It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon. The sky was blue and dotted with soft, cottony clouds. My wife and I decided to change it up a bit and take a different route as we traveled home from church. We live in an area known as “black dirt” country from where the Northeastern United States is provided most of its onions. Our route took us along Mission Land Road right through the “dirt”. It was awesome as we viewed areas we have known for over a decade as if seeing them for the first time. We were looking at farmland, roads, and buildings that were familiar to us. Yet, that day we saw them differently. We were seeing from a different perspective. It was totally transformative.
Part of our job as leaders is to provide a new and fresh perspective for those we lead. Leadership is bringing that new perspective to bear upon the direction of the organization, the problems being faced, and life in general. It is not the situation or problem that short circuits one’s corporate or personal life, but his or her view of that situation. Changing that perspective begins with us. Abraham Lincoln once said: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
Changing perspective is sometimes called “reframing”. Reframing is to step back from what is being seen, said or done and consider the ‘frame’, or ‘lens’ through which this reality is being created. It is the process of saying “Let’s look at this another way.”
Here are three different actions you can take to reframe a situation or difficulty you are facing either personally or organizationally.
- Change your Vantage Point – Look at the problem from another’s perspective. What would you say to you if you were coaching or advising yourself?
- Picture the problem as if it were something else – It may be something totally absurd or even weird. Many years ago, one of the men in a church I pastored gave a short talk to the men on the spiritual life. He brought a flashlight with him and proceeded to tell how each part of that flashlight represented an important aspect of our life as men of faith. That was more than 2o years ago and I still remember that talk.
- Leave it alone for a while – I have sometimes found that putting an issue aside for a short time helps more than trying to concentrate on a solution. It allows my subconscious to work on a solution while I am engaged in something else.
Using reframing, you will begin to see:
- A problem as an opportunity
- A weakness as a strength
- An impossibility as a distant possibility
- distant possibility as a near possibility
- Oppression (‘against me’) as neutral (‘doesn’t really care about me’)
- Unkindness as lack of understanding
This is a powerful way of dealing not only with issues in our personal lives, but also in our role as leaders.
QUESTION: What is a situation you are currently facing that might benefit from a “reframe”?