photo by 9-lives
Imagine a large elephant and a relatively small rider, making their way through the jungle. Now imagine the elephant sees something they’re interested in and heads that direction…at that point, the rider is literally carried away, even if that’s not where they wanted to go!
That’s a key premise in Switch (How to change when change is hard) by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. As the title suggests, this is a book about effecting change…within yourself, your family or your business and it’s full of great stories and a lot of practical ideas.
What’s the deal with the elephant and the rider? They’re part of an analogy originally developed by Jonathan Haidt – author of The Happiness Hypothesis. The elephant represents your emotional side and the rider is the analytical / rational part of you. Think about it this way – it’s mid afternoon, you’re kind of hungry and you know there’s a leftover doughnut laying on a plate in the other room. Rationally you know you don’t need to doughnut, they’re fried rings of death! However you also know they taste great and emotionally that doughnut would make you feel really good. For most people, the elephant is going to win that battle fairly quickly and you are going to eat that doughnut!
That’s what really cool about Switch – they give you a practical framework to not only understand why we act the way we do, but also tools that can help you do something about it.