A marketer's pursuit in living a meaningful life

Framing: The Power of Approach


There are two kinds of people in this world: People who understand the power of framing and those that don’t know about the principle of framing.

That right there is a frame in and of itself. I painted the picture of two types of people and you applied which one best suited you. The frame is the stance and approach we take when presenting information. We can approach the same topic multiple ways and therefore come to radically different assumptions and conclusions. Are there really two kinds of people in this world? Only if we break it down to one variable that is dualistic. The point of that expression is to frame a topic in such a way that it catches the attention of potential readers.

To help define frames in this way, we can look at the actual frame of a painting. The frame is what we look through to view the painting. The painting can stay the same, but the frame is interchangeable. The painting represents anything you’re deriving meaning from and the frame represents how you’re processing that information. The data stays the same, but how we process it into information can change.

Let’s take on the position that the painting is our career and the frame is how we navigate it. We all have a set of skills that we have developed over our lifetimes. We can change the way we frame our skills to meet various needs.

I have this skill set, how can I apply it?

From a young age we are taught that what we know best defines who we are as individuals. There are the kids good at math, the other ones at reading, some with a talent for the arts, and the ones with a talent for the sports. We define ourselves by these traits. I’m good at math therefore I’m analytical. I enjoy reading therefore I think critically. I’m an artist therefore I’m creative. I throw balls far therefore I’m physical.

When we define ourselves in these ways, we limit the diversity of our skill set and what we can apply it to. She keeps excelling on the field so she spends more time in the weightroom. He keeps excelling at painting so he spends more time working on his technique. We focus on increasing the value and effectiveness of the few tools we have deemed most important for success. And it works, if you’re the best. If you create the best skill set to solve a specific problem, you will succeed. If you can throw a ball farther than anyone else, we’ll find a job for you. If you’re not the best, or at least among them, then you’re not guaranteed success.

If our outlook on life, the frame in which we approach our work through, is viewed through the lens of having a skill set to apply, we will find limited places to apply it to. There are jobs created for your skill set. But if that skill set is easy to come by or the number of jobs for it are scarce, life will be harder for you. So how else can we frame what we know?

There is a problem, how can I fix it?

When we remove ourselves from the situation, we remove our set of skills. That means we remove the bias in which we think is the best way to help. Being able to look at the problem in front of us objectively opens up new avenues to solve it. We are no longer limited in our creativity in finding a solution. We can look at all the options and choose the best one for the job, not the option that best fits our skill set. Then we can adapt our skills and how we use them to work towards this new found solution.

Are you in the business of doing what you know best or do you solve problems? Sometimes the two will align, most of the time they won’t. Having the awareness to step back and approach the problem in front of you from a different angle is a powerful tool. Put yourself in the shoes of the person that would be best suited for the optimal solution. What would they do? If you don’t know, reach out to someone who does. Allocation gives you power to do what you do best. Solve the problem the way it’s meant to be solved, not the way that you want to solve it.

How can we directly apply this concept of frames into our lives? Let’s look at how one person can frame their life in two different ways:

I have this skill set, how can I apply it?

I’m a coal miner. I have the skills required to efficiently mine coal from the Earth. If we opened my toolkit there would be tools for mining. I have a family to feed and coal mining is a good paying job. Therefore, I support people and legislation that keeps the coal miners in business.

There is a problem, how can I fix it?

We have a problem with energy production. There are limited natural resources to be excavated and it costs us billions of dollars to import them from other countries. How can I help fix this? Being a coal miner, I have the skills required to efficiently produce the means for energy. If we opened up my toolkit there would be years of experience in the power industry and I know the in-and-outs of what it takes to go from a resource to electricity. With a little training, I could help fix our energy production problem by pivoting to the solar power industry. After all, I have a family to feed and I want a stable job in a growing industry. Therefore, I support people and legislation that will help me make this change in my career.

With the same painting but a different frame, we arrive at two very different results. Let’s look at some other examples on how we can reframe a given situation for varied results. Because how we frame it is how we approach it.

  • Do you own an apple pie store or do you sell apple pies?
  • Is he your husband or are you his wife? Or do you see each other as equals and not as possessions?
  • Do you want to be successful or do you create something worth sharing?
  • Are you authentic or are you persuasive?
  • Is this a tough time in your life or do you know you’re going to be okay?
  • Do you pirate music or do you partake in file sharing?

Depending on how you frame what you do, you will approach those things differently. Swap out the lens in which you use to view the world. Try different ones on and see how it makes you feel. Your frame of mind will dictate how events will unfold so choose the one that best fits you and your desires. View life through the lens that will bring you the most of what you seek.

What's on your mind after reading that?

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Jonathan Horiel

I am a marketer by trade, and a story teller by heart. This blog is a compilation of my stories, both personal and career focused. Follow me on my journey and feel free to join anytime.

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