Our thoughts, feelings, and actions, what we call TFA, drive the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we act.  

Transformation Is a Process 

If we are really going to be transformational leaders, let’s remember that transformation is a process. It comes from the Greek word metamorphoo from which we get our word metamorphosis. It means we change from something we are to something else. The best example is the process that forms a butterfly, from an egg, a larva, a pupa, and finally the butterfly. As transformational leaders who can change and transform from something we are to something else, we can impact the spheres of society in which we work and live and change those places from something they are to something else. We can change things that presently seem overwhelming and that are growing at a growing rate. They’ll continue to grow at a growing rate unless we as leaders have the courage to step up and say enough is enough.  

Changing Your Thought 

I want to share with you a thinking model that research shows how our brain works. All through our lives, things are happening day-to-day. Our senses are being stimulated. Whether it’s through touch, look, behaviors, smell, or taste, our senses are stimulated. That’s what we call an event that takes place. When an event takes place in our lives, the first thing that happens is a thought occurs. And from that thought, a feeling is generated. Then from that feeling, an action, a reaction, or behavior is chosen. That same brain research shows that if the same event takes place and we have the same thought and the same feeling, that, right then, we can pause and change the thought. We then change the feeling. And if we can change the feeling, then we get a different action, a different behavior, or a different reaction. If we can learn to get a different reaction and different behavior, then we create a different culture, a different organization, and a different relationship, even those relationships within our family.  

The truth is if we keep thinking inside this box, in other words, if we keep thinking the way we’ve always thought, we’re going to keep feeling the way we’ve always felt. If we keep feeling the way we’ve always felt, we’re going to keep behaving the way we’ve always behaved. If we keep behaving the way we’ve always behaved, we’re going to keep getting the same results we’ve always gotten. Those results in our culture right now are that all those smart people with big hearts have lost a lot of influence in the world. And those people who are having a lot of influence and a big voice are the people we keep reading about and the voices we hear. They are the ones who are dominating our media. That’s who’s in the media, who’s on television, and who’s on-line. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for those people who are smart with big hearts to have a far greater influence than those who don’t have big hearts and who are not focused on having a positive impact on our world 

Changing the Outcome 

If you would stop and identify something that really affects you emotionally, you realize that you experience both thoughts and feelings about that thing. If you would take a minute and write down your thoughts about this person, thing, or event, you can see that your thoughts are probably connected to the feelings you feel about it or them. And that feeling would probably generate a response or behavior.   

For me, there are some places in my past where I don’t want the same outcome or response I used to have. I don’t want a failing marriage because I had not been faithful and had cheated on my wife. I don’t want that outcome. I want the outcome I have now, a restored and healthy marriage based on trust and truth and forgiveness. But what I had to do was change my thought so that my feeling changed so that my behavior changed. Why is that thought of a healthy marriage so important to me? Because I never want to forget what those feelings of guilt and shame felt like so that I never let myself step into those old behaviors again.  

Simple, But Not Easy 

We need to have this important understanding that when an event takes place, if we can change the thought, we can change the feeling and change the behavior. That may sound like a very simple statement. It is a simple concept. It’s just like our muscles atrophying as we get older. It’s very simple to correct that. All we have to do is go lift weights and build them back up. We know that. However, lifting those weights…that’s not easy. Even though it’s simple, it’s not easy. That’s the way TFA is (thoughts, feelings, actions). When we change the thought, we know it changes the feeling, and that changes the action or the behavior. And while that sounds simple and clear, it’s not easy. Just like building up a muscle, we may need to practice that new thought to build it up. 

One of the things many of us have trouble with is dealing with other people, and we know the hippocampus situated in our brain can cause us to respond to events and people in our lives out of the experiences that are lodged there. Frequently, one of the thoughts I have in dealing with people that has helped me change so I could deal with some of them in a better way is a quote by Oswald Chambers. Oswald Chambers says it like this, “Remember, there is always one more thing about a person’s life that we know nothing about.”     

As transformational leaders, we can choose to change our thought which changes our feeling which changes our behavior. When we choose to engage in that simple-sounding process, even though it’s not easy, we can change the way we view ourselves, we can change the way we look at other people, and we can change our world by becoming one of those smart people with a big heart who desires to impact the world in positive ways.   

Ford Taylor is a leadership strategist, keynote speaker, and the author of Relactional Leadership. As the Founder of Transformational Leadership, he is known as a man who can solve complex business issues, with straightforward practical solutions, while maintaining his focus on people.