I’ve been cleaning out my shed.

It’s at the very back of our property and holds books, treasures, and lots of junk. You know how it goes…ten years in the same place. For me small, and not so small, things accumulate and I do the ole “I’ll get around to it…one day” routine.

Here it was – a beautiful day for working outside and I was procrastinating.

I was online looking for something I could listen to while I worked, something motivational – I am cleaning a shed after all. I got side tracked on Youtube by “greatest speeches ever given” and somehow came across a short talk by a woman named Mel Robbins.

Mel has coined a pattern-interrupt strategy she calls The 5 Second Rule. In brief, when you have an inspiration, a thought, or something you want to get done, you 5-4-3-2-1 yourself to action. It is not so dissimilar to snapping a rubber band on your wrist or taking a deep breath and exhaling hard. The important thing is that, once the pattern redirect is done, you MOVE. You get up, you sit down, you do something with your body that begins a trajectory towards what you want to have happen.

What caught my attention wasn’t the strategy of habit redirect, but that Mel came by this idea through metaphor.

In Clean Language we love metaphor. Metaphor is a primary part of a client’s language we attend to. Metaphor in its leanest explanation is simply describing one thing in terms of another.

The thing is, the more personal something is, the more complex, the more apt we are to use metaphor to describe it. And this is what Mel did.

Her marriage was having a melt down. She and her husband had lost thousands in a business venture gone bad. She was depressed, unhappy, and not doing what she knew she should. She wanted to get up when the alarm went off, go walking, look for work, and eat better – the small things she knew would help her feel better and make life function more smoothly.

One evening after a trying day she was watching TV and saw a NASA rocket launch. It was then it struck her. Everyday, pushing the snooze button she was like a rocket that was grounded and what she needed to do was to “launch her self out of bed” just like that rocket she saw on TV. For her, it was the 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 LIFT OFF. She internalized the metaphor of a rocket launch and it changed her life.

Metaphors are powerful, idiosyncratic ways we make sense of the world.

Life can be a “bowl of cherries” or a “sh*t show”  You can imagine how different the experiences of these two people might be.

OK, back to the shed.

I didn’t 5-4-3-2-1 my work, a rocket launch isn’t a metaphor that fits my temperament. I like to wind along like a slow and steady river. So that’s what I did that lovely afternoon. Walking back and forth the length of my ‘back 40’ until I had filled the the pick-up truck with things to take to the local second hand shop.

We use metaphors all the time to describe how things are, what we want from life, and even how we want our dreams to be. Sometimes they are apparent like Mel’s rocket launch, and sometimes they are more subtle, embedded so deeply in our speech we do not even hear them.

Clean Questions are designed to help elicit the metaphors we use in everyday life. What this does is give you more agency and decision making skill in your life. Not everyone has an epiphany moment like Mel. Sometimes we have it and it fades due to time or distraction.

Unless we know what we would like to have happen changing gears, redirecting habits, and making changes might be effort waisted.

Clean Language comes into play because is it is designed to help you define your Desired Outcome. Not just any desired outcome, but yours.

Desired outcomes (DO) are not the same as goals, they are dynamic reference points. As you work toward a desired outcome you adjust your trajectory as you learn more, change a bit, and try on where you are headed.

Desired outcomes begin with the question: What would you like to have happen?

Is there something you would like to have happen and can’t quite seem to make that link between wanting and doing?

Something at work? A promotion, a job change, an artistic endeavor, a love aspiration, a life tangle you can’t seem to over come?

Join me January 13-15, 2019 at Clean Convergence 2019 for the Self-Modeling Retreat

We are joined with the co-developers of Symbolic Modeling, Penny Tompkins & James Lawley, for three days facilitation toward creative solutions designed by you, for you.

Start where you are and let us help you facilitate the conditions of change that need to happen for you to get where you would like to be.


PS. Here is something you CAN try at home

This morning or sometime in the next few days, sit down for a minute and think of something you would like to have happen in your life or work.

And think about how you need to be to move towards that desired outcome. Do you need to be like a rocket launch, like a smooth and windy river, a mountain, the rock of Gibraltar? It can be anything that fits your fancy. It is only for you. And you don’t have to share it with friends – although they might find it less weird than you think.

And from there you can begin to design movements and strategies that can help you bring your desired outcome from the future to real time.