The caterpillar knows exactly when it is the right moment to spin itself into a cocoon and start the transformation into a butterfly. However, for us, the moment to transform is not always as obvious.
Kodak (who invented digital photography in the early 1970s) failed to benefit from their own invention and filed for bankruptcy in 2012. Nokia (who in 2007 was the market leader in mobile phones) completely lost out on potential, handing it over to new competitors. In 2013, they sold their mobile phone business to Microsoft. Both Kodak and Nokia stubbornly stuck to old strategies, and failed to transform at the right moment.
When is it Time to Transform?
On a personal level for everyone, the biggest challenge might very well be finding the right moment for transformation. Sometimes, external events might lead you to it; a sad event in life affects you, or your company reorganises, and you are made redundant. These are external triggers that sometimes lead to the greatest transformations. However, wouldn’t it be nice to take destiny in your own hands and lead your own transformation?
Take for instance, the case of an executive I coached a few years ago to develop her professional career. As a result of the engagement, she made the decision to leave her employer and follow a different path. That too is one of the benefits of coaching; it enables you to take a step back and answer the “What’s next?” question, to see if you are still on the right path. In the situation of the corporate executive, the coaching helped her to find her true calling and triggered her to spread her wings by transforming into an entrepreneurial butterfly!
The S-Curve of Smart Growth
In her book “Smart Growth,”* Whitney Johnson describes the S-curve as a concept of personal growth. Illustrated using many examples, she explains how the S-curve of growth develops. The pace is slow at the beginning, you are still new in your role and exploring it. It is faster-paced in the middle, when you are in your flow. It is slow again at the top, you are on autopilot and might even become bored. Somewhere around the top of your role, it’s often the right time to jump onto a new S-curve and to transform yourself by taking a new career path. The moment it happens is not always obvious. Sometimes, you stumble onto a new opportunity and sometimes you realise that, like with the aforementioned executive, it is time for a new path after conversations with your coach.