The Power of a Reframe: Leadership, Life, and Limitations

Susan S Freeman Blog

reframeI frequently get to test the power of principles I use in coaching leaders.  One of these is the power of a “reframe” to create meaning from events in our lives.  In the first week of the New Year, I was celebrating the end of 2016—(yes)!  and inviting in all the new possibilities 2017 might offer.  In last few years I’ve noticed January is an “off” month, so I was doing everything I could to offset this.  Intentionality was foremost in my mind.

Evidently, the offsets weren’t terribly effective, because a few days ago I broke my pinkie toe.    It’s not a big deal.  I’ve broken numerous toes (unfortunately) in my adult life, and at least this time I was doing something I loved– yoga.    Yet I was really bummed.  Just as the beautiful Florida winter was here and I wanted to spend lots of time walking outside in nature, I was laid up, and for 4-6 weeks.

My mind was going back to the “I can’t believe this happened in January, just as the New Year was full of exciting possibilities.”  I noticed this happening, and started getting some altitude on my thoughts.  “Well, at least I am strong, flexible and capable of a rigorous yoga practice.”  And after that, “I guess having to elevate my foot this month will yield me the time to write my next book.”

Amazing!  The reframe was working.  I went from feeling pretty bad about all that I could not do to being excited about what I could finally do!

reframeWhat about you? 

What has been limiting you?

What can you reframe to make that different?

I had a client who had to deal with the aftermath of an injury that impacted him significantly.  Understandably, he longed for a return to his previous “life without limitations.”  I listened, and acknowledged his desire.   Then I asked “how can you let your limitations help you live your life?”

We all have limitations; small, large, physical, mental, emotional.  None of us escapes limits.  I believe what’s important is learning to reframe our limitations so they can be deployed as guides, to assist us in our lives.  Limitations offer us opportunities to be creative, insightful, humorous, determined, connected, and more.

Who would I be without my limitations?  Not nearly as much as I am with them.

I invite you to share your comments here.

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