If my memory serves me, Florida is supposed to be warm, sunny, and a good place to escape to during winter weather. It’s not any of those things at the moment. But I suppose it’s all relative, because, in spite of low temperatures by Florida standards, it’s a vast improvement over most of the country, which is suffering with record lows and giant storms.
The flags on my dock are blowing at full speed, driven by intense high winds. The sunrise was hard to notice because the sky is dim and overcast, and the air has a chill. Yet I love the smell of salt air and the sound of pelicans, ospreys, and cranes flying over the choppy, splashing water. Chilly or not, I’ve got nothing to complain about.
Vacation Is Over
Today is a bit of a somber day, but also one to celebrate. Is it possible for two conflicting emotions to be trapped in my brain at the same time? My kids leave us today to return to college, which is sad. It’s been fun having them around. But it means our empty-nester routine can go back to normal, and we won’t have to deal with dishes left in the sink and stocking the fridge with mounds of food for starving college-age appetites. Still, it’s all met with mixed emotions.
It’s a joke in our family: Daddy’s going to cry again. I tear up a little when the kids or other family members leave. I always have. But somehow it helps to reframe the situation to consider all the benefits of having them leave. 🙂
Hanging a New Frame on the Wall
Reframing is a concept I wish someone had taught me years sooner. Being able to manipulate my own thinking has been helpful, because doing it lets me gain a new perspective.
For example, I could never seem to grow my company beyond a certain level. I always looked at my business as a publishing company, and as long as I thought of it as publishing, I seemed to fall into the trap of only selling ads and subscriptions. My first reframing was to tell myself I was also in the events business. By doing that, I started to consider things I’d not previously considered, like creating conferences. The result was a massive increase in my business.
Later I added “travel” to my reframe, and I broadened my business into travel services like painters’ events. And when I hit a wall, I reframed my business as a direct response marketing company, which impacted how we sold products. This was revolutionary. So whenever I find myself stuck, I search for a reframe.
A Classic Reframe
It’s so easy to fall into traps. Edison famously said that he hadn’t failed 10,000 times, he’d just found 10,000 approaches that wouldn’t work. This reframe allowed him to persevere until he found answers, long after most of us would have given up.
Reframe Away Stress
In 2002, my company, RadioCentral (one of the first Internet radio services), blew up, and my own board of directors fired me from the company I founded. Though I could have told myself I was doomed, I reframed it as a new opportunity to do work differently. My last day of work was the day my triplets came home from the hospital, so I reframed that I could now work from home and be a dad, being there for my wife and kids. It melted the stress away and made a huge difference.
Writer and cartoonist Scott Adams talks about reframing drinking by simply asking himself, “Why would I put poison in my system?” Every time he was tempted to take a drink, he would tell himself he was about to pour poison down his throat.
The Classic Reframe
I’ve heard it a million times. “No one ever says on their deathbed, ‘I should have worked more.’” This reframe works great when you’re a workaholic, like I used to be, or when you’re guilt-tripping about whether you really need to work on a weekend.
Of course, the deathbed can be used to reframe other things, like stress. “Is this going to matter when I’m on my deathbed?” No, of course it won’t. Whatever it is won’t even be a speck on the radar. Stop worrying.
A couple of weeks ago, I was having some issues in my business, and I found myself lying in bed with my head spinning about the problems. Then I remembered something my dad said he used to do. He reframed by saying, “Stress only keeps me from thinking clearly and leads me to worse decisions.” So he gave up worry and stress.
If Dad was having a sleepless night, he would get out of bed, write down everything he was worried about on a tablet, then go through the list one at a time: “Can I do anything to solve this problem tonight?” If he could, he did. But most things had to wait, which allowed him to reframe: Worry only disrupts sleep, which impacts your ability to deal with things properly in the morning.
Though these little tricks seem overly simplified, they are very effective at tricking your brain to overcome the things that are bothering you.
What areas do you need to reframe? Will these things matter in two weeks? In five years, or 10 years, or at the end of your life? Probably not.
Flip the Switch
Sometimes reframing is so powerful that it’s like flipping a switch, turning a problem off or revealing an opportunity.
What is your biggest problem today? Reframe it.
Reframing the Economy
I have lots of artist friends who tell me they are not selling any artwork because the economy is bad. Others I know reframe it and tell themselves, “This is the best time to advertise because there are fewer people advertising. As a result, I can steal everyone else’s customers. And for those who aren’t buying now, I’m branding myself at a time when I can brand more easily and effectively because there are fewer advertisers. When things change, the people who can’t buy now will seek me out when they are ready.”
It’s a brilliant strategy, and it’s been proven to work. Kellogg’s was launched during the Great Depression. Post, king of the cereal category at the time, ignored Kellogg’s because they believed no one could take away their market dominance. So Post did no advertising while Kellog poured it on. By the end of the Depression, Kellogg’s had the number one market share, and Post has not caught up to this day.
What do I need to reframe?
Where do I find myself stuck?
Where do I continually have drama in my life?
What things bother me that shouldn’t?
Reframing is a great way to overcome any issue.
During the pandemic, I reframed my fear. “How am I going to survive? How will I meet payroll?” Business had come to a complete stop. Then I started reframing… “People are scared to death, what can I do to help them? My people are not busy, I might as well do some things to keep them busy, entertained, and help them overcome their fear.”
First I launched a daily YouTube program called Art School Live. I broadcast free art lessons with other artists every day of the week for seven months. After seven months, I reduced it to five days a week, and it has gone on since and continues to this day. It was showing up when no one else was, and I ended up reaching millions, building my YouTube subscribers to over 100,000. And it helped my business in other ways. In fact, because of it, my artist retreats are selling out four or five months in advance, and the Plein Air Convention has only 41 seats left, five months in advance.
A Painful Day
In the first week of COVID shutdowns, we had 95 percent of the Plein Air Convention attendees cancel, and we refunded everyone’s money who asked. It was painful, but it was the right thing to do. But rather than saying we couldn’t have a convention, we reframed it; we would start doing art conventions online. This resulted in launching our online events. The income from those events saved our business.
The End of a Good Thing Did Not End
When COVID was over, all the experts said online conferences were over. But instead of stopping, we reframed them as online conferences for people who were unable to travel, who were at home raising kids or taking care of someone, and for those who couldn’t spend the money for an in-person event. The reframe saved the events, which continue strong to this day. As a matter of fact, our next event, Watercolor Live, is January 24-26. If you want to learn watercolor, you should at least come to our Essential Techniques Day for beginners or as a refresher.
Every problem or challenge can be addressed with a reframe.