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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Use Metaphor to Teach

Darby searches the world for products and for ideas to help grow his business. Go to the Jackalope homepage linked within the Episode tab. More...

Key Question:


Darby works hard to think of new ways to inspire his team to achieve.  He turns often to those people he considers to be the greatest teachers -- Jesus, Buddha...  He uses metaphor in subtle and unique ways.  Just telling people what to do is not as effective as giving them a new way to think about how to solve a problem.

Darby talks about the Santa Fe Institute.  It is a think tank / research center that focuses on complex systems.  The use of metaphor takes complexity and provides an interior way of accessing components and dynamics within those systems.

Darby's greatest contribution here is to tell us not to be afraid to dive into the unknown and to stretch.  What is the risk?  We need to do it with our families at home and at work.

Think about it

What metaphors do you use now?  Could you use Darby's ant colony metaphor?

Clip from: Jackalope, where myth and poetry meet reality

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Take a little bit of mystery, add fantasy, mix one part entertainment with demonstrations of the arts in progress, then add great food, decorative arts for the home, a little zoo on the side, and space to wander and fantasize about the meaning and value of life ...and you have come to Jackalope. It is a new kind of retail. Part bazaar, a little bizarre, yet always business as art. You have to experience it to believe it and there is no better place than Santa Fe.

Come meet this soft-spoken gentleman, a free spirit who dreams dreams. Meet Darby McQuade.

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Darby McQuade, Founder

2820 Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
505 471 8539

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Year Founded: 1976

Use Metaphor to Teach

HATTIE: (Voiceover) The Santa Fe Institute is a think tank which Darby taps into for rejuvenation.

DARBY: Well, I go to the public lectures that they have very regularly, and it's kind of my religion. And I really enjoy the lectures and things that are going on there. One of the main things that they study is what they call complex adaptive systems. For example with an ant colony, when I think of an ant colony, I figure that the queen is giving directions, everyone is following directions, and that's how things happen. Well, apparently, the queen isn't giving anybody any directions; she's laying eggs, and each group has their task. And within their task, they have a certain number of movements that they do; not very many, but they have a few.

HATTIE: Very specialized.

DARBY: Yeah -- and by the combination of all of those sort of almost yeses and nos, the work gets done, the ant hill grows and all these things, and there isn't--apparently, there is not someone in charge.

HATTIE: Really? So what are you thinking? That no one has to be in charge here?

DARBY: No. Another example is, for example, like a flock of birds. You see them turn, you figure someone said, `OK, everybody.' But apparently there's not a leader.

HATTIE: How does it happen then?

DARBY: Each individual, doing what they do, does the thing that they do, and it happens. But it's not a `time to turn,' someone in charge, apparently. I see, for example, like, mussels or clams or something like that in the surf. And they're where they are, and they're not going anywhere. They got there; that's what they're dealing with. However, although, you know, they're limited in that way, still, the tide's coming in, the tide's going out, and each time it does, they grab for some food. And that's pretty basic, but that's what they do. But still, if they can grab just a tiny bit higher, they can get a little bit more food, and they can get a little bit bigger, and get a little bit more space and have a better chance of procreating because they've done that. It's just, I'm a mussel; we're all mussels and we have our limitations, but a little extra effort we can make a huge difference.

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