Four Stages of Transformation


“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ― Cynthia Occelli

Every living thing goes through certain stages of growth, from birth to full maturity. This is how it is supposed to be and the more we simply allow this natural process to take place, the healthier and more complete our development will be.

Many of us, often in mid-life, experience an “awakening” that launches us into a new cycle of development–a transformation. We uncover something that has been hidden in our hearts since our birth. We hear a music playing, ever so faintly, in our souls that causes us to dance through life in a different way. We discover our passion, our purpose, our calling.

Caterpillars transform into Butterflies. When we awaken to our purpose and calling, we go through a similar transformation, changing from what we have been all our lives to what we were really created to be.

Understanding the stages of transformation is very helpful to those of us going through it. It is also helpful in guiding others through it, as we recognize and encourage the transformation of our loved ones.

Stage 1: Awakening

You start to hear that small voice, the faint music,  the warming feeling of potential growing inside you. When you recognize this and grasp the potential of what you really can become, this is when the change actually takes place. Transformation doesn’t happen when you arrive at the destination. It happens when you realize that the destination exists and it’s possible for you to get there.

I didn’t become a “Marathon Runner” upon the completion of my first marathon, nor upon the completion of some portion of my first marathon training program. I became a Marathon Runner the instant I saw the faint light of potential and believed in the possibility that I could become one.

There comes a time when you become aware of a possibility for yourself that you were previously unaware of. The possibility always existed; you were just blind to its reality. This is the hatching of your heart.

Stage 2: Growing Wings

As soon as a baby bird hatches, awakens, from its shell, it is fully a bird. It is not a fully mature bird, capable of its full potential, but it has everything it needs to become what it was created to be. It must go through a period of growth, learning to chirp, to waddle on its awkward legs, to grow feathers and lose its down, to strengthen its muscles and allow its wings to grow.

This is the phase when we take in the nourishment God provides us and we become more comfortable with the awareness of what we really are. This is the time for allowing the seeds of hope and potential to grow within us. This is a stage of visualizing our future and allowing the excitement to grow.

Stage 3: Learning to Fly

Trying, experimenting, falling down, getting up, trying again, gradually getting more things right, going farther and farther, becoming more and more of what we were created to be. We try, we test, we study how others got to their level of mastery. We talk to others about our vision of becoming this new creation. We ask for help, and find mentors.

This is also a period of redirecting and gaining clarity about who are are to become. You may start out thinking you are a sprinter but, after growing and learning our gifts, discover you are a long distance runner. You may start out wanting to major in biology, then discover your deep gladness while studying psychology. Eventually, you learn what you are truly created to become and devote your life to that calling.

Stage 4: Soaring

We have discovered, as Frederick Buechner describes, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

In the phase, we are confident in our abilities, our giftedness and our calling to this new life. We are in love with our new life and we truly feel the “deep gladness” and see how the world is a better place for us having transformed into what we were created to be.

We are truly alive, vibrating with energy and excitement for who we are, for still more potential to grow into, and for the positive influence we are having in the lives of others.

Hear the music, dance your dance. Others may not hear your music. That’s OK. It is for you, not for them. They have their own music, should they choose to listen to it. As Nietzsche said “those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn’t hear the music!”

Do you hear it? The music was born at the same time you were. It was planted deep inside you by your Creator. We often don’t hear it until we learn to quiet the noise of life, our domestication, and the expectations of others.

You were created to be YOU! I hope you dance! I hope you embrace your transformation.

— You may hear me speak about this and other similar topics on my Life Is A Marathon podcast

10 Responses to Four Stages of Transformation

  1. Elise November 3, 2015 at 7:52 AM #

    Really good timing for me to read this. Happy you took the time to be reflective and write the
    article and glad I found it as I take on a new position in a familiar area but newer section, new geography. Your work helps me to cope with the challenge!

    • Hunde November 11, 2015 at 8:11 PM #

      Me too, never a better time to read this, I started hearing the music last year, then I realize it was all I can do, cos of the joy I feel doing it, I think I am in stage 2 right now.

  2. Jed November 19, 2015 at 9:42 PM #

    “You were created to be YOU! I hope you dance! I hope you embrace your transformation.” Awesome! And a beautiful description of the growth process. I’m wondering if these stages are fluid? I can point to times in my life when I felt I was soaring. Today, it feels like I am once again learning to fly. Perhaps these four stages are repeated multiple times throughout life?

    Either way, a very encouraging post, and I’m looking forward to soaring again, one day soon 🙂

    • Bruce November 20, 2015 at 6:34 AM #

      Jed, yes, they are very fluid! You move in and out of the stages throughout your life because we grow in so many different ways. Thanks for the kind words!

  3. oglalagirl December 29, 2015 at 2:34 AM #

    I am learning to fly! this excites me and it scares me too. fear seems to hold me back alot. how do i move past that?

  4. Milena July 18, 2016 at 3:32 PM #

    Such a simple way of seeing living from a new perspective. My spirit was uplifted by your words. Being sensitive and compassionate I have stumbled many times in my life. Still had the yearning so got up and danced some more. Thank you. Bless you.

  5. Christina Johnson February 22, 2018 at 12:30 PM #

    I’ve found that my life is divided into several areas and I am always in various stages in theses different areas. I may be soaring in a couple of areas, learning to fly in one area, growing wings in a couple areas, and having a re-awakening in another. It seems the Infinite Creator is always creating & so am I.

    Great article, Bruce!

  6. Alessandro Tinchini March 29, 2018 at 7:06 PM #

    I just read this post, three years later. But it fits perfectly with the actual time of my life. The essence of what you’re talking about is all here in my present time.
    After many years of failure, I’m only just beginning to grasp the meaning of my path and I’m seeing it open.
    What I feel is simply divine.

  7. Prince-Brown December 16, 2018 at 2:11 AM #

    Great piece. I love this. I am inspired.

  8. Adolf August 1, 2019 at 7:26 AM #

    It’s just perfect timing for me, I just discovered my purpose God created me for. Sm developing wings and enjoying every bit of it.

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