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Your reality – take it or lead it…

Time to Read: 1 Min 07 Secs

Time to Listen: 2 Mins 53 Secs

reality – take it or lead it…

“My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened.” – Mark Twain

The following headline was emblazoned on the front page of The Sunday Express on 8 June 2013:

Cancer risk of two beers a year

Your brain may conclude from those seven words that if you drink two beers a year you have a serious risk of dying from cancer.

Or you could conclude that you need to drink more, or less, than two beers a year.

Or you could conclude, as someone did online, that “The Express writes crap, so I immediately knew it wasn’t true.”

Or, after reading the source of the research, you could conclude that the headline is at best irresponsible journalism, at worst scaremongering to sell the paper.

Or you could conclude, as I did, that we hear and read so much conflicting advice about alcohol and food, and health, that no-one really knows, so I will instead go and play with the cat.

Seven words, five different meanings.

Why does this happen?

Because our brains, powerful, lazy and fast that they are, crave a meaning for everything we see, hear and experience.

And, based on our experiences, knowledge and imagination, we come up with a meaning, or “frame.”

Very, very fast and that becomes our reality.

The most frequent question we ask ourselves each and every day is this – “What’s this like?”

And get this; no event has any meaning, other than the meaning that you personally choose to give it.

So, after you have reached a conclusion on what something means, ask yourself if your meaning helps you, or hinders you from achieving your outcomes in your life/relationships/career/organisation.

If it helps you, great – brains love positive frames.

If it hinders you, then your brain has a wonderful little tool in its kitbag. If you choose, you can “reframe” to give a totally new reality to any and all events.

Three examples:

1. A business coach said to me last week “This guy I am coaching hasn’t got a clue what to do” to which I replied “Thank goodness for that, if he had got a clue, he wouldn’t need you to help him.”

2. Two shoe salesmen from different companies travelled to a far-flung country to assess the markets:

After just a day, the first phoned back to base: “They have never even heard of shoes here, let alone worn them…I am coming home on the next flight.”

The second also called in as well: “They have never even heard of shoes here, let alone worn them…send me everything we’ve got.”

3. A personal one. When I was young, and we went to the seaside, my mum would always shout at me not to swim too far out. I found this really annoying and raised it with her a few years later. She said “Would you have preferred me to shout at you to go further out?” Brilliant.

Please share your reframe examples.

With my love and best wishes



10 Responses to Your reality – take it or lead it…

  1. Hi David,

    You and I have exchanged thoughts before on various bits and pieces of leadership, but you touched another nerve of mine with this short piece.

    This “framing” reality or perception paradox hits everybody many times a day and you have summed it all up really well and with humor!

    So much so that I recalled my own mother shouting at me, “Go on, get out further! Is that as far as you can go? You little coward you!”

    I always thought that she was just encouraging me to use my swimming skills and be brave and adventurous.

    Like your own experience, and years later she told me she had really wanted a girl!

    “Framing” at work big time!



  2. Love this David.
    In particular the Mark Twain quote.
    We spend so much time worrying about things that will probably never happen.
    Total wasted energy.

  3. Giving something a meaning. It all comes down to what we make of it.
    I do believe that to be true.
    At a wedding you can think of it as a happy occasion or if it is your friend marrying someone YOU love then it will take on a different meaning altogether.
    It a similar way to redundancy. The end – or a new beginning. It really depends on your take on it.

    • So true Michael, and so often that “meaning” comes from association – I am sure people reading this can think of a very uplifting piece of music – perhaps it was music you had at your wedding.

      And it works both ways – I am equally sure other people reading this can think of a very depressing piece of music – perhaps it was music you had at your wedding.

  4. The music played at a funeral I went to recently was YMCA because the friend who died was a massive fan of Village People and wanted every one of his friends to enjoy themselves despite his passing.
    Weird leaving the crematorium to that, difficult not to laugh actually.

  5. Hiya
    my all-time favourite reframe is this one about ‘nagging’,from Daisaku Ikeda:

    “It would be great if we could live cheerfully, enjoying life to the extent that we regard our partner’s nagging as a sign of his or her good health and proof that he or she is still alive and kicking, then even our partner’s ranting and raving will sound like the sweet song of a bird.” So, when we live our lives with joy and appreciation, reframing becomes much easier. Tweet tweet.

    Another favourite is Tommy Cooper: “Everyone gets butterflies, but the professionals get them to fly in the right formation!”

    And finally: “Failure is something I sometimes do, not something I always am.


  6. If you think positively, then positive things will happen to you, if you don’t, then they won’t.
    The power of positive thinking should not be underestimated.

  7. Swim further out…love that line. Some parents would be shouting, ‘swim further out and don’t come back!’ Ha.

  8. Negative thinkers rarely get the correct message across to their unconscious mind…so they are bound to fail.

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