The Heath brothers’ argument is elegantly compressed into an image -- a three-part metaphor for thinking about change: a human Rider, sitting on the back of an Elephant, proceeding (or not) down a Path.
The rider represents the intellectual dimension of our decision-making and the elephant the emotional; note their relative sizes. The path is the environment in which we attempt to move towards change. Change can be very difficult because the rider may overthink the journey and be overwhelmed with choices; she may not know which direction to head in. The elephant is comfortable where he is, and would just as soon sit there. The path may not be easy to see, and it may be crowded with obstacles.
So the Heaths recommend that as we contemplate change, we consider three strategies, singly or in combination depending on the circumstances. We may have to direct the rider and be clear about where we want to go and what the first step in that direction looks like. We may have to motivate the elephant with a sense of passion and purpose. We may have to shape the path towards our destination by removing obstacles that currently block our progress, or widen the way through new resources or partnerships or policies.