Bob the internal robot

If you have already travelled around the site a bit, you may have come across the mention of Bob. He is an important part of the Cow Path Model of Change.™ You can see the central role he plays when we picture change practically,

When you move through the beginner program, you will choose a name for your own primitive internal robot. I refer to him as Bob throughout the program for simplicity.


Bob is the subconscious mind, and we represent him as an internal robot who is literal, stubborn, and prefers the status quo. Bob is lazy and loves what is familiar, even when what is familiar is not in our best interest.

You can think of Bob as an entity “nurtured” into being over time. He has absorbed data via external programming (early authority figures and environment). His ideas, truths, and perception of reality are not necessarily accurate or helpful. Sometimes his outdated beliefs and patterns do not align with our innate potential or current goals.

Bob does not care whether our ways of being (thoughts, feeling, and behaviors) serve us. He just is not interested. He is content to stay on old cow paths.


Yes, everyone has a Bob, but most people do not recognize this. Not understanding this fact puts us at a disadvantage. But, once you realize how Bob operates, you will have more empathy for yourself and others. And, when we begin to see why we think, feel, and behave as we do, we are in a position to influence Bob.

Much of what we (and others) think feel, and do daily is automatic. Some habitual ways of being serve us, and some keep us from reaching our potential and goals. Rather than engaging in higher-level processes, we allow Bob to take the reigns.

We often forget that we are capable of critical thinking, creative planning, and deliberate action. We forget that we are meant to grow. We forget that we are naturally curious creatures who deeply desire expression and expansion.

Bob loves it when we “forget” these parts of ourselves; if he had his way, we would stay stuck on old cow paths.


How we perceive ourselves is deeply rooted. Bob has absorbed an identity, hook, line, and sinker. We develop our self-concept over time, usually during highly vulnerable developmental periods, before we have the capacity to reason.

Bob absorbed a set of beliefs before our higher-level cognitive abilities developed. Bob likes to hold onto the old stuff. This clinginess often gets in the way of us moving forward and creating an updated sense of self more aligned with our potential and goals.

Bob does not care that we will never outperform our identity. He is not interested in whether we develop a greater belief in ourselves. He is not interested in whether we perceive ourselves as the confident CEO of our life.


Creating a new cow path requires us to get Bob on board. But Bob digs in his heels when we edge toward a new cow path. Can you imagine a toddler refusing to leave the playground?

We each have only so much time, energy, and willpower. So, having an adversarial relationship with Bob will not help us. When we rely on force long-term, we become depleted. This is when complacency develops. We give up on our efforts and try to convince ourselves that the status quo is ok.

We need to help Bob see that new ways of being are plausible, manageable, and safe. He must learn that new cow paths can eventually be easy, familiar, and natural.

The better we understand him, the easier it is to meet his learning needs. And, once we meet his learning needs, we are in a better position to begin nudging him down new cow paths. The relationship we develop with our "Bob" may be one of the most important ones we ever have.


P.S. Have you listened to the AUDIO POST -The Cutlery Drawer Experiment? 6.26 mins