Heyerdahl eventually became world famous, but when he was
much younger, he made a hundred-mile trek on skis across a mountain
wilderness in Norway in the winter. On this trek, he discovered
a way to boost his own morale.
Thor was a young man, challenging himself
with a difficult task. But his adventure turned into a dangerous
ordeal. A horrendous storm struck the mountains, blowing into
a blizzard. The wind blew so hard, Thor had to lean forward almost
horizontally to stay upright. His skis became so covered with
ice he could hardly move them.
But Thor kept moving forward. He said to
himself over and over, This is the thing to turn a boy
into a man.
He was doing just what Nick should have been
doing in The Game. Thor
was reinterpreting what was obviously a miserable experience.
He reframed it into a transforming test of manhood. He reframed
it into a rite of passage. And because of his reframe, he was
strong and determined. His reframe gave him strength. Your reframes
can give you strength and determination in the face of your challenges.
Wise people, wrote M. Scott
Peck, learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems.
You know why thats wise? Because youre going to get
problems. If you welcome them and embrace the challenge, you
will be better at solving them. And you will be less upset or
depressed by problems when they come along (which they will).
Al Siebert, a man who has spent 40 years
studying the psychology of survivors, wrote, One way guaranteed
to increase your distressing experiences is to not want to be
where you are. Your emotional distress decreases by deciding,
like a flower seed, to bloom where you are planted.
Some people may naturally welcome problems
because they are freaks of nature. The rest of us can learn to
welcome problems by getting in the habit of framing problems
as "opportunities in disguise." We can learn to welcome
problems by deliberately trying to see whats good about
the problem by deciding right up front, This is
good, and then working to make it so.
I once lost a job because the company I
worked for closed. At first I was shocked. But I decided right
then I would make sure I would eventually be glad this happened.
At that point, I didnt know what the future held. So I
chose a point of view that would help me.
And I took this seriously I really
tried to think about how I could get myself a better job, and
what that might be. I wasn't just thinking positively. I was
determined about it, committed to it. I was going to make sure
I was glad this happened.
And I was. I remember later realizing I
had done what I set out to do: I was glad that old business closed.
I found a much better job.
Any little trick you can use to help you
think of problems as good will help. I remember reading
about a business executive who would always respond to bad news
with an enthusiastic Thats good! And then he
would seek to find what was good about it, or to make what happened
turn out for the best. It might sound crazy, but his was a practical
response to something that had already happened. He was very
successful. No doubt, an important part of his success was his
response to problems. With an attitude like that, you don't shy
away from problems, and you keep your eyes open while you're
dealing with them.
The funny thing is, after doing this several
times (saying Thats good and then making sure
youre glad the bad thing happened) you can
actually say, Thats good! with some confidence.
You have confidence in yourself that you really will make sure
youre eventually glad it happened.
Sales trainers often give their salespeople
mental tricks to help them see rejections as not so bad, or even
as a good thing. Do you think youd have to be a nutcase
to think that way? Lets say you are selling something door-to-door,
and someone slams a door in your face. How could you possibly
see that as a good thing?
Thats a great question. And if you
thought about it, Im sure you could come up with a few
ideas. And although at first those ideas might not make a salesperson
feel any better, and the thoughts themselves would seem unnatural
and unfamiliar, salespeople who succeed eventually learn to think
that way, and it becomes as natural and familiar as the old way
of thinking used to, and they no longer feel bad when people
say no. They might even feel good!
One of the classic reframes of rejection
used by salespeople the world over is, This is a numbers
game. If my sales record shows that one out of every ten people
say yes, then that means the person who said no brought me closer
to the one who will say yes!
Instead of seeing the rejection as a bad
thing, a salesperson can actually (and legitimately) see it as
a good thing. That rejection moved them one step closer to victory.
Its all in how you look at it. Reframing
seems like a magicians trick or something superficial,
but it is tremendously powerful and people who get things accomplished
in this world all learn to do it, consciously or not.
Bandler, one of the co-founders of NLP, says when he was teaching college, he
once had a student who complained his house was being bugged.
Bandlers reply was, What a chance to talk to these
Bandler gave the student other ideas. The
student could play Milton Erickson tapes over and over (Erickson
is a legendary hypnotherapist). Why not practice deep trance
inductions and put the people bugging you into trance and give
them hypnotic suggestions?
Bandler didnt look for what was wrong
with being bugged. He looked for a way to take advantage of it.
You can learn to have the same mental habit. Find the advantage
and think of the adversity in terms of the advantage.
Milton Erickson himself was a master reframer.
For example, when he was a therapist, a distressed young couple
came to see him. Erickson talked to the young wife alone first
and she told him the whole, sad story.
The man she married had been somewhat of
a playboy, but on their wedding night, he couldnt get an
erection for her. They had tried and tried for two weeks now
and he still wasnt able to do it. She was deeply hurt by
this and she wanted an annulment.
But Erickson said, in essence, But
dont you see what a compliment this is to you? He is so
overwhelmed by you, he isnt able to do what he was able
to do with other women. You are the overwhelming girl. You go
into the next room and think about that, and send him in.
The young man came in and told the whole
sad story. He was at the end of his rope. He didnt know
what to do, or what was wrong with him. The young man said he
finally found the woman of his dreams. She was beautiful. He
said he'd been somewhat of a playboy, having sex with many women.
But he finally found his one and only and he was
On their wedding night, however, he couldnt
get it up.
The young man was very upset by this. Erickson
said to him, in essence, Now you know she is truly the
one the one who has finally overwhelmed you. Dont
you see? Nobody else has ever had this effect on you. You have
found and married the overwhelming girl.
Erickson then sent them home. By the time
they got home, they were bursting to get into bed, and they successfully
had sex, and never had a problem with sex again.
Why? It was a classic Ericksonian reframe.
Instead of an insult, which was a legitimate way to interpret
his flaccid state, Erickson gave another and much more positive
interpretation, which took away her hurt feelings and took away
the pressure on him, and then everything could work naturally
without being impeded by her hurt feelings or his distressing
(and therefore non-arousing) feelings.
Ericksons new interpretation wasnt
more true than the old one, but it had more satisfying results.
Think of something right now that is interfering
with the achievement of your most important goal. What is in
your way? What is slowing you down? What do you think of as a
Now sit down with a paper and pen and try
to come up with ten reframes for that problem. If this exercise
seems like "work," reframe it into a fun game.
Read next: Create
Persistence and Determination With Reframes.
Go back to the beginning of the series:
A Way of Looking