The Rider, The Elephant and The Path


My business is all about making things easy for my clients. What I’ve learned is that making things easy isn’t the only secret to success. My clients need direction and motivation too. Getting the right mix of all three can be a challenge but, when it comes together, wonderful working relationships result.


Chip and Dan Heath, in their new book “Switch”, use a wonderful metaphor – of riding an elephant. The book is all about creating change, in ourselves and in others. Here are 3 basic ways to do that:
  • Direct the Rider: appeal to our brain
  • Motivate the Elephant: appeal to our heart
  • Shape the Path: make it easy
While I’m all about shaping the path, I still have to direct the rider and motivate the elephant – both for myself and for my clients. I tend to try directing the rider first. Clear instructions should yield results… or so I think. Then I wonder why nothing happens. I have to remind myself… it is one thing to “get it” intellectually but quite another to “get it” emotionally.


This simple way of looking at change can be applied to a lot of things, from marketing messages to facilitation techniques to dealing with our teenagers. If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear about how you’re applying the ideas to your work/life (email me). If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do – you won’t be disappointed: “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath.


Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on October 27, 2010

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