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Never Try To Reason With An Elephant

Frank Goertzen 02 September 2011 0 comments

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my axe. - Abraham Lincoln

Hi readers - my name is Frank Goertzen (aka Fresh Apricot) and although you may have met me before during a webinar or on the Wild Apricot forums, this is my first time contributing to our blog.  

And I'm writing this post today because, like you, I want to make things better. It's actually something I think about all the time, especially when it comes to Wild Apricot. I think about how our help and support can be better, how Wild Apricot can be easier for new users and even dream about how we'll go mobile.

But thinking and dreaming about change is one thing - we all know that when it comes time to introduce it, resistance can build up from all sides and drain the excitement out of the change you want to create.

Why do we resist change?

So what is it about change that seems to automatically trigger resistance? I thought about this for awhile but decided to ask Dmitri (our Chief Apricot) what he thought. And after a good discussion he recommended that I read Switch by Chip and Dan Heath to help me understand why change is usually resisted and what you can do about it.

But I'm not sure he realized just what an impact Switch had on me, because once I finished reading it I immediately wanted to share it with everyone in screaming distance. And screaming worked well enough to convince a few of my colleagues to read it. But Lori suggested a more effective approach would be to write a post about it in our blog to share the lessons in Switch with all our blog readers. Challenge excepted Lori!

What's it all about?

In Switch, the authors use the analogy of the ‘Elephant' and ‘the Rider' to represent the two conflicting forces in all of our mind - the animal mind (elephant) and the logical brain (the rider).

The elephant acts on emotions and usually prefers routine and things familiar over the potential future benefits of making a change.

The rider, on the other hand, is the future-oriented part of the brain that is busy making plans and trying new things. This is the ‘you' that wants to lose weight, launch that great event or try social media for your association.  When they work together towards the same goal, they're unstoppable, but when they disagree on where to go, the rider almost always gets trampled by the louder and larger Elephant. That is of course unless you learn how to "Direct the Rider. Motivate the Elephant and Shape the path" as described in Switch.

How is Switch different?

So what's so special about Switch anyway? After all, aren't there already thousands of self-help, motivation and management books on the topic? How could this one be that different? Actually the principles aren't very different at all - but that's exactly the point that Switch makes! A good idea or even a great idea is never enough for a change to happen - you need to direct, motivate and shape the change through execution.

And that is where Switch is different from other management/self-help books, it doesn't just have lofty ideas with nice catch phrases but instead focuses on the actual steps you need to take in different scenarios to implement the changes you want to see.

And if any of the situations below sound familiar, then you really should take the time to read Switch yourself to see how you can move past them to get the change you want.

  • People don't see the need to change
  • People don't like ideas that aren't "invented here"
  • No one is motivated to change
  • Everyone wants the change - but they'll start ‘tomorrow'
  • People think is won't work
  • Everyone resists any change
  • Everyone started strong but then you lost momentum
  • Everyone thinks the change is just to big

Of course it's impossible (and probably illegal) to share all the ideas in Switch in just one post, but hopefully this visual will be enough to spark a few ideas for how you can direct, motivate and shape the change you want to see!

Frank Goertzen [Fresh Apricot] Frank Goertzen [Fresh Apricot]

Posted by Frank Goertzen [Fresh Apricot]

Published Friday, 02 September 2011 at 8:00 AM
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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