Wednesday, July 9, 2014


I’m awash in metaphor these days.
One that I’m fond of (especially given the recent torrents of rain in my area) is being in the eye of the storm.  Per Wikipedia, it’s “a region of mostly calm weather found at the center of strong tropical cyclones”.  One can live fairly peacefully in the metaphorical eye of storm, but at the same time it’s very limiting… this is your comfort zone, that mystical place where not much happens, good or bad.  In order to get out of the storm, you’ll have to walk through the storm itself, battered by wind and rain, and… well, you catch my drift.  Getting through that storm may be rough going at first, but it will be well worth it when you emerge on the other side and feel the warm sun beating down on your face, and the typhoon winds are replaced by a cool, light breeze.

I caught another metaphor during a TV show called “Arrow”.  
One character talked about how people who go through a crucible, a severe test of strength and will.  Some make it through just fine (and, in fact, come out stronger and better for the experience).  Others fall, and let the crucible break them.  There’s another group of people, the character said, those who like the fire and prefer to remain in the challenges.  I thought about it, and realized I know people in all three classes. A cautionary note to those who choose to remain in the fire: be careful you don’t get burned.

One metaphor that really resonates with me of late is that of a locomotive beginning its journey.  I recently read a book called The Compound Effect, an above average example of of the success/ achievement genre.  There is a chapter about midway through the book all about momentum.  The author, Darren Hardy, points out that a train is very slow to begins its journey.  Even the powerful engine of a locomotive, pulling a chain of cargo cars, struggles to move forward at first… an inch at a time.  Then a foot at a time.  Eventually it will reach enough velocity that will crush almost anything in its way (I have seen the end result of a train/ automobile collision with my own eyes, so I can attest to that).
But what if that train gave up in the midst of trying to gain velocity?  
“Ugh… this is too hard,” says the train. “Forget it.  I’ll never get going.”
You and I might stand on the sidelines, urging the train on.
“Don’t give up,” we say. “Keep going.”  We remind the train that they’ll move an inch at a time at first, then a foot at a time, and will go faster and faster, until it becomes that powerful force that can tear through virtually anything in its path.
Recently, someone I know flat out gave up at what I felt was the cusp of a very big breakthrough for them professionally.  I hope, as time moves forward, he’ll not regret it too much… and I hope, at the next such opportunity, he’ll stick with it and not give up.
I know it’s difficult to get that momentum going.  It’s a daunting task to keep pulling with all your might, especially when you can only move an inch at a time at first.  Keep the faith, though, and keep going.  Remember that inch you just moved?  That alone is worth something, even if it doesn’t seem like much at the time.  Before long you will have moved a foot and before you know it, you’ll be an unstoppable force… but none of that will happen if you give up right out of the gate.
Believe me, I know.  I’ve given up plenty of times, but I have no plans to do so again. So yes, I actually propose that you and I become “the little engine that could”.

Are there any other metaphors that resonate with you?  How do they inform your life?  Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook.