One of the ways to inspire people is to use imagery. Imagery also makes ideas and concepts easier to understand.
We create imagery using analogies, metaphors, and similes. Frankly, I look up the definition of these terms every time I write about them, and I still can’t keep them straight. Let’s just say that we inspire others when we use imagery to show them how one thing is like another.
Here is some imagery that I use to show the importance of a leader having a clear vision and getting everyone to move toward that vision.
This is a dog sled with the dogs arranged in a gangline team configuration. It’s the one with which we are most familiar. However, if the terrain is rough and the dogs need to be able to avoid obstacles and rough ice, the musher will arrange the dogs in a fan hitch, pictured below.
The fan hitch allows the dogs more freedom and flexibility, which is the same thing that great leaders give their employees. It’s an ideal arrangement as long as the musher or leader can keep everyone pulling in the same direction. You can imagine the loss of direction for the entire team if one dog pulls off in a 90-degree angle from the rest of the pack. One troublesome employee can have the same effect.
That imagery helps to show the importance of a leader having a direction, clearly communicating that vision, and ensuring that everyone is working toward that goal. We can clearly see how one employee can derail momentum, efficiency, and success.
When trying to make a point or explain an idea, we can think of what imagery might illustrate the concept. We can start by asking how this situation is similar to another one.
The title of this blog compares imagery to a lighthouse. Why do you think that I picked a lighthouse? A lighthouse shines a bright light out into the darkness. The light both guides boats towards home and warns them off of a rocky coast. If a crew is lost and unsure of where to go, the beam from a lighthouse is a welcome sight.
Actually, I often think of myself and my work as a lighthouse. I want to hold up a shining example for leaders to strive for, and also warn them off of behaviors that are unproductive or harmful. I want to create hope and direction in a world that is often murky and confusing. The imagery of my work as a lighthouse helps me stay motivated and on-track.
What imagery would help you and your organization stay motivated and moving in a positive direction? I’d love to hear your ideas!
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