In the book “Switch”, by Dan and Chip Heath, they talk about finding Bright Spots to help foster change. If your big changes have proved elusive, you’re not alone. So what’s the deal here? It all comes down to the everlasting conflict of the Rider (your rational brain) and the Elephant (your emotional brain). We know what you’re thinking, what a weird analogy – keep reading.
Your Rider (rational brain) and Elephant (emotional brain) are often at odds with one another, which is why change can be so difficult. Our Riders can see the merit in setting goals to make needed changes. Our Elephants don’t like change because it is easier to stay the same.
If you are looking to make a big change, or pivot, in your life or organization, you need to find a way to inspire both your Rider and your Elephant. Short-term, S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals are not very inspirational to your emotional Elephant. Your Rider LOVES these! The problem is the Rider sometimes lacks the endurance needed to overcome the Elephant. This can also be referred to as will power.
So, how can you engage your Elephant and get them on board with the change? Enter the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG). In their book “Switch”, Dan and Chip Heath refer to this as “painting a destination postcard”. Using vivid words or images, you create an irresistible future that is only possible with hard work. This gets your Elephant on board. Now that you have buy-in, you can incorporate milestones to make this happen - these are your SMART goals.
Let’s oversimplify this process:
Elephants love vivid, long-term goals.
Riders love the S.M.A.R.T. goals that help you get there.
Both win in this situation!
Empowering both your Elephant and your Rider is an exercise in endurance. This said, once you have the tools in place to keep both of them satisfied, the big changes we mentioned earlier will be much more attainable. In our world, there is nothing quite like a good ol’ analogy to get things moving!