What to change when change is hard.

What to change when change is hard.

When we’re faced with change, our rational and emotional sides are often at odds. Our instinct is to do things the way they’ve always been done, while our mind tries to convince us otherwise.

But what if you could direct both of them toward the same goal?

NYU psychologist Jonathan Haidt uses an analogy to guide behavioural change: the Rider, the Elephant and the Path.

The Rider is the rational mind that plans, analyses and problem-solves (the logical part).

The Elephant is the emotional mind that provides the power for the journey and is associated with willpower, emotions and wants. 

Unsurprisingly, it’s stronger and more powerful than logic. Example: The rider says you should go to the gym, but the elephant says that you can go tomorrow instead.

The Path is the environment we have to traverse to get to our goal.

The Rider can have the clearest direction – but if the Elephant doesn’t want to move, or the Path is full of obstacles, we’ll never reach our goal.

To make real change happen, it’s essential to work on all three:

Direct the rider

Give direction and knowledge to the Rider to make informed decisions – what do they need to lead the way?

Motivate the elephant

Motivate the Elephant by tapping into emotions – what do they want to move forward?

Shape the path

Shorten the distance and remove the obstacles on your path – what’s in the way to reach our goal?

Watch this animated video to visualise Jonathan Haidt’s analogy of the Rider, the Elephant and the Path.

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