Thursday 23 May 2013

Find your inner Picard

Metaphors are a powerful tool that can be used to facilitate change. The main reason for this power is connected with the saying ‘if a picture paints a thousand words’, because a metaphor can paint a thousand pictures. Which means when talking about a problem using metaphor there’s more information being communicated and therefore more options and solutions available than when we’re simply using the words. Metaphors are also a great way of bypassing our conscious logical mind that may want to analyse and sensor what’s been said or resist change.

“ I’m stuck in a rut” becomes a conversation about the rut, how they’re stuck, how to get unstuck and other places they can now travel within the landscape. We don’t get lost in the content of the real situation. We simply explore the patterns that are facilitating the stuckness and therefore can identify what needs to happen to be unstuck. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy using them sooooo much - I love patterns.

I’ve very effectively used gardening as a metaphor for purchasing in business, and landscapes as metaphors for success in your life. Sometimes however someone mentions a metaphor that makes more sense to them and it’s then a case of exploring that metaphor with them. Not in a clean language way as advocated by David Groves, but more intuitively by asking questions that enable them to explore the meaning and solutions hidden within their metaphor.

The most intriguing metaphor I’ve discussed in a coaching setting was when I asked the question “do you want to do x or watch your favourite star trek episode’ of a client. x was a list of things they wanted to do, and I had intended to explore their ‘get up and go’ for each of the options by asking the question. However their answer led us to explore the patterns and moral of the story of their favourite episode. Which led me to set them some ‘homeplay’ (never homework please) to identify the episodes they resonated with currently and those that represented how they wanted life to be like in the future. Subsequent sessions, discussing the outcome of this request, enabled them to release their inner Picard (for those that don’t know he’s Captain of the Enterprise on Star Trek and pictured above) and to then understand what the right option was, and more importantly, had the get up and go for. **

Such a great reminder that the solution to many of our problems are in the metaphors we use. They’re not simply words but stories full of potential and opportunity.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring change inside and out by Landscaping Your Success

** please note - this only needs to make sense to the person whose metaphor it is. That's the beauty of metaphors. So long as others can ask questions to help you understand the meaning of the metaphor you'll find your own solution. So long as it provides insight and enables you to achieve your goals why would it need to make sense to anyone else. It's your metaphor not anybody else's. Which is why clean language, as mentioned above, can help because our interpretation of the metaphor won't then effect the questions being asked and 'muddy' their metaphor.
Picture source: via Alison on Pinterest

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