by Melanie Greene

Where do I start to change?

Learning can be easy if we go about it in the right way. However, what often happens when we are learning something new is that we make changes at the wrong level of understanding or fail to recognise that we need to make changes at several levels. This results in change being very difficult or slow to take place.

For example, perhaps you want to learn to be more assertive and therefore attend an assertiveness course. This is great, but if the course only focuses on your behaviour and you still have a limiting belief around the topic, such as ‘I am just not an assertive person’ or ‘I could never influence my manager’, it is unlikely that you will make the most of the new behaviours that you have learned.

Robert Dilts, an international coach and trainer, created the Logical Levels of Change Model, which you can use to identify where you might have blockages and consequently need to make changes in yourself when you are learning something new or developing new skills.

Key point

What helps and hinders you when you are learning something new?

Logical levels: what does each level mean?

This model can be used to explore anything you are wishing to improve – self management abilities, assertiveness, leadership skills and so on.

However, to illustrate the point and for simplicity, we will apply the model to using a computer keyboard, an activity that many of us would like to improve.

Let’s start at the bottom of the diagram and work up.


The environment level is about where you use a keyboard, and also when.

It includes all your surroundings and such details as the height of the table in relation to the chair, the size and feel of the keyboard and even the ambient temperature.

What could you adjust about your typing environment that would help improve your typing?


Your behaviours are what you actually do. These are the specific actions and reactions taken within the environment. For typing, this involves behaviours like moving fingers and hands to depress the keys, and sitting at your desk.

You may need to learn new behaviours that you have never done before, such as using your non-index fingers hit a key. What other behaviours would be useful to learn?


This is about the capabilities, skills and techniques that direct your behaviour so that you can type meaningful sequences of letters at a reasonable speed. Your competence allows you to coordinate your actions and behaviours into complex sequences. Without competence, you can type gibberish, but not understandable words.

Competence with a keyboard comes from learned patterns and sequences of muscle movements combined with pictures and sounds in your mind. To improve your typing, you will need to enhance these patterns through practice combined with feedback in a continuous improvement process.


Your beliefs provide the reinforcement that supports or denies your capabilities. You could say that beliefs provide motivation and permission. Of course, they can also demotivate or deny permission.

For example, if you believe that you cannot type well, you will limit the speed and accuracy of your typing even if at a physical level, you are capable of doing better. You will effectively limit the level of skill you can progress to. Your beliefs become self fulfilling prophecies.


Your identity is who you are, and this shapes your beliefs. What do you say about yourself in relation to using a keyboard?

Do you say ‘I am a typist ’ or ‘I am learning to type ’

What do you identify with? What comes after ‘I am....’


This is about your ‘spiritual’ self in the widest context. It is about your connection with all that is greater than you. How does your typing ability connect you to others and the world around you?

You can see that each level influences all those below it in the diagram. Change and learning can take place at any level, but it will be more pervasive and lasting if the change is made at a higher level.

To find out how this works in practice, try the Logical levels at work exercise.

There is more on the Logical Levels model in the NLP topic.