Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

What is disruption and how can it help you find success?

Today you’ll learn how disruption will help you learn a language or start a new life abroad.

Lindsay is joined by guest Whitney Johnson from Disruption Advisers on the podcast for this episode.

She shares the concept of the S Curve and how it can help you navigate the changes that happen when we relocate to a new country.

Whitney Johnson

Today, Lindsay has guest Whitney Johnson on the show.

Whitney is the CEO of Disruption Advisors, a world-class leadership development company.

Her company helps organizations operationalize a growth mindset in their leaders and teams.

Whitney is also the host of the Disrupt Yourself Podcast where she explores the concept of disruption with business leaders.

In today’s episode, Lindsay is excited to dive into the concept of disrupting ourselves.

What is disruption?

Whitney shares that disruption is deliberately pushing yourself to self-innovation.

It’s a decision you make to build new neural pathways to rewire your brain.

This was a project she started with Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School.

He studied disruptive innovation and how it affected business products and services.

This led to the realization that products and companies don’t get disrupted.

Rather, it’s individuals who are willing to disrupt themselves to accomplish change or progress.

This is very important for your own personal growth.

Change and growth

Change is inevitable and learning to navigate through it is when growth is achieved.

Take, for instance, how daunting it can be to move to a new country and be immersed in a foreign environment.

The actual move to a new place is a way of disrupting yourself.

You place yourself in a position to change and adapt to the new environment.

Whitney relates this to building a muscle.

Pushing yourself to learn a new language and engage with the locals around you is rewiring your neural pathways to something unfamiliar.

You are already inviting growth in your life.

Today’s episode is part one of a two-part series on this topic.

The second part will be on Matt Abraham’s podcast Think Fast Talk Smart next week, where he will explore another angle of disruption with Whitney.

Whitney’s experience abroad

Whitney was born in Spain and then became a missionary in Uruguay at age 21.

She did study Spanish but she struggled with communication once she moved to Uruguay.

Upon arrival, she recalls understanding very little.

All she could do was smile to communicate that she was happy to be there.

Whitney tried to figure out how to feel connected and relate to those she met.

This was a very important decision she made that helped her engage with the people around her.

The S Curve Framework

Lindsay had a similar experience when she stayed in France during a study abroad trip in high school.

Whitney shares what she calls the S Curve Framework.

This framework shows what growth looks like and what it feels like.i

In this episode, Whitney shared the three major parts of this framework.

#1: Launch point

The launch point is where you are introduced to an uncomfortable situation.

This is when you are in a new country and you have ideas that may be inaccurate about the new place.

There is a tendency to make incorrect assumptions when you are fearful.

You may be thrilled to be there but there will also be fear of the unknown.

The moment you are in a new environment, growth has already started.

It’s not apparent but it’s already happening.

Being in a position of discomfort, you are already starting the change.

#2: The sweet spot

Once you acknowledge the discomfort, and decide to stay and face it, you enter the sweet spot.

Remember that those initial ideas will change and you can debunk most of them to have an accurate view of the new experience.

You will then have the exhilarating feeling of knowing that you are growing and you will see improvement.

This will help you see that you are where you should be.

The fear will then fade away and you will enjoy challenges.

#3: Mastery

As you keep taking on challenges and practice your new learning, you arrive at the stage of mastery.

When you are at the sweet spot, everything feels fast.

When you get to the point of slowing down, that’s a cue that you have reached the mastery level.

It no longer feels like hard work.

Instead, it feels like second nature to you.

With this stage, you’ll feel yourself actually change as you become a different version of yourself.

Thinking in a second language

Whitney shares that when she was in Uruguay she reached this stage of mastery.

It caused her to feel alive and emotional.

She was then able to speak and think in Spanish.

This is something she will hold precious forever.

Once mastery is achieved, the next step is to find a new S Curve experience.

This way, you will continue to learn and grow.


It’s important to constantly learn more about yourself and improve your skills and self-worth.

This is best done by going through uncomfortable situations in an attempt to seek growth.

Stay with a difficult situation, give it time, and find tactics to persevere.

It will build your confidence to know you’ve come to the end of a hard situation.

Keep exploring new things and challenging yourself to make progress.

We are wired to grow, so achieving that growth will bring you happiness and satisfaction.

Don’t miss part 2 of this series on Matt Abrahams’s podcast Think Fast and Talk Smarter for more about disruption from Whitney Johnson.

What are other ways you can challenge yourself to do something new?

Share an example in the comments below.

Whitney’s bio

Whitney Johnson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Disruption Advisors, a world-class leadership
development company that helps organizations operationalize a growth mindset in their leaders
and teams. Under Johnson’s leadership, Disruption Advisors has been an Inc. 5000 fastest
growing company, where they leverage Johnson’s powerful S Curve model to give leaders and
their people a shared language to create positive change across an organization. Johnson was
named by Thinkers50 as one of the top 10 leading business thinkers in the world in 2021, a top
200 female founder by Inc. Magazine in 2023, and in 2020 she was a Top Voice on LinkedIn
where she has 1.8 million followers.

A co-founder of the Disruptive Innovation Fund with Harvard’s Clayton Christensen, and an
award-winning stock analyst on Wall Street, she now applies her understanding of momentum
and growth in stocks to people. Whitney is a WSJ, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling author
and host of the popular Disrupt Yourself podcast.

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