Posted by: mikeduckett | March 24, 2010

The Cloak & The Worm Hole

When listening closely to clients I often hear (and watch) them struggle to express something they obviously understand in great depth; it’s just that the ‘depth’ is ‘deep’! The concept they are trying to express will often be complex and abstract. Take for instance the idea of trying to describe what it’s like to be creative. The great Chef, Heston Blumenthal, has a wonderful metaphor for this – when he’s being creative he’s “like a kid in a sweet shop”. (See The metaphor is his way of expressing the complex mental state he achieves regularly but finds very difficult to put into everyday language.

I see this use of metaphor as a way of accessing raw thoughts or deep holistic notions (see how many you can spot in that sentence!) Today’s client was working to prepare for an exam to qualify as a dance instructor and she was attempting to visualise herself performing the dance sequence beautifully when she realised she could only see the beginning then the image faded to black and stopped. She just felt “something is holding me back” and was visibly struggling to express what that something was when she just happened to say in exasperation “it’s like a black, heavy cloak”.

Like ‘ a rat up a drain pipe’ or ‘a rabbit down the hole’ I was away and following her!

In this metaphor we discovered the cloak plus a worm hole and tendrils behind her holding her back. We also then discovered she just had to turn to the right and step forward so that the tendrils released and the cloak disappeared down the worm hole, allowing her to move into the light.

She could now easily visualise the whole dance sequence of the exam including being able to rewind bits she wanted to change until it was perfect.

What a great metaphor! So useful just at that point in our work. For more great examples see

Got one of your own that been useful?


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Duckett. Mike Duckett said: The Cloak & The Worm Hole: […]

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