6 Powerful Levels of Change that Actually Last

“I just need to lock myself into a room for 8 hours and get all of this work done!” I told myself repeatedly on a typical bad day in 2011. I had just graduated from high school and some how persisted and succeeded in getting into a college of my choice.

That day was one of the many days in which I mostly focused on behaviours (techniques, tactics, and routines) to get to my end goal – school work, job, gym etc. Fast forward to today, I seldom focus on behaviours alone to get to my goals.

Now, if we were robots than focusing on just the behaviour alone when trying to change for the better would work.

Lucky for us, we are humans. We need more than just a behavior to do.

I am certain that all of us have an activity (sports, hobby, reading, browsing the web, or social media) that we do without any effort. Did you have to force that behavior out of you? Then why do we have to do it for other things in life – gym, work, study, and self-development?

Below I will breakdown how we can change for the better to get any goal accomplished over time – school, job, health, or personal. Here is the overview;

Reality: Personal Development Industry Sells “Overnight Success”

Do you remember the last time you saw a fitness product ad? A Belt that gives you six-pack abs! Or a magic pill that makes you slim overnight and fit into that dress! Yes, these kind of ads are one of the many products that try to sell you the “overnight success” formula. Unfortunately, they make millions of dollars each year.

Fitness Personal Development Jawwad Siddiqui
Examples of “Overnight Success” Products & Services

Just like the fitness industry, the personal development industry is flooded with “overnight success” formula as well. I myself have spent hundreds of dollars and more importantly countless hours devouring such personal development products.

These products or services usually have the following theme;

  • They focus on behaviours or outcomes. Do XYZ behavior and You will be happy / successful
    • Example: Wake up Early, work hard, and be passionate.
  • They focus on unrelated traits of successful people.
    • Example: Like steve jobs, be passionate and be a strict boss.
  • They focus on QUICK and painless results
    • Example: No sweat, no fatigue, no diet (yes that sounds like an ad you may have seen!)

None of the two industries, fitness and personal development, would make much money if they sold products named “5 Years for a Healthy Mind and Body” or “Live a Meaningful Life in 10 Years”. They give you steroids, without wanting to deal with the side-effects or the burnouts you will have trying to follow their advice or formula.

Truth: Personal Development is a “Lifetime Success”

Being a victim of the “overnight success” for both the personal development and fitness industry is partially what inspired me to start this blog on forever learning – writing and self-experiments – and not do what many others do in this domain.

Let’s look at the two industries with the “Lifetime Success” lens;

  • Fitness Industry – It requires a long time (2+ years) of constant self-improvement (diet, exercise, meditation etc) and failing forward.
  • Personal Development – It requires a long time (with a deeper purpose) of why you want to be improving yourself and courage to fail forward.

Do you see the trend? It is not what (behavior) to do (exercises, habits, etc) that people need help with – it is much deeper than that. Let look at that depth next;

Learn: 6 Levels of Change to Master Any Goal

Now here is a framework that athletes and soldiers have mastered – a framework that works holistically and not just alone on behaviors (what).

6 Levels of Change are a hierarchy of levels within an individual – me and you;

  1. Spiritual
  2. Identity
  3. Beliefs
  4. Capabilities
  5. Behaviors
  6. Environment

Any activity or task that we want to do (e.g eat health or meditate) goes through these six levels. Think of these six steps and roughly the process our brain follows – without us knowing about it. Yes, this is the reason why we can’t sometime explain why we spend 5+ hours watching TV when we want to be in better shape – our brain out-smarts’ us.

Therefore, the function of each level is to synthesize, organize, and direct the interaction to the level below it.

For example, if you change something at the “spiritual” level it radiates downward and effect other levels – identity, beliefs, etc. However, changing something on a lower could does not necessarily affect the upper levels (but can inspire you to self-reflect and understand why).

Levels of ChangePurposeQuestions to Ask
SpiritualVision and PurposeFor whom? For what?
Identity ? Who am IPermission & MotivationWho?
Belief ? Value and MeaningsMissionWhy?
Capabilities ? Strategies & StatesMaps and PlansHow?
Behaviors ? What to do?Actions and ReactionsWhat?
Environment ? External ContextConstraints & OpportunitiesWhere? When?

Example: 6-Levels of Change for an Olympic Athlete

Let’s look at an example of how an Olympic athlete, David Rudisha, who I have studied closely as part of my hero journal. He is the current Olympic champion and world record holder in 800 meters’ race. His pace was so fast, the last placed athlete in that race would have won gold at the previous three Olympics.

Overview of David Rudisha’s 6 Levels of Change

Let’s break down his six levels of change and study them in detail – starting from highest to lowest;

Spirituality

Question to Ask: For Whom? For What?

Purpose it Serves: Vision & Purpose

Definition: Spiritual level of change has to do with our sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves – a very deep level that is beyond ourselves.

David Rudisha’s Spirituality (for 800 meters’ race): He believed that he was the chosen one by God to carry the family tradition and represent his people – with the end goal of inspiring and helping them.

Identity

Question to Ask: Who am I?

Purpose it Serves: Permission & Motivation

Definition: Identity level relates to the sense of who you are – what make me, me?

David Rudisha’s Identity (for 800 meters’ race): “I am David Rudisha, Daniel Rudisha’s son. My father won Olympic gold medals and endured hardship to give me this opportunity. I will fulfill my identity” (Paraphrased from his interview)

Beliefs

Question to Ask: Why?

Purpose it Serves: Mission

Definition: Beliefs are related to judgements and evaluations we make about ourselves in the world around us. It is the self-talk that comes whenever you have to do something.

David Rudisha’s Belief (for 800 meters’ race): David Rudisha trained hard and trained with injuries. It was his belief that complete this mission regardless of the everyday obstacles.

Capabilities

Question to Ask: How?

Purpose it Serves: Maps & Plans

Definition: Capabilities level deal with mental strategies and maps people develop to guide their behavior. For example, working out habit for an athlete is much easier than a person who has never worked out before. It makes practising easier.

David Rudisha’s Capability (for 800 meters’ race): Rudisha had a dedicated coach and an exact practise program that he went over and over again.

Behavior

Question to Ask: What do I do?

Purpose it Serves: Actions & Reactions

Definition: These are the physical actions that we use to interact with the people and environment around us. For example, an athlete if taken to the gym will work out as compared to a normal individual.

David Rudisha’s Behavior (for 800 meters’ race): David Rudisha took almost every opportunity in which he had to travel and turned it into a sprint – which he measured and improved on.

Environment

Question to Ask: Where? When?

Purpose it Serves: Constraints & Opportunities

Definition: Environment level is the most tangible part around us. It is made up of factors such as the type of external setting, weather, food, and resources available.

David Rudisha’s Environment (for 800 meters’ race): He lived close-by his training facility (opportunity) and limited other resources (constraints) available to him to do something else.

Now, lets look at all of his six levels of change together;

Overview – David Rudisha’s Six Level of Change

You must have noticed that all of his levels of change were very interconnected – from spirituality to his environment. Also, not all levels are black and white as some of them overlap. The key is to understand the hierarchy and how they effect each other.

For athletes and professionals like David Rudisha, its not only about the What (behaviors) its about the holistic picture – the six levels which answer for whom, who, why, how, what, and where.

Apply: Use 6-Levels of Change for Your Next Challenge

Now, lets have a worksheet that you can apply to your next big goal. For example, if you want to loose 30 pounds, start a business, write a book or improve your relationships – just follow the steps below;

Step 1 – Write Your Goal Down

Just simply write it down in one sentence.

Step 2 – Fill Out Your 6-Levels of Change

After you have clearly articulated your gaol, take some time to fill out the yellow boxes below. This will develop a deeper and much stronger meaning behind what you want to do.


Step 3 – Improve them as You Go

This step is what differentiates between an amateur and a professional. Amateur players give up when an obstacle presents itself i-e the weather is bad so I will skip the gym! However, professionals play regardless of the obstacles at hand.

Want to see that in action? Watch any boxing match of a champion (my favorite, Muhammad Ali) – even after punches thrown at them they come back for second rounds. Its is highly accepted that strength alone is not the winning formula – you need mental toughness to intimidate the opponent.

Every time you stumble or fail to do the work to get there, come back and question your levels of change. Do you have a strong enough why? for what?

Example: This is how I improved each of my levels of change for my gym and fitness goal.

10 comments On 6 Powerful Levels of Change that Actually Last

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  • I am indeed thankful to God and the chance that made me coming accross your knowledge. By only reading your blog and the valuable information it contains I am already sensing a meaning to my life. I have prepared my daily journal to start up but now I
    decided to have first of all a full
    reading to all your articles which will give me a complete guidance
    and insight throught my journey. Thank you so much brother. 🙂

  • There is no way you are only 23 years old! You have to be lying about that! You are so very insightful.
    The personal drive you have is very refreshing to see in someone of your age for that matter it would be nice to see in people twice your age.
    but you need a typo person.

    • Jacqueline, I am very happy that it helped you with some insights and inspiration. I am thankful for people like you and the life experiences that have shaped my understanding of myself and others.

      Hope to see you around 🙂

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  • Here’s something I’ve been considering recently: what if we cannot choose where our spirituality and identity naturally guide us?

    For instance, did David Rudisha really have a choice in becoming driven and identified with the goal of becoming an Olympic athlete? Maybe not. In the same way, perhaps we’ve all entered life with momentum towards a general direction, and we need to let our spirituality and identity guide us towards those goals that truly inspire us.

    If this is the case, then the personal development industry has missed another key point: you can’t do anything you want, and you can’t fundamentally change yourself; rather, you can only embrace and amplify who you already are.

    I say this because I’ve been struggling with establishing lasting change, despite having clear goals. It seems, from an objective perspective, that no written purpose, no matter how selfish or selfless, can inspire me sufficiently to achieve arbitrary goals.

    With that said, I’m going to implement delineating these 6 levels of change for my goals, to see if I can discover something new about myself. Thanks for the article 🙂

    • Edwin, that is a very unique insight that you derived from the post. I am glad you were able to read between the lines. Yes, Indeed we are not all born to be David Rudisha’s but certain have our own strengths (our own unique story) that we must strive to live.

      I would recommend anyone reading this post to read the above comment! 🙂

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  • I have read “6 levels of change…” and will be considering how to use this article.

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