Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Solutions’

What’s in the box? metaphors and imagery to solve your problems and get motivated

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

“It’s as if there’s a box and I’m afraid to open it because I don’t know what’s in there.  And if I look inside there’s all sorts of things, just jumbled up, they’re all wrapped up and I don’t know what any of them are.”

“How would you like that box to be?”

“I’d like it to be…..….like a filing box, like one of those card indexes  – everything neat and tidy so I can see exactly what needs to be done and when.  Phew, that would be such a relief!”

“And what do you need to do to get that filing box organized?”

“Hmmm – I just need to sit down with the box, unwrap all the ‘gifts’ and go through them all…in fact it won’t take me long ….…I just need to decide to sit down and do it…….yes I could do that, I could do it today in fact, I’ve got an hour later on!”

This is the power of metaphor to solve problems – and far more interesting and engaging than ‘how do I organise my in-tray??’

BarriersBarriers – what are they like?  Like a huge brick wall that you can PUNCH a big hole in?  like hurdles that you can leap over? Or a pane of glass where you can see everything you want almost in your grasp just the other side.   And then when you step back you realise that in fact it’s not very big and you can just walk round the side of it!

By turning something nebulous and elusive into something tangible it makes it so much easier to deal with, and metaphor is part of what makes us human – don’t just take it from me, watch this video clip of Professor Susan Greenfield: Metaphorical thinking and identity.  Or you can read more in Lakoff and Johnson’s  Metaphors we Live By.

So if you don’t already use metaphors and imagery – why not give it a go?   I’m just scratching the surface here (here I go again!);

How many metaphors can you spot in this blog post, besides the obvious ones? They can be both fun and profound!  Tell us about how metaphors have worked for you by leaving your comments.

If you haven’t already signed up to be notified of new posts go to ‘Email Subscription’ at the top right of the page.


Photo: © James Steidl – Fotolia.com

Advertisements

Don’t think of a pink giraffe with blue spots

August 30, 2011 8 comments

What happens when I say that to you?  yup, it’s pretty much impossible to NOT think of something that’s drawn to your attention.  That is where your focus goes.  Also your unconscious mind doesn’t hear the word ‘don’t’ and only hears the rest of the instruction.

“Don’t forget to call me”, “I want to lose weight”, “Mind the kerb”.  All of these contain embedded commands to do exactly what you don’t want.  So this may explain why people don’t do as you ask (or think you asked!), why you don’t achieve your goals and why you fell off your bike  – because your thinking and language is ‘problem focused’ or ‘away from’ rather than ‘outcome focused’ or ‘towards’.  You’re not alone – this error is made by large organisations too: ‘don’t walk on the grass’, ‘don’t forget your green bags’.

Problem focused thinking can also be hugely demotivating – I once worked for a Director who was an absolute master of it – he took us all away to a conference which I think was meant to motivate us to greater things – but by the time we’d heard about what would happen if we didn’t up our game, how the team numbers would be cut, how our budgets would be reduced, how our status would drop we were all feeling thoroughly depressed and the confidence and optimism we’d arrived with just melted away with his words.

Some organisations have a whole culture of problem thinking, constantly looking for things to stop doing eg saving costs or failing to celebrate achievements before moving on to the next thing.  Learning from mistakes is fine – but do you also learn from what went right?!

This type of thinking is so contagious – I’m finding it really hard to write this post whereas I find they normally flow very easily!  I hope you’re not finding it as difficult to read – oh no! I mean “I hope you’re finding it easy and enjoyable to read”.Focus on the outcome you want

So what do you do instead?

  • As ever the first step to changing your thinking is to be aware of it – notice it yourself or ask a colleague or coach to draw your attention to it.  Do many of your sentences start with “I don’t want to…”
  • If you have a problem to solve ask yourself  “what do I want instead”? for instance, change “I don’t want to get bogged down with this” to “I want to be really focused with this”.
  • If you have a goal express it in the positive – not “I want to reduce customer complaints” but “I want 99% of our customers to be delighted with our service”
  • Focus on the outcome you want and vision it  “Whatever you create in your life you must first create in your imagination” – Tycho Photiou.

What are your experiences? – please share them in the comments below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Photo: © Tomasz Trojanowski – Fotolia.com