Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What’s Your Metaphor?

Was there someone or something in your life that gave you inspiration, motivation or that extra push you needed when times were rough?   

Earlier in my career, while a student working toward my undergraduate and graduate studies, it was difficult for me to see the silver lining.  I often wondered if my hard work and studies would pay off in the end or would the massive accumulation of debt from my investment into my education overwhelm me.  As a student, there was little diversity throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies.  Leadership roles in the workforce had the same resemblance.  I needed something more to inspire and motivate me.  I needed a metaphor.  My metaphor gave me peace and balance.  It gave me inspiration.

In the Olympics there is a sport in track and field in which runners sprint and jump over hurdles.  The standard sprint for men is 110 meters and for women 100 meters.  The standard long hurdle is 400 meters for both men and women.  The sport can be referred to as hurdling. 

Metaphorically speaking, when I look back over my life, I see some resemblance of this sport.  I keep sprinting forward and jump over hurdles in my path to reach the finish line.  There are several twists and turns in the track and it is not always smooth.  I’m sprinting and hurdling solo, so it’s not about winning but simply a race in time.  A finish line does not exist, so I keep reminding myself that it’s not about the race, but really about the journey. 

Through my personal journey, I’ve had peaks and valleys, highs and lows, and triumphs and despair.  I’ve had some disappointments, but my successes seem much brighter and vivid.  With each hurdle I gained strength and endurance.  I gain knowledge and wisdom.  With each hurdle, I continue to grow and evolve.   

There was a three-time Grammy Award winning group called the Sounds of Blackness.  This group had a rhythm & blues and gospel sound.  One of my favorite songs from this group was a song called Black Butterfly.  Whenever I needed inspiration, I would pop the cassette in my car and play this song.  Yes, cassettes were popular at that time.  Anyway, it was my spiritual and mental ritual.  It was my means of reaching a higher state of consciousness, and helped me sort through times when things were not going well.  It was my metaphor and it worked for me.  Even though cassettes are all but obsolete, it is the only one that I retained over the years, simply as a reminder of what inspired me. 


Human beings experience highs and lows.  It is a natural part of life.  There is no way around it and no one is exempt from it.  When things are going great and you’re sprinting forward, all is well, and life is at it’s best. 

When things are not going as planned, and obstacles or hurdles are in front of your path, what keeps you focused on your journey?  Do you have a metaphor, or is there something else that keeps you inspired and helps you overcome the hurdles?  We all need inspiration from time to time.  We fall and we rise again.

I’d love to hear your story.

~ Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR

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