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Frame It Up

Nike shoes.Image via Wikipedia

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region in Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram - or text message - saying, "SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES." The other writes back triumphantly, "GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY STOP THEY HAVE NO SHOES."

The frames our minds create define -- and confine -- what we perceive to be possible. Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view. Enlarge the box, or create another frame around the data, and problems vanish as new opportunities appear.

Konrad Adenauer said, "We all live under the same sky, but we don't all have the same horizon."

Our minds are designed to string events into story lines, whether there is actually any connection between the parts. These story lines are founded on a network of hidden assumptions, accumulated over time. If we can learn to notice and distinguish these stories and their underlying assumptions, then we can shift the framework to stories whose underlying assumptions allow for new perspectives. Henri Bergson says, "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." Even with something as simple as bare feet.

The next time you need -- or just want -- to look at a situation in new and different ways, ask yourself:

  • What assumptions am I making that I'm not even aware of that give me what I see?
  • What might I now invent that I haven't yet invented that would give me other choices?

We can learn to turn HOPELESS SITUATIONS into GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES just by changing the frame around our stories and their underlying assumptions...and never see things quite the same way again.

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