In a world of mass information, pandemics, misinformation, and conspiracy theories, it’s important to reflect on the limitations of our own thinking and our own behaviours. We need to work on finding ways to remove barriers in how we think and, in particular, how we can push back on our personal biases.
Interestingly enough, what’s worked best for me is when I’ve engaged with those that see the world differently than I do in important ways.
– Dr. Cami Ryan, Social Scientist
The Elephant and the Rider
What if I told you that your brain is comprised of two parts: one part is an elephant and the other part is its rider?
First, watch this 2 minute video:
The elephant, the rider, and the path – a tale of behavioural change (narrated by Dan Heath):
How often do you try to influence or change the minds of others? Now, think about when was the last time you changed your mind?
3 steps to removing barriers to our way of thinking:
- INVITE: Invite others along to join you as you navigate your own path. Any expectations that you may have, for example, to influence others and how they think is to FIRST start by permitting the rider (your rational brain), the elephant (your emotional mind), and your (thinking) path to be influenced by others.
- ENGAGE: Growth (and I’ve learned this the hard way and am still learning) comes through constantly reflecting on your personal biases; on how you can push back on them and reshape your worldview. This cannot be done without engaging in meaningful ways with other people.
- REFLECT: The best life lessons I’ve had are when I’ve taken alternative paths and seen things from a different perspective – no matter how uncomfortable that may have made me. That kind of mind growth comes with humble self-reflection and a willingness to lean into the discomfort of change and to make room for others on your journey.
In summary, how can we bring this metaphor to life and apply it in a real-world way?
Don’t wait for crises to happen to change your path and grow your mind. Start reflecting now. Invite others onto your path, ask for help in reshaping it and in removing barriers. Then lean in! Lean into the discomfort of changing your mind and seeing things from another perspective, especially on the important stuff. Then watch the magic happen!
Cami Ryan, PhD is the social and behavioral sciences lead for Bayer Crop Science. In her current role with Regulatory Scientific Affairs (RSA), she is responsible for strengthening relationships and engaging with social, behavioral, and political scientists. Cami and her husband, Blair – along with a variety of critters – live on a small horse farm just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. In her spare time, Cami paints, writes poetry, is a part-time theatre actress, and desperately tries to keep her growing collection of house plants alive and green. You can find Cami on Twitter @CamiDRyan , on Instagram @CamiDRyan or via her website: https://camiryan.com/.