Josh Matthews-Morgan: Today we’re going to talk about why making a change is sometimes so hard. See, most people go about it like this: they think that, to make a change, you have to give yourself or give the person you’re trying to help change, lots of reasons why you should make that change.
But really reasons aren’t where it’s at, reasons don’t actually help make you change. If you really want to make a permanent change, you have to tap into your feelings and you have to get your feelings on board. Your feelings really rule.
So Nita’s going to explain why that’s the case.
Nita Matthews-Morgan: Ok, so this is a cool metaphor that’s from Jonathan Haidt who wrote the Happiness Hypothesis and it was popularized by Chip and Dan Heath in their book Switch.
Just imagine a little tiny rider on top of this huge elephant. The rider is you, your conscious controlled thought and the elephant is everything else. It’s huge, right? So these are your emotions, your gut feelings, your intuition. And, turns out, these are mainly hidden in your subconscious.
So, even though the rider can make a decision to take the elephant somewhere and they can use will power for a short while, this elephant’s really big and you’re handling the reigns and you’re getting kind of tired and as soon as you get tired you drop the reigns and the elephant takes over and crashes into the bushes and you’re barely hanging on, right?
JMM: Mhm, yep.
NMM: The short story is that the elephant, your feelings, really rules. Your feelings are more powerful than your thought. So here’s an example. You could use several examples, but we’re going to use one about…
JMM: …if you wanted to lose weight.
NMM: If you want to lose weight, okay.
JMM: Ok, so I’ll be the rider, I’m the conscious mind, and…
NMM: …I’ll be the elephant.
JMM: She’ll be the elephant. She’s more powerful than me anyways. That’s probably accurate.
JMM: So, you know, you might start off really good in the morning, and, “I’m going to have a nice bowl of oatmeal with no kind of sweetener or anything like that, something really healthy, and maybe a fresh apple.” So, how you doing with that elephant?
NMM: So, okay start of the morning it’s okay.
JMM: Okay, you go on, you know, you decide to have a nice healthy snack and maybe your elephant’s okay with that, maybe not. By the time you get to lunch, you decide, I’m going to eat a tuna sandwich, I’m really determined to lose this weight…
NMM: With mayonaise?
JMM: Yeah, with healthy mayonaise, low-fat mayonaise. Is that okay, elephant?
NMM: Ok, yeah.
JMM: So by the time you get to dinner, your conscious mind might be saying, well I really should eat that grilled chicken breast that I’ve got in the fridge…
NMM: Uh, steak.
JMM: You think steak?
NMM: Steak. Baked potato.
JMM: You think?
NMM: Sour cream.
JMM: I don’t know, I’m really trying to be on this plan. I really want to lose weight.
NMM: I’m getting pretty tired. Steak, baked potato, sour cream.
JMM: Alright, I’ll do steak and the baked potato but not sour cream, how about that? That’ll be our compromise.
NMM: Butter. Butter.
JMM: Butter, butter’s ok. Alright and then maybe at nighttime, when your defenses are really down and you don’t have much willpower…
NMM: Beer and chips.
JMM: You think?
JMM: No, but that’s really completely off my plan.
NMM: I know, but I want it.
JMM: You’re right, that does sound really good. I’ll do beer and chips. Beer and chips it is.
So, you see how your elephant can sabotage sometimes even the best laid intentions.
The takeaway from all this is that if you want to make changes, you really can’t appeal to your reason, you have to get your feelings on board. You have to get both the rider and the elephant going in the same direction.
Now that’s our specialty, is helping people and helping teams make those changes and getting their feelings and align them with what they really want. And so we’re going to be sharing with you lots of different processes and cool ways that you can do that.
But for now, just know that if change is a little bit tough for you to make or you’re seeing one of your teammates struggle to make the change that they want in their life, just know that it’s probably that the elephant is riding in the opposite direction that their rider wants to go.
So that way you can be a little bit easier about the whole process and really have a deeper understanding of what’s going on.
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