Metaphors are both stages and cages for our thinking.

Benjamin P. Taylor
2 min readApr 12, 2021


“Our business is a smoothly oiled machine.”

“Life is a box of chocolates.”

“We call the boss Darth Vader”

“Kai has the heart of a lion.”

We think by comparing one thing to another (analogy) or mapping one thing onto another (metaphor).

They’re stages — platforms that boost our ideas — because they create:

- deep understanding and illumination — suddenly you can see a whole pattern!

- emotional engagement and power

Metaphor powers our language.

And they’re cages — once you ‘lock in’ to a metaphor, it limits and directs your thinking. If your business is a smoothly oiled machine, and something goes wrong, you will look for different solutions than you would for a happy and productive farm…

We never escape this pattern (how many metaphors have I used in my writing in this short update?) — but we can notice it and we can think about the limits and extensions which our metaphors offer us.

Having at least two different metaphors about the same situation is a power move.

If you’d like to have a play around with these ideas, the SCiO metaphor special starts tonight at 7pm UK time on zoom: It’s members only — but annual membership which gets you a lot of events and the entire published back catalogue is only £30 :-)

What’s your favourite metaphor?

What does it emphasise and what does it take you away from?