Who would have thought that metaphors would have played such an integral place in my coaching?
I enjoy a good metaphor, but didn’t always see their power. In the last year, I’ve been asking my clients to describe how they are feeling about a particular situation as a metaphor – an analogous visual to describe their feelings. Here are some examples of what I heard.
I feel like I am suck in an elevator with a bunch of people. The elevator is stuck between floors and the alarm is going off.
This individual is trying to make a decision on where his career is headed. However, when he thinks about it, he experiences this elevator scene.
Can you imagine making a career decision in that moment?
You are surrounded by a bunch of people, stuck between floors which makes it difficult for rescue, and the alarm is going off so you can’t even hear yourself think! There isn’t a way to make an intentional decision when you are feeling like this. With this client, we had to work on viewing the decision from a different perspective – a perspective that didn’t feel trapped, loud, and cramped.
Another client did not feel connected to her career. Many of my clients present with this concern. There is a lot of variety in how disconnected we feel. When I asked her to describe her specific feeling of disconnection she said…
It feels like my career is a vacuum and the vacuum is attached to my soul and is on at full sucking power.
What a powerful visual. A small tweak in her role or a move to a new department isn’t going to work. A small move will not likely fulfill her. Something more powerful is going to need to happen to disconnect the vacuum from her soul.
Another client had been in a job search for 3 months without traction. Here’s how he described it…
It’s like driving my car on empty with the orange fuel light on and no gas station in sight.
Before talking more about the actions he should be taking with his job search, we needed to uncover how he could fill up his gas tank. Before he could take more actions, he needed to refuel. There was nothing left to spend on job search until the refueling happened.
I encourage you to try this career counseling technique. If you are feeling stuck, or unfulfilled, or frustrated, I would encourage you to think of a metaphor that would give some visual definition to those feelings. The metaphor can help clarify the feeling. With that clarity, you can open your mind to new ideas and perspectives that can help you move forward.
Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
Stay In Touch