“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy

Thomas didn’t like change. Shortly after getting married, his wife began to turn his bachelor pad into something more suitable for a family. Thomas would come home to find a painting moved from one wall to another, or a the furniture in a different arrangement than when he left. This was the cause of many conflicts early on in his marriage. He would get upset that she moved things without asking him, and she would get upset thinking he was trying to control her. Around and around they went until one day he had a breakthrough…

This breakthrough was the first step in what Ford Taylor describes the four levels of change in his Transformational Leadership Training and Business Consulting course.

Level One: Knowledge
This is the easiest level to change because it’s tied to our thoughts. Thomas had his breakthrough when he realized that he had no desire to control his wife, and that his frustration in his wife not “consulting him” first was rooted in something else.

Level Two: Attitude
This level is tied directly to our emotions, and where a lot of people get hung up and fail to progress. Thankfully Thomas didn’t get stuck here. He identified that the problem boiled down to the fact that he didn’t like change. More specifically, he didn’t like unexpected change. Thomas assured his wife she had free reign to do whatever she wanted in the house, as long as she at least informed him of it before he got home.

Level Three: Behavior
This is the most difficult level to change as an individual because it is tied to our day to day behavior. Thomas resolved to accept whatever his wife did in the home because he knew that he was an unreliable source when asked about his preference – his preference was always to leave things the way they were. This was very difficult at first, but he stuck to it. Over time he realized he liked the changes she made, and that the house really did look better.

Level Four: Relational
In order for Relational change to happen – there has to be enough people pulling on the same rope in the same direction, toward the same vision. Thomas was committed to getting to the root of the problem rather than blaming everything on his wife’s desire to move things around, and his wife was also committed working with him to find a solution. This allowed the relational change in their dynamic to improve dramatically.

Level Four change is also difficult because it requires a tipping point, especially to affect organizational or cultural change. The good news is, that tipping point only takes 3-15% to shift the entire culture of a company, family, city or nation. The bad news is, it only takes 3-15% to send it back the wrong way again.

The ability to adapt makes a significant difference in how easy it will be to become a transformational leader. How about you? Do you adapt to change easily, or are you more like Thomas? Which of these four levels do you think will be the most difficult for you accomplish personally? Which will be the easiest?

“Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”
– 1 Timothy 4:15 (ESV)