Pike Syndrome

The pike is a large fish that survives by eating smaller fish. An experiment was conducted years ago where the pike was placed in a large fish tank.  Then several smaller fish were introduced into the tank, but separated from the pike by keeping them within in a large, bottomless, glass jar. The jar was submerged to the bottom of the tank, closing them off completely from the pike.  Of course, the pike didn’t know this and immediately struck at the minnows. In fact, the pike hit the glass over and over until, frustrated and “conditioned”, it settled at the bottom, right next to the minnows.  After a while, the jar was lifted, and the minnows swam all around the pike and throughout the large tank.  And yet, the pike remained motionless. Indeed, the pike never tried again and died in that tank with its main source of food and survival right in front of it!

Are we like that pike?

Do we have limiting beliefs that have conditioned our thinking, our actions and thus our results? Are we “too busy” to exercise, to sell more, to read, to even listen to our kids, our spouse, or our co-workers? Are we bad at remembering names? Are we living an average life, with average income, average cars, in an average home?  Do we have average thinking?

While many second generation successes throw away the hard-earned rewards of their parents’ efforts, many do not.  Many in fact, continue in their parents’ success – why?  I think it’s because they believe they can; it’s the “condition” they know because it’s what they grew up believing.

Steven Covey says, “If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigms.”  The researchers were successful in changing the pike’s paradigm towards its ability to eat the minnows and, consequently, condition the pike to starve itself.

We need to assess our paradigms, our “Pike Syndromes”, and determine how we should view life rather than simply accepting it as we see it now. Change those paradigms by getting around those with the perspective you want.

If you want more time, more focus, and more energy – find those who seem to have it. Learn how they think; choose to be influenced by them, and you’ll eventually gain their paradigm.

Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd proved this in the classic 1983 movie Trading Places. Time to trade places – become what you want, not necessarily what you have.