Going forwards, either used to mean ‘what we’ll do next’, ‘in the future’, or sometimes just as a hollow place holder meaning absolutely nothing at all, is another orientational metaphor which makes embodied sense. It belongs to the family of journey metaphors which we referred to in previous posts: we choose our ‘direction of travel’, we know where we’re going, we are determined. We’re on our way to a better future, an onwards and upwards ‘trajectory’. Nearly 15 years ago Tony Blair’s election campaign chose the tautologous slogan ‘forward, not back’ just to reinforce the point that to vote for Labour meant being in a car with no reverse gear. There is only the future: there are no regrets.
There is a particular cognitive approach to executive coaching, still in use in many organisations, which exemplifies this kind of singular future-oriented thinking. For example the GROW model is explained as follows:
- Current Reality.
- Options (or Obstacles).
- Will (or Way Forward).
Organisational problems are understood as the individual’s struggle to overcome particular difficulties with determination and rational analysis. And perhaps if you intend undertaking some difficult change process it is good to imply that you will push on and not falter at the first sign of mutiny, and that you know what you’re doing.
However, maybe there is more to uncover about complex experience than talking as if there is only one tense which is important, the future, and only the individual’s rationality and will to map it out. Continue reading