Chip and Dan Heath’s new book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, shows how to speed up change processes by using psychological research on how the brain works. The book is about change. The authors drive many of their conclusions from a basic premise: our minds are driven by two components. One of these is emotional and the other is rational.
The authors relate a great story from the psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who talks about a human riding atop an elephant.
The story likens the emotional mind to an elephant and the rational mind to a rider. The force and power of the elephant directs most of our behavior, while the rider represents the rational (analytical, planning) mind sitting passively on top of the elephant thinking he's steering. The elephant has a six-ton advantage in deciding where to go! In order to achieve change, the rider needs to know where to go – and the massive elephant needs to be motivated.
The danger is when, intellectually, we decide change is needed and we set out a rational path to achieve it. Formal, executive power can help smooth the path for the elephant – but executive power alone won’t motivate the elephant. Before using power, it’s important to first align the rider and the elephant. Without motivation the elephant won’t follow the path. To change, people have to believe that they can successfully make the required change. Otherwise, they are not motivated.
I'll continue with this analogy next time. The Heath's book offers lots of good insights about the power of emotional intelligence. In the case of the Legion of Christ, I suppose I could liken the "formal power" to the Vatican's Apostolic visitation and the recommendations that will ensue. Those recommendations will mandate a path and prepare an environment.
For the Legionaries to go down that path, forsaking Fr. Maciel, we'll need to have rider and elephant aligned. They will have to believe that they can succeed - and for that they will need our support. Judicious support now - not later. That's if we really want to help them change.
Otherwise, lecture them, berate them, condemn them, seek to disband them and anything else we can think of to sap every last ounce of motivation from them so that the elephant never goes down the path chosen by the "formal power."