I recently attended the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) Ignite Your Spark 2013 Networking Conference in New York City.
Metaphors are phrases, images, or sayings that compare two things such as stories, anecdotes, and symbols. They carry meaning across from one thing to another. Metaphors become symbols of people, objects, or events.
Common metaphors include, “it’s on the tip of my tongue” and, “it’s raining cats and dogs.” Although it is not always obvious, the comparison shapes our thinking.
Let’s look at metaphors used by Star Jones, talk show host and former prosecutor, Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, Monique L. Nelson, who specializes in leading multimillion-dollar, globally integrated marketing programs, Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing Company, and Martha Stewart, Emmy Award-winning television host.
Star talked about being on “the right path.” She focused on the significance of paying attention to what self-sabotages your success and impedes your progress.
Star recognizes that what captures your attention is the direction you will go in.
Ask yourself if you are on the right path and if you are goal oriented. Make sure you have a “roadmap.” Based on “the right path” metaphor, Jones articulates, “Pay attention to what moves you closer to your goals.”As you keep your “balls in the air” remember that “some ball is always in the air.”
It’s no secret that Arianna Huffington has turned “stumbling blocks into stepping-stones” and her use of metaphor revealed why she was named to the TIME 100, TIME magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Monique L. Nelson built on Huffington’s metaphor and mentioned the word, “runway.” From stepping-stones to the smooth surface of a runway, metaphors give professional women a picture on how to move forward and prosper.
Desiree Rogers used two metaphors which were, a “cookie cutter approach” and “take the bull by the horns.” What these two metaphors show professional women is that they do not have to plan their business according to what has already been done.
As brave women metaphorically take the bull by the horns, they directly take action and continue to do this until the day they retire. However, Martha Stewart shared her love of working and not retiring, or as she noted, “going off into the sunset.”
Personally, while I was in the hospital awaiting the birth of my triplets, my father died by suicide.
Soon after the birth of my three sons, I was sitting at my kitchen table painting a watercolor picture of flowers. When I was almost finished with the painting, a glass of water spilled on the canvas. This caused the colors to mix into one another.
The flowers I created became a blend of various shades and hues. Since that defining moment, I’ve thought of how my grief reactions are similar to a blending of several colors, a Palette of Grief®. This has become my metaphor for reactions to life’s challenges and one I share in all of my presentations and training.
The key point is that as you think about your own metaphors, focus on what made you choose them and why they are meaningful to you.