Day 16 – Use Metaphors to Find Your Motivation

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“To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Your Outcome:   Find the metaphors that empower your for your best results in work and life.

Use inspiring metaphors to make meaning and enjoy the journey and your destination.

This is your way to get “on your path” or “back on your horse” or “get up to bat” and make the most of what you’ve got.

Welcome to day 16 of 30 Days of Getting Results.

In day 15, we learned how to achieve a peaceful calm state of mind.

Today, we learn how to use metaphors to find our motivation and drive.

Use Metaphors to Shape How You Show Up

Metaphors are a simple way to add juice to your life.  By using metaphors, you can empower yourself more effectively, and create more meaningful and compelling situations and circumstances.

When you use metaphors that connect to your values, you find ways to turn ordinary situations into extraordinary situations.  For example, I don’t drive a project, I “lead an epic adventure.”

Adventure is one of my values, so I try and connect to it wherever I can.

In your life, it’s your story and you are the director.  You choose what to point your camera at and the meaning you’ll make.  Metaphors help you shape your story.

Why Metaphors

It’s about language and the pictures we hold in our minds. Creating a vision and holding it in our heads will tend to steer us towards the emotions and feelings that we associate with such a picture.

Whether or not the picture is an accurate representation of what we are relating it to, we tend to create that picture anyway – and the emotions that go along with it. It therefore has a tendency to become reality, at least on an emotional level.

The bottom line is, metaphors shape your overall experience, filter what you perceive, and influence how you make meaning.

You are the most important meaning maker (and perhaps not always the best, especially if it’s by default and not by design). Choose your metaphors thoughtfully; here’s why:

  1. They shape your experience.
  2. They empower you to change how you think and feel (and your thinking and feeling impact your doing).
  3. They help you make meaning.

Example Metaphors

Here are some example metaphors as thought starters:

Positive Metaphors Negative Metaphors
  • Chipping away at the stone
  • Expedition
  • Eye of the tiger
  • Grab the bull by the horns
  • Mission
  • Your ship has come in
  • Your ship is sailing and you’re on it
  • Hitting a wall
  • Life sucks then you die
  • Swimming upstream
  • That ship has sailed
  • Up the stream without a paddle
  • Uphill battle
  • You are on your own

Whether a metaphor is positive or negative is up to you. For example, most people would probably think of an uphill battle as negative.

Then again, some people might like the challenge.

Ultimately, it’s your context and how you think about a particular metaphor that decides whether it’s positive or negative.

You can use metaphors for yourself and for life.

Metaphors for You

You can use metaphors for who you are or what you do, as a simple way to shape your experience, or to help others make sense of what you do.  Here are some examples:

  • I’m a survivor
  • I’m a lover
  • I’m a fighter
  • I’m a healer
  • I’m a teddy bear
  • I’m a lion
  • I’m a bull
  • I’m a peaceful warrior
  • I’m a truth seeker
  • I’m a mentor

Contrast that some of some dis-empowering or negative metaphors.  You can use metaphors to more purposefully shape the experiences you want to create.  For example … Are you an “old dog” or a “lifelong learner” or “forever young” or “young at heart” or do you “age like a fine wine” and get better with age?

The choice is yours.

Metaphors for Life

Your metaphor for life has a big impact on your day to day experience.   Your metaphor for life shapes your day-to-day experience in simple but profound ways.  Consider some examples:

  • Life’s a game
  • Life’s a dance
  • Life’s magic
  • Life’s a tragedy
  • Life’s an adventure
  • Life’s a comedy

If you see life as a tragedy, it becomes one.  If you see life as a game, you might try and find out how to win. If life is a comedy, then maybe everyday is like your favorite sitcom.  If life is a dance, maybe you find ways to see grace or beauty in yourself and others.  If life is magic, then you find the wonder in the world and you enjoy seeking out mystery and possibility.

Key Take Aways

Here are key take aways to help you use metaphors to find your motivation:

  1. Metaphors shape your experience.
  2. Metaphors can be a simple way to empower yourself.
  3. Choose the metaphors that work for you.
  4. You can find a metaphor for yourself and for life.

Today’s Assignment

  1. Find an empowering metaphor for your situation or circumstance.
  2. Find an empowering metaphor for yourself or what you do.
  3. Find an empowering metaphor for life.

Remember that the key to a successful metaphor is that it motivates you and helps you respond to any challenge that comes your way or succeed at whatever you do.  It’s not whether it makes sense, it’s how it makes you feel and the results you get.  Measure and test your metaphors against personal effectiveness as your ultimate yardstick.


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