The Elephant and its Rider

“Our emotional is an Elephant and our rational side is its Rider. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.”

“The weakness of the Elephant, our emotional and instinctive side, is clear: It’s lazy and skittish, often looking for the quick payoff (ice cream cone) over the long-term payoff (being thin)… … Changes often fail because the Rider simply can’t keep the Elephant on the road long enough to reach the destination… … Elephant’s hunger for instant gratification is the opposite of the Rider’s strength, which is the ability to think long-term, to plan, to think beyond the moment”

“But… … the Elephant isn’t always the bad guy. Emotion is the Elephant’s turf — love and compassion and sympathy and loyalty… … the elephant is the one who gets things done. To make progress toward a goal… … requires the energy and drive of the Elephant.”

“If you want to change things, you’ve got to appeal to both. The Rider provides the planning and direction and the Elephant provides the energy.”

~ by Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their new book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard“, quoting a concept by Jonathan Haidt stated in his book “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom