Today, the world is not only changing constantly, but much of that change is exponential change.
I don't use this word "exponential" lightly. Exponential change is often incomprehensibly rapid because we're used to linear change. An example of linear change would be like this: 1000+1000+1000+1000=4000. And that's the sort of change we're used to looking for, experiencing, and dealing with. By contrast, here's an example of exponential change: 1000x1000x1000x1000=1,000,000,000. This is a level of rapid change that is very difficult to comprehend in real life, and even harder to plan for and adjust to.
Let me show you just one more example. J.Scott Armstrong is a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business, and he used this example to show the significance of exponential change to his students:
He asked his students to predict how thick a piece of paper would be if he folded it in half 40 times. And he gave them four choices: 1, Less than a foot. 2, Greater than a foot, up to a mile. 3, Greater than a mile, up to 2000 miles. 4, Greater than 2000 miles.
In a group of 20 students, thirteen chose answer 1. Five chose answer 2. Two chose answer 3. And no one chose answer 4.
The point of this blog post is to explain exponential change itself. One reason the rapid pace of change in the world is so difficult and overwhelming for many people is that we cannot comprehend it. We have no anchor, no standard to compare it to. This story illustrates just how overwhelming exponential change can be, and anchors the idea in our minds clearly. The idea seems impossible, preposterous. But it is actually simple math…
This is the math of exponential change. And every day, this sort of math becomes more important. Every day, exponential change gains rapidly on the linear world you're used to.
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