Your Personal S-Curve in 3D!

David Nour
David Nour

In my newly released book, Curve Benders, I talk a lot about your personal reinvention through a growth journey from now to next. Let’s be honest, the arc of any job, project, initiative is roughly 3-5 years. In most cases, before this timeline, you’re still trying to figure out where the coffee is, who’s who, and how to get things done. Stick around after it, and you’ll be bored and run on autopilot!


So, it’s critical to rethink, reimagine, if not reinvent what you’re doing, how you do it, with whom you are working, and really question are you learning and growing? Are you still challenged every day or are you bored. Because if it’s the latter, you know it – and so does everyone else – as your boredom, or increased propensity to “wing it,” become evident in how you show up!


One of the best tools in thinking about, and planning your growth journey is the Personal S-Curve. Most of the content I’ve seen on this idea often portrays it in two dimensions: growth over time.

It’s important to start there and I often think of the five phases:


1. Invest – This is a declining phase and could be characterized as a period of diminishing return since you’ll primarily focus on investing resources (time, capabilities, and capital) to learn a new skill, apply skills to gain a piece of new knowledge, or modify a current behavior.


2. Stride – This phase is your early climb and all about execution: understanding the application of ideas, implementation of those ideas to solve your own challenges or address a new market opportunity, and benefiting from learning moments (not failures, but insights that propel you forward).


3. Excel – You’re cooking with gas now, as you’ve turned those early skills, knowledge, and behaviors into definitive competencies. Some may even refer to your prowess at this stage, as a superpower. You’ve not only figured out the job but how to really deliver value within your realm of responsibilities.


4. Plateau – This the flatline upper part of the S; you’ve reached a personal and professional plateau. You seldom feel challenged and are going through the motion. Maybe it’s your personal obligations or blind loyalty that’s keeping you in that role/company. You’ve definitely reached a ceiling in your growth trajectory.


5. Decline – If you choose to ignore it, your journey begins to take a decline as complacency sets in. Your lack of passion shows in the quality of your work, the mediocre talent you recruit, or the level of energy/excitement you bring to key conversations and initiatives.

Beyond intellectually understanding your personal S-curve, I want to plant a seed with you: your curve is actually 3D! Here is what I mean: when it comes to your skills, knowledge, and behaviors, what you learn from one unique part of your life, actually has growth applications in a completely different part of your life.


Some of you know that I have a passion for motorcycles. I’ve actually attended 14 different schools in the past decade because I want to do more than just swing my leg over a bike. I want to learn how to ride well, develop a real competency in riding safely, and since motorcyclists don’t have the car cage around them, learn to evade dangers – that may give you cold in a car, but will kill you on a bike! 


What I’ve observed is that the questions I’m asking during a motorcycle school about my point of entry, apex, and exit (reference points), are equally relevant when I’m coaching a leader about how he/she plans to enter that conversation, what they hope to gain from it, and how they’ll leave it. I’m equally curious about how to say something skillfully, as I am hitting that apex accurately! I’m thinking of intentionally demonstrating empathy, compassion, and a collaborative approach to our joint problem-solving challenge, as I am my body position down the straightaway or when climbing that steep hill with a 650 lbs. bike!


Below is an intro video that you may find of interest/value as well. Come join us in our Nour Forum community to continue this conversation?

Be well,


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