If Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, What am I?

Which one are you?

Which one are you?

One for me, one for you, more for me, none for you...
One for me, one for you, more for me, none for you…

If you have seen Forrest Gump, you are likely to remember the line in the movie where he states that life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you get.  It’s a memorable statement.  On one hand, it sounds like you need to get started before you know what you have.  On another, it sounds like maybe you should try as many as you can.  At least to a chocoholic like me…   What made this line in the movie so powerful?  The analogy.  Almost everyone could relate to it and could understand the point that Forrest was getting to very quickly. 

I’ve found analogies to be quite useful – at least when your analogy makes sense and your audience “gets it.”   An analogy, as defined by Wikipedia, is a “… cognitive process of transferring information from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. … They can play a significant role in problem solving, decision making, perception, memory, creativity, emotion, explanation and communication.”  Whoa, too many big words.  Let’s try that again, in my language.  To me, analogies convey a wealth of information in a short amount of time by allowing you to relate one thing to another.  You apply the properties of one item to another to draw an inference or conclusion.  On a more serious note, for the information junkie and lifelong learners out there, I did find reading and thinking about the Wikipedia definition useful.  I had not processed how many different ways that we use analogies.  I actually use a variation of an analogy for my pictures and underlying text within these ponderings.

The analogy that I have found myself using a great deal lately is people are like rubber bands. 

What, a rubber band you say?  I’m not a little piece of rubber…  No, you are not.  But bear with me and think for a moment about a rubber band.  What comes to mind?  Material?  Uses for the rubber band?  The fact that they wear out?  That they can become brittle?  That they can snap?  That rubber bands come in different sizes?  In different thicknesses?  That some are easier to stretch than others?  Have you thought about how hot and cold can affect their properties?  That children (and some adults who behave like children) like to shoot them at each other? 

What all rubber bands have in common is their ability to expand and contract.  For a rubber band, a few might call it “resilience,” but most simply talk about how stretchy it is. 

People come in different shapes, sizes, colors and strengths.  At times we have more “capacity” to deal with change, we are more resilient.  Other times we have been pulled in six different directions at once and simply have no capacity left.  In “Change Management lanuage,” we often talk of resilience, of resistance to change, or change fatigue.  We often focus on all the outside factors and influences without thinking too much about the inside.  I like to think about both, the inside and the outside view.  Sometimes, the best way that we may be able to help people is to simply help them strengthen their own internal rubber band. 

The question I have for you today is how might the analogy of a rubber band help you not only better understand an individual’s current state, but think differently about how you might help drive effective and more sustainable change?  Changing the factors outside the rubber band are frequently temporary.  Strengthening the rubber band itself can more permanent.

Here’s to hoping that you “get” my rubber band analogy and find a way to build some strength and resiliance within yourself and others.  Find more “stretchiness”  – or find a way to get back some that you use to have.  Cheers!

P.S.  Now go shoot a rubber band and see how it makes you feel.


  1. Luc Galoppin says:

    Hi Faith,

    Like you – I am an analogy lover and I found two additional sources of clarity by googling for ‘METAPHOR’:

    1. The Wiki definition:

    2. Leonard Bernstein who talks about the mataphor of music:
    A mataphor carries meaning beyond the comprehension that you had so far. Remember: it is metaphor which most produces knowledge (Aristotle, quoted by Bernstein).

    As for the rubber bands, I think resilience is a different colour of rubberband than resistance. The point is that resilience bands will hit different targets (positive ones) once they are launched.

    Best regards,

  2. TG says:

    catchy little title, Hehe

  3. EVL says:

    Just happened upon your page and definitely will review additional ones. Looks like real great stuff.

  4. MRW says:

    Keep up the good work guys!

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