The Law of the 3rd Level

Every Major Business Breakthrough Comes
From OUTSIDE Your Current Level Of Thinking


Why doing more of what you’re already doing will lead to failure

The “3rd level” is a metaphor. Here’s an example.

Level 1…
Let’s say you were about to sit in your favorite chair. You just wanted to be quiet and listen. Get in touch with yourself.

At first, you may hear the sound of people talking. The obvious sounds. The ones we normally pay attention to, consciously.

Level 2…
Then, after you settle in, you may hear “background” sounds. They may be the noise made by nearby traffic, the compressor in your refrigerator, the chirping of birds and so forth.

That’s the “second level.”

Level 3…
Then, however, you may notice sounds that you would never otherwise notice. They would certainly be different for everyone.

They may the quiet pumping of your heart as it pushes blood through the arteries near your ears. The particular way the air sounds as it rushes through your nose. The distinctive way the wind sounds as it moves through the birches on the south side, as opposed to the firs on the north.

That’s the “third level.” It usually doesn’t require more work to get to that level…but less work. It means allowing yourself to relax and listen closely enough to hear the real answers..

The Way Most Leaders Try to Improve Their Business

“THE LAW OF THE 3RD LEVEL” works in many situations. When consulting with businesses, for example, we usually find that the breakthroughs and solutions are not hard to find…but most people are simply looking in the wrong place. They’re looking in the “first level.”

This is why working harder is not the answer to business breakthrough…because most people will just work harder at the “first level.” 

That usually just creates more noise and confusion. Once you can separate “guilt” from taking more time off, you’ll see how it actually benefits your business!

  • The 1st Level: the level of the perilous obvious. The “1st Level” response is just working harder doing the same things. Work weekends, evenings, don’t take vacations, push people harder. The result is stress, burnout, staff turnover – and personal problems (health, family, etc.) that result is the precise opposite of what you were seeking.
  • The 2nd Level: the level of the tactical response. The “2nd Level” response is much healthier and often makes a measurable response in business health. This is where you study the successful methods of your competitors and other industry players and model them in your business. This generally limits your success, however, to the “norm” of the industry.  

(Dan Kennedy jokingly refers to this as “business in-breeding.” Soon, everyone starts looking the same and acting stupid, just like the other kind of in-breeding. If you examine the standard advertising in any industry, for example, you’ll soon find that they all look pretty much the same. This automatically gives anyone who jumps to the “3rd Level” an immediate advantage.

  • The 3rd Level: the level of the strategic breakthrough. It is where you venture outside your industry altogether and seek authentic breakthroughs. (This partly explains the success of HLP Coaching Clients, which for many years had been struggling to reach new levels)  

The multi-billion dollar drive-through window concept that McDonald’s copied from the banking industry is a major example of a “3rd Level” breakthrough.

In working with clients, my first job is to “break” their current paradigm of thinking – then they’re ready to unleash the power of level 2 and level 3 tools and strategies.

Remember, be a strategist, not just a doer!