Metaphors – the possibilities are endless

Chairs Metaphors are a great way to engage groups or individuals in a reflective process. Whether used as an introductory icebreaker or for debriefing an activity, metaphors can take the conversation in new directions, add fun and very often create a deeper connection to the learning. Having images, words or objects on hand as prompts can make it really easy. Here's where it gets fun – prompts for metaphors are everywhere.

Here are a few ideas for your tool box

1. Look in your kitchen cabinet and pull out your spices.
You don't have to take the actual spice jars to your event, although you could.  Get pictures of them or create a set of spice index cards – one spice per card; pepper, salt, garlic, parsley, paprika, sage etc.

Sample instructions to participants;
Choose a spice represents a strength you bring to your work.
Choose a spice that represents something you would like to add to your marketing plan

Once each person chooses the conversation unfolds as they describe the meaning of their chosen spice.

2. Find pictures in magazines of common objects that show up in a broad variety of styles. It doesn't matter if it's chairs or shoes or cars or flowers, collect as many as possible with as broad a range as possible. Use them with icebreaker kinds of questions, or reflective debriefing questions. 

Sample questions
Choose the shoe that reflects something unique about you.
Pick a chair that represents your experience of the exercise.

3. There are lots of great places to look – your kids toy box might be a fun option. You can also buy ready made tools that act as metaphor prompts to elicit responses. Card deck types of products can often work well

Want to play?  Which chair best reflects your intention for today?

Share your thoughts and your favorite metaphor prompts.

Workshop Ideas

I get calls all the time from coaches and counselors asking
which creative tools would work best for a workshop they are creating. While it often
depends on the market you are targeting and the topic at hand, there are two
card decks that I refer people to alot because they are so adaptable to any

The first is a deck called One Hat At A Time Hat1 Momentum Cards. This is my all time favorite tool for perspective shifting,
ice breaking and personal exploration in a group setting. The deck is comprised
of whimsical images of hats; a miners hat, a jesters hat, a chef’s hat, you get
the idea. Here is an example of just one way to use the deck. As facilitator, choose
4 different hats – put one in each corner of the room. Ask participants to go
stand in the corner with the hat that most reflects how they see themselves
relative to whatever topic you are discussing. Encourage discussion between
participants gathered around the same hat. Next have them go to the hat that is
most uncomfortable for them – more discussion. Ask them to explore what would be
possible from this hat. You can see the coaching possibilities. There is also an excellent group facilitation guide
available and it’s downloadable.


 The second most recommended deck is called Chiji Processing Cards. This is a deck of cards with simple graphic images on them
which can help participants use metaphor. What workshop couldn’t be enlivened
by a bit of metaphor – it’s a great way to open up expression and
understanding. It’s a great tool to use for introductions. For example ask
workshop participants to choose a card that reflects their intention for the
workshop or that reflects something about them that is not readily apparent.. The
images are also useful to process a group experience or exercise – have participants
to choose an image that reflects their reaction to something or their
experience in an exercise. Images tend to get past the language centers more
easily and open up greater depth in the processing.

Art Camp – The Edge

It’s thursday morning and I don’t have a lot of time – it’s my last full day at art camp and I can’t wait to dive in – I have so many ideas to experiment with, things I want to try and pieces I want to finish- I feel invigorated and can’t wait to get started. Yesterday was the day of getting pushed out of my comfort zone. It is that very thing that is opening up new possibilities and offering juicy questions.

Our guest artist Christine Bauemler offered informal group discussions and 1:1 sessions with each artist. Her insight, expertise and eye for whats happening in the work – and whats not happening is extraordinary. She is extraordinarily adept at drilling down to the essence of whats most important to you as an artist.

I have been challenged to let the beautiful edges of my pieces show and in fact to intentionally play with them – I’m still surprised at the resistance I have to that. I had always seen them as superfulous overflow – never as part of the art and they would get covered up with the mat. Because of how I defined "art" I was absolutely blind to the possibility there . 

As a coach – I’m impressed with how this acts as a metaphor for my life and I’m seeing it in others work as well. So many great questions arise from this

Where is my edge?
What am I blind to?
What do I cover up?

there are more – and I have to run – What are the questions that you see?

The Friday Spark-Reverse Scavenger Hunt

This weeks Sparker is from Reframe the View by Christie Latona
Using the power of metaphor to reframe what’s limiting you and to discover what’s possible.

Reverse Scavenger Hunt

Remember the thrill of going on a scavenger hunt? You and your friends were given a list of random objects and you raced around trying to see who could find the most objects within a given time frame?

A reverse scavenger hunt is the process of finding a random object and then using that object to frame or reframe something that is important to you and that is weighing you down.

So, right now, go and find a random object and bring it back to your computer screen. Please don’t read further until you do. I’ll wait.

Now write down a role you are playing that feels a bit off or that could use some deeper understanding or reframing (e.g., Spouse, Parent, Leader, etc.)

Allow the role and random object to interact by asking questions like:
• How is your random object like the role you’ve written down?
• Where does the metaphor of the object take you? How do you want to reframe the role?

For example, let’s say the role you wrote down was “small business owner” and your random object was a dried floral arrangement. When you ask yourself the questions, you might think: My business is like the vase that provides a container for all my passion and ideas. I enjoy trying to arrange these things in a pleasing way, but some of the things I’m arranging are dried out. My small business owner role would be much more satisfying to me if instead of arranging old dried ideas, I was actually planting, watering and weeding projects that were alive and didn’t require my arranging to be of value.

There are no right or wrong answers, just discoveries. See what joy awaits you at the end of your reverse scavenger hunt. Are you game?

Read more creative Sparkers by Christie at www.coachingtoys.com/reframetheview.html

Sparkers – Reframe the View © 2006 Christie Latona for Coaching Toys Inc – Sparkers, all rights reserved.

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