What Keeps Us from Living Up to Our Potential and How to Overcome It?. Maximilien, on his website says, People who have never been up there before have to choose whether to jump or climb down. The elephant is the part of the brain that is emotional. Now, it was the elephant that was controlling the people in the experiment above. The reason why some people are able to go ahead and take the plunge is because their elephants trust their riders a lot. So, when it comes to taking this risk or facing this challenge (or for that matter any similar challenge, where there is no mortal danger), the elephant is able to trust the rider (albeit after a bit of coaxing Ė this is exactly what happens when you tell yourself, common, you can do it or something similar) and hence takes the plunge with the rider. This is because, our elephant doesnít trust our riders enough, yet. Just like in any relationship, we can do work to build this trust. In order to do so, we need to take tiny steps, that the elephant is uncomfortable but not crippled and show that it is ok. Then as trust builds, continue to increase the amount of risk and ambiguity so that the elephant starts to trust the rider and his senses. As long as we are able to get our elephants to trust our rider, we will be able to move forward and take some of these risks and have a better chance of fulfilling our potential.
Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson are documentary filmmakers based in Gothenburg, Sweden, who have worked together since 2013. They created a short film where they recruited 67 people who have never jumped into a swimming pool from a height of 10m (by paying them an equivalent of 30 USD) and filmed these participants while they decided to jump or not and their actual jump.
Maximilien, on his website says,
People who have never been up there before have to choose whether to jump or climb down. The situation itself highlights a dilemma: to weigh the instinctive fear of taking the step out against the humiliation of having to climb down.
TEN METER TOWER is an entertaining study of the human in a vulnerable position.
Before we move on and I share my perspective about the experiment and the dilemma, lets first watch the video.
What is Happening here
In my opinion, the experiment not only captures the emotions of the participants really well, it also informs us of human behaviour, when confronted with a difficult choice.
This difficult choice could be about quitting a bad job, could be about starting a new venture, could be about getting out of a bad relationship or even about having a difficult conversation with someone we care about. Each one of these situations, puts us in a very similar position as the dilemma faced by the participants in the study.
And we typically react the same way that the participants react. Some of us chicken out and some of us are able to push through the fear and uncertainty and face the fear. It is easier when see someone do it just before we attempt.
This fear of unknown or ambiguity is the single biggest reason why most people never realise their true potential and many dreams are never fulfilled. There are myriad reasons why this fear is so crippling, not just psychologically but physically as well.
One way to explain this fear is something that Jonathan Haidt proposed. He argues that the human mind can be likened to the combination of a rider and an elephant that he rides. The rider is the part of the brain that is rational system. This is the part that can plan and decide based on evidence and data. The elephant is the part of the brain that is emotional. This system is geared towards survival and if there is a remote chance that this system senses any danger, it can and will override all other system and control our reactions.
Now, it was the elephant that was controlling the people in the experiment above. Their rider knows that they are…