The Pike Syndrome

A classic experiment was first conducted in 1873 by a German zoologist by the name of Dr. Karl Mobius. Dr. Mobius put a large pike in a tank of water and fed the pike small bait fish. After awhile, he divided the tank by inserting a heavy pane of glass in it. Then, he dropped the small, prey fish into the section separated from the pike by the glass.

The pike—an aggressive, voracious eater—charged the little fish. It charged over and over, and each time the pike charged into the fish to eat them, it crashed violently into the pane of glass. Sometimes it was so stunned by the impact that it floated upside down for a few minutes before recovering its senses. After a number of painful attempts, the pike gave up and no longer tried to get at the bait fish.

When Dr. Mobius finally removed the pane of glass, the pike and its prey peacefully shared the tank. The pike had learned that pursuing the prey fish caused severe headaches. From then on, it would only eat food given to it by Dr. Mobius.

Researchers in the U.S. and Canada have repeated Mobius’s experiment with the same results. Some have actually allowed the pike to starve to death, even as minnows swam around it and bumped into its head and mouth.

Reluctant and fearful behavior that is based on assumptions that are no longer true has since become known as “The Pike Syndrome.”

Most of us are not much different from the pike. We let self-limiting beliefs, past failures, or perceived shortcomings hold us back from new efforts. When that prospect turned you down. When your boss ridiculed your great idea. When you couldn’t remember someone’s name at a party. If you let experiences like these stop you, you create for yourself an ever-shrinking “comfort zone.”

See the opportunities around you. Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be a victim of “The Pike Syndrome!”

Next Steps

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Joe Fehrmann- Senior Trainer & Consultant at The Rainmaker Companies