This web site began when I found Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman’s book, Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal about the Minds of Consumers. I’m a personal coach, and coaches work with client metaphors all the time. They are often power tools we can enlist for change. The Zaltmans’ book added fuel to an already burning curiosity and passion for the use of metaphors within and about coaching for me. As I shared that fascination with my colleague and friend, Julia Chung, we realized that this could be a wonderful playground and perhaps serve as a resource for coaches and those looking for self-coaching tools. Thus, this blog was born.
Metaphors are everywhere. We use them without realizing it whenever we are communicating. Simply put, a metaphor is a literary device we use to describe one thing in terms of some other thing. You could write a metaphor as a mathematical equation that would look like this:
X = Y
A metaphor juxtaposes two different things and then skews our point of view so unexpected similarities emerge. Metaphorical thinking half discovers and half invents the likenesses it describes. ~ James Geary, I is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World, p. 9.
But a metaphor isn’t confined to literature or even language. It can be visual as well. As we live our lives and ascribe meaning to our experience, we think metaphorically without even realizing it. These metaphoric connections can work powerfully for us or against us. Our metaphors can have a profound influence on us without our ever being consciously aware of them. That’s where coaches can help and why we say that coaches can use metaphors as power tools for change.
The paradox of metaphor is that it tells us so much about a person, place, or thing by telling us what that person, place, or thing is not. Understanding a metaphor (like reading a book about that process, in fact) is a seemingly random walk through a deep, dark forest of associations. The path is full of unexpected twists and turns, veering wildly off into the underbrush one minute and abruptly disappearing down a rabbit hole the next. Signposts spin like weather vanes. You can’t see the wood for the trees. Then, suddenly, somehow, you step into the clearing. A metaphor is both detour and destination, a digression that gets to the point. ~ James Geary, I is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World, pp. 12-13.
Our intention with this blog is to provide a space for an ongoing conversation, share and collect powerful metaphors coaches use with clients so that they can be a resource for others, and explore how metaphors can help coaches explain what coaching is and powerfully convey the value a person can realize from coaching. We also hope that someone looking for help to address a particular personal or professional challenge might find insight and benefit from exploring the metaphors gathered and discussed here and perhaps connect with the coach who has shared their experience and insight.