The Art of Reframing


All the high performers, top achievers, and successful leaders I know have mastered the art of reframing.   They have put in place a habit of looking at every situation, circumstance and challenge from many different perspectives and choosing to reframe to their advantage.   

If you have not mastered this yet, you’ll want to lean in to this conversation.  Most of us can bring to mind a parent, grand-parent or teacher who had that ability to see a silver-lining in every situation and spin our struggle or set-back into something positive.   If we didn’t have that experience in our own life we surely knew someone who did.   

Through out all of history mankind has had the ability to see a situation from a different view point or perspective.   Your point of view is based on your overall programming.   And let’s be clear, you didn’t program yourself.  Your programming is a combination of your environment, family, culture, beliefs, and your personality. 

Although you didn’t program yourself, you can re-program yourself.  You can update those programs when ever you chose.   AND should (another blog)

If you generally see things as bad or uncomfortable you may have an overall program running that will first go to the negative when assessing your situation.  To know if this is you, you can pause and reflect on the past several weeks and see how you viewed the things that happened.  You could also ask someone close to you how they perceive you.

If you have a happy go lucky frame of mind you may think that same negative situation is an opportunity.  Therefore, your overall view of your reality has much bearing on how you see things.  

Do you view the world as friendly or hostile.   Do you believe others have more talent and intelligence than you do?   

This is often described as your mindset.   The work of Carol Dweck summarized mindsets into two categories; growth and fixed.

Someone with a fixed mindset might hold these thoughts:

“Either I’m good at something or I’m not.”

“There is no point in trying when I’ll only fail.”

“I’m intimidated by the success of others.”

“I’m too old to learn.”

“Your feedback feels like a personal attack.” 

The growth mindset automatically begins to reframe these statements.    WHY?  Often because they hold a different belief.  They may also know that these statement are all false, they are not true.  


“if you think you can or you think you can’t you are correct.”  

~Henry Ford

The growth mindset is not immune to the voice of the inner critic, they do however, know how to quickly reframe their thoughts.   

This reframing provides inspiration, motivation, and aids one with resilience and coping skills to preserver. 

What is reframing?

Reframing is taking a result and reframing it towards the positive. 

A few examples are:

Say you lost your job.  Whether you were laid off or fired, you would dwell on poor me. This isn’t fair.  Why did this happen to me?   A reframe would begin by seeing the job loss as an opportunity to line you up with an even better paying job, doing what you love, and closer to home.   

What if you just received a health diagnosis?  Instead of going into worry, anxiety, blaming yourself ,or feeling like a victim which will get you no where.  A reframe could start with, okay now it’s time to take my healthy seriously and start by eating better, getting daily exercise and educating myself on ways to improve my health. 

You just had a conversation with your boss.  He isn’t happy with the work you are doing. He had 5 or 6 complaints that he just drilled you with.  You are feeling really bad unworthiness, with low self-esteem. A reframe could go in several directions.   One might be to first calm yourself and see that maybe your boss is having a really bad day and what IF you could see this as an opportunity to gain new a skillset or mindset – even training paid for by the company, that will aid you in the future.  Then you might have another conversation with your boss to say I want to do good work – work we are both proud of – will you work with me to craft of plan of action to help me improve my performance? Is there a training that the company might get behind?  Another idea of reframing would be to reflect on the accuracy of the statements made and see your own errors and then thank your boss for bringing them to your attention, and you might even add that you work best when these issues are shared as they happen instead of weeks later and all at one time.   You could ask your boss to give more immediate feedback to help you stay on track and deliver better work.

I’m a firm believer that how you feel is GPS of sorts. It tells you if your thinking is incorrect. If you feel rotten, you thoughts may not be true or in your best interest.  If you feel crummy you are in need of reframe.  Often times the reframe is telling the story correctly and always with a positive spin that you growing, learning and becoming a better version of you.   The reframe comes from hope, possibility, and potential for more.

Reframing is a leadership skill every leader can benefit from.  As you master the art of reframing for yourself, you are able to reframe in your conversation with peers, team members, and staff.  This is just one way leaders can empower others. The art of reframing is a beautiful tool in relationships too.   

When reframing is mastered you naturally think possibility and peak potential.  You see the greatness in yourself and others.  

I share a simple tool to help you remember when you get caught in some stinking thinking or negative thoughts.   When reframing I like to get out of the negative situation quickly and fastest way out is with a CAR – sure beats walking….  The CAR stands for:

C-uriosity   –  get curious as to your thoughts, beliefs and stories and see if they serve your highest growth and best regard

A-cceptance –  Accept what shows up in your awareness  – this is a judgment free zone

R-eframe – this is where you will craft a new story to serve your highest good

Share how reframing has helped you.

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