It was Heraclitus who is first quoted as saying: “Change is the only thing that is constant.”
First of all, doesn’t this quote beg the question: How much change was going on around 500 years before the birth of Christ, compared to today?
I guess there was the constant threat of being attacked by your enemies, most illnesses had no cure and getting on the wrong side of the emperor could separate your head from your body, or worse!
Change is definitely faster today but, for the most part, the direct consequences are less serious than they were twenty five hundred years ago.
What has not changed is the length we humans will go through to avoid change.
Why, you ask?
Well, at only two percent of our body, our brains consume twenty percent of our energy. This means that our brains are constantly looking to conserve energy, and one of the best ways to conserve energy is to avoid change.
The main way our brains avoid change and conserve energy is through habits.
The American Journal of Psychology defines a habit as “…a fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”
Now that’s definitely worth noting– Habits are acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.
Another way our brain conserves energy is with mental models.
“A mental model is an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world.” —Wikipedia
Here’s what Charlie Munger, one of the greatest investors ever, says about mental models:
“80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly-wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.”
The following are three excellent examples of mental models we like to use in our research and to run our companies:
Perato Principle — Also known as the 80/20 rule, states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Dunbar’s Number — Suggests a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.
What Gets Measured Gets Done — Some folks might say this one is not a mental model in its truest sense, but I would argue that it definitely is, because it’s a simple saying that represents a more complex thought process.
So what kind of change are you dealing with?
Or better yet…
What mental models do you use to get things done and make change happen?
Give it some thought and, while you’re at it, find a mental model to help your brain conserve energy and figure it out faster.