Many times when I listen to executives I certainly get the impression that there is a war raging. They speak about “beating the competition,” “taking over new markets,” or “defending market position.” What concerns me is that they say it without even thinking about it. In their minds it is not an analogy but the reality. Naturally, that makes business into a dangerous war zone.
Analogies and metaphors can be very useful to make the complex simple and relate the known to the unknown. They are by definition not inherently true, however, they by their very nature impose a powerful set of lenses – and limitations – on how we view the world, think and interact.
The war analogy may seem useful to mobilise (ups, another military term) resources and attention in the face of a great threat. However, conducting everyday business on a commercial battlefield can be an exhausting, disheartening and counterproductive experience. Who wants to be fighting for survival every day? Even medical research shows that living in the survival mode whilst providing short-term energy boost negatively impacts our long-term health and intelligence and thus paradoxically, our chances thrive into the future. And it also makes work and business life much less enjoyable and fulfilling.
The good news is that we can change our view and experience by simply changing the analogy we use.
What metaphors and analogies could we use that would empower us to connect with our greatest inspiration, tap our innate potential and foster fruitful collaboration for everyone’s benefit?
The options are limitless though I found that the best inspiration comes from nature. How would business shift if you viewed it like a beautiful garden or a delicate ecosystem where everything has its place and importance? What if you looked at your business like a living organism with its own well-being, relationships and legacy?
In this highly interrelated world we are in urgent need for new business metaphors.
So think about it. What could be the most empowering metaphor for your team, your business and your market?
You will notice that when you change the underlying metaphor, you and your team will inevitably shift how you think and interact, and your business will transform.
Metaphors are powerful and we use them all the time, so choose them wisely – they will not only influence what will be possible for you to accomplish but also determine how enjoyable, rewarding and meaningful will the journey be for you and everyone involved in your business.