Thursday, 11 August 2011

Bad apples just get more rotten – it’s time to change the metaphor

I have been inundated with examples of the different ways we can view good and bad over the last week and thought I’d share the thoughts that have arisen for me:

One key conversation was with a friend about being a ‘good person’ vs a ‘bad person.’

I agree certain behaviours are bad (although I’m pretty sure we’ll all have different scales for what goes where) but that doesn’t make the people doing them bad. If we continue to label others as bad then it’s not long before we continue with that metaphor and believe them to be rotten, like an apple, and therefore useless. The only option then is for them to be discarded. As a metaphor it’s not got a lot going for it, it certainly doesn’t provide a lot of options other than perhaps to bury the apple and hope the seeds have some life left in them!

I wondered what might be a more helpful and resourceful metaphor – what about:

Tomatoes – because they need the right soil, nutrients, feeding, watering, heat and light. This is they need TLC and the right conditions to enable them to flourish. Although perhaps unhelpful when thrown at others rather than eaten as part of a healthy diet.

Flowers – what I like about this metaphor is flowers can flourish in many environments despite the lack of the ‘right’ conditions. But constant lack of any of the right conditions will certainly not allow for a flourishing, vigorous and beautiful flower.

With both these examples at least it’s easier to understand what is needed to ensure the plant flourishes and contributes to the garden. It’s also useful to consider the impact of the greenhouse, the gardener and tools used because ultimately these too will determine the extent to which the plants flourish.

What metaphors do you use to describe others and in what way might these be unhelpful to finding a solution to the issue.


Alison Smith
Helping Teams see the Wood for the Trees

For more on the Landscaping your Life metaphor I use with individuals and teams do visit my facebook and youtube pages. You may also like a recent blog on Growing your own stakeholders on Supply Management.

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