Dear Reader,

The magic of metaphors – how do they influence our lives? Coaching a client the other week I reflected back to her that her thoughts were like a runaway train. She liked this metaphor and found it incredibly useful, which got me thinking about how we use metaphors in our lives.

More morsels of information at the end of this Inspire about ….

  • Your Brain At Work – 9th May Didcot Late Breakfast network meeting, come and hear me talk.
  • Free coaching audits …. Not sure if coaching will help you? Then try one of my free coaching audits.
  • Managing Challenging Interactions Workshop … Put Thursday 18th October in your diary for a free taster workshop near Chalgrove.
  • Twice daily encouragement … follow me on Twitter: MelanieInspires.

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Best wishes




Melanie Greene

The magic of metaphors - how do they influence our lives?

What do we mean by a metaphor? When we say ‘that conversation/project/day was like walking through treacle', we understand that it was not an easy conversation, project or day. We think of metaphors as just expressions, but they are more powerful than that.

Going back to my trusted dictionary it describes a metaphor as:

‘A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is applied to another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.'

Now you might be thinking, ‘what has this got to do with my life and my work, how can metaphors help me?'. Let's take the runaway train metaphor that I introduced to my coaching client to describe her escalating thought processes. When I mentioned the runaway train she could immediately relate to it. Afterwards, she mentioned that it was so graphic that it kept on reminding her to rein in her thinking when it started to escalate downwards. She even took the metaphor further and said she was aiming for her train of thought to be idling in the sidings in a restful kind of way.

A week later when I found my thoughts racing ahead in a negative way about something, I borrowed the runaway train metaphor! For me, I could see in my mind's eye a junction with a switch. One track led into a dark, foreboding tunnel which I didn't want to go down, the other led through a valley of lush green hills, with the sun shining and that was definitely where I wanted to be headed. Every time the train started heading towards the tunnel I was able to smile and flick the switch to head it towards a much more pleasant place. This also reminded me of a game that my mum and dad used to play with my brother and I before bedtime (not a good way to settle children down to sleep but we all had great fun doing it!). We had piggyback rides to the runaway train song, as they charged around the house, with us laughing ourselves silly on their backs. Having made that childhood association it made me smile, lifted my mood and directed my thoughts in a positive direction.

‘If your train is on the wrong track, every station you come to is the wrong station.'

Bernard Malamud

Is a metaphor different from a belief? I think that our beliefs are often betrayed or displayed by the metaphors we use. The metaphors bring into sharp focus what we believe about ourselves, other people, our work or our lives. For example, if someone used the following metaphor to describe their life: ‘My life is like a quiet stream which gently ambles through the countryside, I enjoy the journey as well as looking forward to the destination', you get a sense of calmness, someone enjoying the moment. While if someone said ‘My life is like the rapids, I am having to hang on for dear life, I never know what is around the corner, and most of the time I am scared stiff!', you get a very different impression of their life and how they feel living it.

What metaphors do you have in your life?

‘Search for the seed of good in every adversity. Master that principle and you will own a precious shield that will guard you well through all the darkest valleys you must traverse. Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the mountaintop. So will you learn things in adversity that you would never have discovered without trouble. There is always a seed of good. Find it and prosper.'

Og Mandino

Metaphors which can help move us forward As with the runaway train metaphor some metaphors will aid us in dealing with life's challenges and move our life forward. I might have mentioned before that I have a metaphor for when I feel that life is going well, when I feel on top of everything, even if I am very busy and life is a bit challenging. I feel like I am on a surfboard, catching the wave of life, moving forward, staying balanced on my surfboard, and it feels great. I also have another metaphor which, in time, I realised was when that busyness starts to go into overdrive, and I am driven on adrenaline, I start to feel like I am flying, it feels great at first, but I have learned that this soon leads to me crash landing! So now if the flying feeling kicks in I take a deep breath, engage my inner wisdom, get centred (versus being adrenaline-fuelled) and get back on my surfboard. I have found these two metaphors for how I live my life so useful in providing a visual metaphor to how I am feeling that that then enables me to change my behaviour and create a successful outcome. Click here for more on tapping into your inner wisdom.

‘You can't hoot with the owls at night and fly with the eagles during the day.'


Metaphors that can keep us stuck I am reminded that in my last employed consultancy job over 21 years ago, the three partners had bought the building where we worked from and there was constant talk of the need to ‘feed the monster', which was the mortgage. This monster did seem to hang over them, casting a shadow over financial matters, and perhaps kept them stuck in the problem, rather than thinking creatively both in terms of how to pay the mortgage and how to develop the business further.

If life starts to feel like a treadmill, hamster wheel, then this an indicator that you are feeling stuck and you need to take some action. This might be about changing the situation you are in, or changing how you are thinking and feeling about it. You might want to consider using a coach or counsellor to assist you with this. Click for information about the free coaching audits I offer to see if coaching could help you in your situation.

What metaphors do you have? One way to identify the metaphors that you have in your head, and to see if they are positive and helpful or negative and hindering you in your life, is to answer the following – do it spontaneously, and maybe answer a few times to see if you have different metaphors….

Life is like…

Money is…

Work is …

Managers are …

Old age is …

Love is …

Men are …

Women are …

Marriage is …

Food is …

Believing that money is the root of all evil or money is easy come easy go will have a profound effect on your relationship with money. If you believe that work is like a lion's den, and every day is a battle for survival, then you are likely to find it difficult to sleep, dread Monday mornings, and be under quite a bit of pressure and stress.

I remember in one client organisation, one senior manager was always referring to war metaphors, talking about getting the tanks out and shooting others' ideas down. He saw his relationships with other departments and managers as a constant battle for resources, for who was in right, who was wrong? Of course, this was never going to lead to co-operative working or harmonious meetings and teamwork!

‘Blessed are those who can tell a mountain from a molehill, they will be saved a lot of bother.'

Joseph Folliet

Are the metaphors you have in your life helping or hindering you? Do you want assistance in moving forward with your life? Ring me on 01865 377334 or email to discuss in confidence how I can assist you.

Your Brain At Work - Do you want to improve your performance, decrease your stress levels and get more enjoyment from your work?

On Wednesday 9th May, in Didcot, I'll be doing an interactive presentation based on David Rock's book: Your Brain At Work. This is a fascinating book and I'll be sharing some simple techniques you can use to counter your brain's natural responses to stress, conflicts at work, dealing with deadlines, etc.

This event is hosted by the Late Breakfast, for details and to book a place visit or simply turn up on the day. Networking starts at 9am, presentation at 9.30am and finish by 10.30am. Cost is £10, payable in cash on the door.


Free coaching audits

Each month I have three slots for a complimentary coaching audit to help you to identify whether coaching will assist you in what you want to achieve and what coaching programme will be right for you. This free audit involves the following:

  • You complete a pre-coaching questionnaire and return it to me.
  • We have a 45 minute telephone conversation to discuss your needs and how you might use the coaching to enhance how you work and run your business.
  • I send you a proposal of which coaching programmes might be suitable, or if other interventions such as training or a team working event might be more appropriate.
  • You then make a decision as to whether you wish to proceed.

If you want to sign up for the free coaching audit in April and May then email See below for more information about the different types of coaching I offer.


Managing Challenging Interactions Taster Workshop 

Put Thursday 18th October in your diary for a free taster workshop near Chalgrove. More details to follow later.


Do you want to be more authentic at work and in your life?

There are a range of coaching and training programmes to assist you in developing your skills and confidence….

  • A six month Coaching For Excellence Programme to provide intensive coaching support to assist you in bringing about change in your mindset, your mood and state, and the impact these have on you achieving your goals.
  • One off Catalytic Coaching Programmes, to unblock whatever it is that is stopping you from changing your behaviour.
  • Ad hoc Coaching Sessions – Ad hoc coaching sessions can be on any topic. Sometimes they are designed to assist you in getting the most from my book. At other times people have a specific issue they are facing or have attended a course and need more support in terms of how they apply the ideas to their lives.
  • Master Your Inner Critic Online Programme – This includes a series of four e-booklets and four video clips based on my book to support you in putting the techniques and ideas into practice.
  • Effective Team Building Programmes – We have many years of experience running programmes for both senior management and operational teams.
  • Tailored Development Programmes – From one day events to on-going programmes, we can design them to meet your needs.

To find out more about these programmes email me on or call me on 01865 377334.


Do you want a taster of our services?

Then take a look at our freebies on the website for:

Recordings of my free webinars on:

  • Mastering your inner critic.
  • Changing Habits of A Lifetime
  • Improve Your Performance: Learn From Your Mistakes And Successes

Click here to listen to these recordings.

Free articles on the following topics:

  • Selling from the Inside Out
  • Managing Mood and Motivation During Challenging Times
  • Supporting others through Challenging Times
  • Master your inner critic
  • Buying in consultancy

Click here to read the articles.

For further book recommendations: click here


For more information about Inspire Transformation visit our website: or call Melanie on 01865 377334 or email follow Melanie on Twitter: MelanieInspires.


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Melanie Greene
01865 377334