Friday 17 October 2014

Metaphorical language - in need of a facelift

It's that time of year again and I'm watching and engaging as much as I can with One Young World - where inspirational young people from over 190 countries come together to share, collaborate and take action. It always leaves me inspired and motivated to also become the change I want to see in the world. After last week's rant don't be surprised therefore if corruption and wrong doing in business turns up here over the next few weeks.
Each year #OYW have many influential speakers - last year Richard Branson, this year Bob Geldoff, and if I'm not mistaken Kofi Annan has attended the last 3 years? This morning I saw a tweet quoting Michael Moller the acting Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
"The UN is a 70 year old lady that needs a face lift right away."
I and others on twitter where uncomfortable with the wording. This blog isn't going to address the rights and wrongs of what he said. What I'd like to do is explore the metaphor Moller used because to his unconscious that metaphor makes sense and therefore may provide a solution.
I've written before about the power of metaphor and explored how saying "making mountains out of molehills, no pain no gain, I'm stuck in a rut or I'm up a creek without a paddle" can provide the very solutions you think are out of reach. 
Let's explore the metaphor Moller used - or more importantly his use of "need for a face lift"- here's some insights I'd make (assuming Moller has spoken on behalf of the UN who agree with him):
  • They're feeling their human age
  • They're seeing an organisation as having the same life span of a human (you're certainly not 'old' at 70 if your life span is 300 years)
  • They're unhappy with what they're 'seeing'
  • They're potentially ignoring the underling causes of the wrinkles
  • They focusing on what they look like
  • They're only focusing on their face - and specifically certain aspects of it
  • They're just focusing on what they don't like 
  • They're not seeing it from other people's points of view
Which for me provides the following solutions:
  • Change is needed but more in how the UN think (see here my Pinterest board on 'age is in the imagination' or some coaching on limited beliefs might be useful ;-) )
  • Stop focusing on what you don't like and focus on what you do
  • Ask others what they admire in you
  • Get in touch with how you're feeling - if it's like a spring chicken then stop worrying
  • Embrace all the good you've achieved and know that can continue
  • If you really do have a human lifespan then how do you hand over to your children and grandchildren and stop pushing yourself so much (think that's where One Young World comes in)  
  • Embrace the behaviours that support well being - what ever your age - time in nature, nutrition, water, creativity, exercise, good doing and so on.
The longer you an stay with the metaphor the better because that way we stick with the structure and don't get caught up in the content (the he said this, you said that, then he did this and ... etc). So don't worry for now for example what wellbeing of the UN looks like. Just keep coming up with solutions if someone of 70 was suggesting they needed a facelift. Once you've exhausted all the responses then and only then try to relate it to the situation. (Although your unconscious is likely to be ahead of you on this and have already sorted out the solution )
I've said before (in this blog on finding your inner Picard - yes of Star Trek fame) the problem with me interpreting the metaphor is I'm not the one using it. To Michael my words may make no sense what so ever. That said a conversation at the UN about how they all relate to this saying and the solutions that emerge would be useful - so too at One Young World.
I would love to know what solutions this saying reminded you of?
Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out +44 7770 538159
I also use nature as a metaphor for life in Landscaping Your Life where nature provides the solutions. More here on Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook.
Gardening is a great metaphor for purchasing too - after all we know lawns need mowing and shrubs need pruning but often forget to do so with suppliers. Great for those stakeholders and managers new to procurement. 

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