The Elephant and the Rider

There is a general assumption that we are in control of our own decisions.  It is often assumed that our conscious mind makes informed choices based on rational thought which then guides our life.  Unfortunately, this is far from the truth as our emotional mind is often far more powerful than we care to admit.

switchChip and Dan Heath discuss this dilemma in their book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.  They use an image from the work of psychologist Jonathon Haidt of the “Elephant and the Rider.”  The Elephant is our emotional mind, which is big, strong, and reactive.  The Rider is the logical side which is purposeful, rational, and factual.  As the Heath’s explain on pg.7:

“Anytime the six ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the rider is going to lose.  He’s completely over matched.”

The Heath brothers then present a three stage model to empower the Rider to move the Elephant in the right direction in order to make a switch.  The model is useful for changing habits, planning for the future, and making calm choices in the face of emotionally charged issues.

Check out Switch today.  You can also get resources from the Heath brothers web site following a free registration process.

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