that when I go do this, and I hope that you will back me, I will make sure that I train my successor so that you, my boss, are not left in the lurch. We sometimes forget that our boss has a job that they need to get done. And if we leave, then it will be hard for them to get it done. But if you can find a place for yourself to go, manage so that the person who will fill your slot will be able to move in very quickly, then there is no interruption of business, then you’ve solved a lot of the problem or the challenge of why your boss might say, well, I don't want you to go. Well, you’re like, well, actually, in the long run, this is not only going to benefit me, but it's going to benefit you and the organization.
You as a leader, you as an organization need people who can grow. You need people who learn, leap, and repeat. And so the challenge for you as a manager is, if this person is good at what they do, is to make sure that they jump to new S-curves. Sometimes they're going to approach you and want to jump to an S-curve. And if you want to retain them, then you got to let that happen. Sometimes they won't approach you, but they've been a high performer in the past, in which case, you need to push them.
Because if they're at the top of the curve and they're bored, they're either going to leave, or they're going to disengage. They're going to be complacent and stay, which is bad. It's bad for them. It's bad for you. It's bad for the company. I have this hypothesis that whenever people lose their jobs -- I've lost my job before -- my argument to you is when you lose your job – hypothesis -- you're at the top of that S-curve. It’s time for you to jump.
You know it, and you won't do it, so the universe gives you that nudge. Do you want to disrupt yourself, take control the situation and figure how, and when, and what you jump to? Or do you want to get pushed off the cliff? Your plateau becomes a precipice.