Make it Matter, and They’ll Make it Happen

Conventional wisdom tells us, if we want to influence, inspire, or motivate others to take action, all we need to do is show them facts, charts, graphs, and statistics.  However, as we can see, science suggests differently.  It’s actually emotion and feelings which provide the energy and ultimate inspiration to take action, change directions, and change behavior.

NYU psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, used an analogy in his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, which paints the picture of what’s going on inside the human brain at all times.  Science tells us that we have two systems in our brains:  an emotional side of the brain and a logical side of the brain.  Haidt’s analogy of the human brain is an elephant with a person riding it saddled up on its back.  

The rider illustrates the logical side of the brain, which is responsible for reasoning, analyzing, planning, and our intellectual understanding.  The elephant illustrates the emotional side of the brain, which is of course responsible for emotions and instinctively feeling pain or pleasure.  

Consider the metaphor of a human rider perched atop a six-ton elephant.  While the rider may provide the analytical support to move or go in a certain direction (or change behavior), the elephant, with a six-ton weight advantage, however, provides the energy to move.  

If the rider and the elephant ever disagree, the elephant will always overpower the rider.  

This is why change is so hard, and why it can be difficult to lead certain people to do certain things.  If they don’t feel it, they won’t do it.

In order to inspire and motivate people, we have to “direct the rider”, giving clear expectations and the information, tools, and support for them to succeed.  More importantly, as Jonathan Haidt’s analogy depicts, in order to inspire action, leaders have to find and motivate “the elephant”.  

That is to say, leaders have to appeal to the emotions of those they lead.  

Put Hospitality into action:

  • Challenge yourself, as a leader, to find ways to connect with and inspire both the HEARTS and the MINDS of those you lead.

“Make it matter, and they’ll make it happen.” – Robin Arzon, VP of Fitness Programming – Peloton 

PS – Commit to connecting with your team. Establish a deeper emotional connection with your team based on trust, purpose, and productivity. In my learning experience, “Commitment to Connection” leaders will learn how to leverage those connections to maximize the potential of those they lead. Learn more here.