Hands Down, The Best Life Metaphor Ever

Written by on 22 Sep 2015

I’m a sucker for a good metaphor.


All the world’s a stage.


Books are the mirrors of the soul.


The squeaky wheel gets the grease.


Young love is about as awkward as two porcupines trying to mate.


Yes, I know that’s a simile. But still. It inspired this blog, so I had to include it!


But in all seriousness, I love a good metaphor. They have the power to bring abstract concepts to life. They give our words movement in time and space. They paint pictures that allow us to understand stories in a more profound way.


So when I heard this unexpected metaphor for life today, I just had to share it with Timmbit Nation.


(Really hoping that sticks, btw.)


By night, I’m here with you on tracytimm.com and on the podcast starting in November.


(Sign up for email updates on the podcast here.)


But by day, I have a life just like all of you. I get up and do my morning routine (shower, make breakfast, make the bed, read a devotional to get inspired, read CNN to get sobered, read the Daily Awesome to get inspired again) and try to get my butt out the door at a reasonable time.


I do that so I can best serve my day job—working with organizational leaders to teach them how to hire, manage, promote, and motivate using behavioral psychology.


Sometimes my days are spent doing the things that I love. Public speaking, writing, coaching, inspiring, motivating, teaching… the squishy, people stuff.


Sometimes my days are spent doing the things that I don’t love. Cold-calling, following up, cold-calling, following up, cold-calling… and oh… did I mention following up?




On those days, it’s pretty much guaranteed that at least one person will hang up on me, one person will casually cast me aside as if I were something other than a human being with feelings, and one person will make me question why on earth I do the work that I do in the first place.


Clearly, these are the reasons that I do not love that kind of work.


But it has to be done.


But today, during one of my less-than-love phone call sessions, I had a surprise.


Today, one call made it all worthwhile.


I was making calls this afternoon, following up for what can only be described as the ump-teenth time with several individuals who are in some stage of the buying process.


I’m sure they are actually in some stage of the “completely-blowing-Tracy-off” process, but I prefer my rosier interpretation.


To-MAY-to. To-MAH-to.


The calls seemed to be going pretty well.


Yes, Tracy, I’m so excited about working with you, but call me next Monday.

Of course, I haven’t forgotten about you, I’m just swamped. Can you send me that email again?

Oh, right that girl who did the thing. I loved that. ::long pause:: What was that again?


Honestly, that’s not that bad.


Trust me.


But then,.. I stumbled on Will.


Will is a local business owner and self-described soon-to-be-billionaire. He's been in my pipeline for a while now, and is currently in the stage of mulling over a contract (at least, that's what I think).


Will and I have boiled down our professional follow-up to a texting conversation that's fueled by witty banter and various noncommittal phrases such as “depth and expansion” and “yea, that will need some thought.”


Hilarious, but hardly putting money in my pocket.


Today, however, Will came out guns blaizng with a brand new conversational medium: text audio.


For those of you with iPhones, text audio is what you get when you hold down the microphone in the bottom right corner of the text message screen.


For those of you without iPhones or those of you over the age of… well… probably 30 if we’re being honest here… text audio is the equivalent of leaving a voicemail without actually ever calling the person you want to talk to.


It’s a whole ‘nother level of noncommittal conversation.


But, people, if you ever receive a text audio from Will…


You will want to save it.


His audio messages are pure gold.


Tracy Timm! There she is! Checking in! Old Faithful!


For those of you in sales, being called "Old Faithful" is either a really awesome or a really horrible thing. Simultaneously you're being applauded for your persistence and being chastised for your inability to close a damn sale.


Exclamation points were not added for emphasis. Those were Will's.


It’s just where I’m at these days, Tracy Timm.


Again, boldness was not added for emphasis. It was real.


You know what you should do… you should use me for advice.


This last statement intrigued me, so I poked back at him. Ok, Will… lay some advice on me.


You remember the metaphor I referenced at the beginning of this post? Will sent me a three minute long text audio that included one of the best metaphors for life I have heard to date.


That’s why I’m going to share it with you today.


It’s pure gold.


Will was sitting in his car when he said…


Tracy… I gotta know what we’re doing here (at this point I'm thinking he's talking about sales... he's not.)


Right now I’m looking at my speedometer, and it says zero because I’m at a stop sign.


In a minute, it’s going to say 40 or 30 or 50 or however fast I decide to go down this road.


But my speedometer says zero to 120… so here’s my question.


So, we’re moving needles, right? That’s all we’re doing. That’s all this game is.


And my question is this—what needle are we moving?


And here’s the real question, the more specific question—why??


Why?! What’s the intent behind this thing?


There’s no wrong answer. It just has to add fuel. The intent has got to be the gasoline in the engine.


Do you know what I’m saying?!


That’s all it has to do.


It has to be real enough to provide you with fuel.


So what’s the intent?


Ok, great! And then, how do we know when Tracy Timm has won?!


How do we know when we’re moving that needle that you won? What’s the goal? What’s the outcome?


How do we know that?!


Because, if we know what winning looks like, and we’re very clear on that and it’s measurable, then we can manage it. Then we can say this:


Here’s the intent. Here’s the goal. Here’s the needle.


Now what is gonna make that needle MOVE?


I’m trying to move that dang needle every... single... day.


I will meet with you on a weekly basis (oh ya, we’re going weekly, and if it gets too intense we’re going bi-weekly). I mean, let’s make some progress here, people!


If the needle doesn’t budge after a week, that’s ok. After two weeks, I get it. After three weeks, the needle’s gotta start moving.


That needle has got to move!


So what is it that causes that needle to move?


And how do we know that it will move by the end of week one? What activities are going to tell us by the end of day one that the needle isn’t going to move by the end of the week because we are doing activities that don’t move the needle?


What are my key indicators?!


What are the things that move that needle?!


That’s all I’m asking.


And then I can help you.


Hopefully this audio has already been helpful, but then I can actually help you.


If I know the fuel is in the engine and I know what winning looks like and we have a needle and I know what moves the needle… hey, now we’re talkin’ here.


Once that’s done, let’s have some fun with it.


I think it’s gonna work.




Hells-to-the-yeah it’s gonna work!


This was, hands down, the most succinct, most inspiring, most relatable, most understandable, and dammit the most downright entertaining piece of advice I’ve ever received in my life.


And it was… completely unsolicited.


So I pose these questions to you, Timmbit Nation:


What’s your fuel?!

Is your fuel even in the engine?!

What does winning look like for you?!

What’s your needle?!

And how are you going to make that dang needle move?!


Because then, we’re talkin’.


And then, we can have some fun.


Go out there. Get inspired. Choose your path. Fuel your engine. Determine your needle. Do the things that you need to do to make that dang needle move.


And then, you can get to speeding down the road of life.



Now I want to hear from you!

What needle are we moving?

What does winning look like, and what are the activities we need to be doing to make that dang needle move?!

Leave your thoughts in a comment below!

    • tracy   On   28 Sep 2015 at 8:25 pm

      That’s great to hear, Barbie! Thanks for the positive feedback, and I’m glad to hear this was valuable for you.

  1. Suzanne McLennan   On   14 Oct 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Love this! When you know what fuels your “car” then you know that fuel is not free. Then for me it means earning the bucks to get to my goal. It means I may need to continue working in a job I’m not that crazy about but it’s just another example of “We do what we have to do so we can get to where we want to go or do what we want to do”. This has helped me clarify (and I put it down on paper)that what I am currently doing is the “fuel” for my flame!

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