By: Stella Orange
I’m reading this book that is likely too nerdy for you.
So let me give you the executive brief:
Human brains run on metaphors, and most of us don’t even know it. Take, for example, the metaphor: Business is DOMINATION.
Crush the competition.
Get to the top of your industry.
Take your business to the next level.
Build your empire.
We see this language all the time.
It’s colonial. It’s hierarchical. It assumes a certain power dynamic.
Power over. Not power with.
But what if domination is only one way to approach the practice of business?
Here are some other metaphors you could chose to increase your profitability or client base from:
Business as ART
Business as SERVICE
Business as COLLABORATION
Business as EXPRESSION OF PURPOSE
Business as PARTNERSHIP
What if you built your tribal language around one of these metaphors instead?
What if you made sure that the way you packaged and priced your work, the rooms you show up in, how you treat your prospects in sales conversations, and every other decision you’ll make in business next year – from the greatest to the teeny tiniest – all lined up with the paradigm you consciously and deliberately chose about your most private, holy dream about how you wished the world would be?
What would become possible then?
I had the good fortune yesterday to have this conversation with the members of our Council.
One woman, a coach and consultant, was frustrated because her business wasn’t coming together in the way she had expected. Sure, she had two new management coaching clients starting in the New Year. Sure, a third was likely coming in as well, hot on her heels. And yeah, all three of these clients were referrals from past clients.
But what about her team trainings? Why wasn’t she getting that work?
As someone who sees the story in everyone, all I could think was that she was marinating in the wrong set of metaphors:
Business as LINEAR.
Business as HUSTLE.
Business as NEVER SATISFIED.
But from where I sit, if the metaphors you’re using don’t delight you, swap ‘em out for more powerful ones that serve you—and your corner of the world—better.I suggested some alternatives:
Business as RIGHT WHERE YOU NEED TO BE.
Business as NOTHING IS WRONG HERE.
Business as HEY LET’S CELEBRATE YOUR NEW CLIENTS!
She, being a smart, stubborn woman not unlike myself, resisted:
Yeah, but isn’t my elevator pitch wrong?
Yeah, but maybe I’m not doing enough?
Yeah, but maybe there’s a problem here that needs solving?
This is the benefit of being in cahoots with people who walk with you as you build your business, in your own way.
We know how to help you solve problems that you can’t see your way around solo.
We know how to tune in to what your unique metaphor is, that’s original to you and your business.
But we also know how to pause and say, hey, look, you’re flying! You’re flying!
And keep you on track so you don’t go making work for yourself that actually doesn’t need to be done.
P.S. Read a great quote today:
“What if my role is that of the sidekick, getting obstacles out of their way and letting the superhero learn to fly.” – Mickey McManus
Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.
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