To Change the Quality of Your Life, Change Your Frame

To Change the Quality of Your Life, Change Your Frame

In December 2000, after three major knee surgeries in five years for a recurring tumor, my doctor told me I probably would get off the crutches one day, but I would never be able to walk normally, ride a bike, or go up and down stairs, and I should just get used to it. Two years later, in December 2002, I walked my first marathon.

What happened? I didn’t like the picture the doctor had painted of my future, so I changed it. Instead of staying within the confines of his framework, I expanded the boundaries by changing the questions. Rather than accepting the bleak prognosis, I challenged it by envisioning a different picture altogether, one in which I could do all of those things he pronounced me incapable of doing – and more. Instead of surrendering to victim mode by asking the unproductive “Why me?” question, I asked “How can I improve the quality of my life?” The latter question enabled me to change the frame, ask different questions, and find the answers I needed to change the outcome of this story.

“Framing” means to define a situation or paint a mental picture of it. Much like a physical frame defines the boundaries and affects the way we see the picture or photograph it surrounds, a mental frame influences our view of a given situation. Just as framing skills are key to leaders’ effectiveness, so they are critical to individuals’ personal quality of life. We all are capable of changing our frames at will. If you don’t like the picture, change the frame. While the situation you are facing won’t necessarily change, the way that you experience that situation will change for the better, thus improving the quality of your life. It’s as simple as that. And it’s your choice.

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.

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