After demonstrating the power reframes can have on our own emotions in episode 001 of The Influence Every Day podcast, the obvious pushback would be, "Yeah, but how is this practical? It's all well and good in a made-up imagery session. I just don't see it working in the real world."
Well, ok, here are some examples from the real world - these are my personal examples, so I am intimately familiar with them. More importantly, though, I deliberately practiced rapid reframing until it became a habit. These stories are examples of major pivots in real-time. These moments weren't planned out, so I didn't have time to elegantly craft the best possible reframe language to use. Instead, this "rapid reframe habit" was able to capitalize on unexpected moments of opportunity and turn them into magical gifts. (Here's the Influence Every Day podcast episode where I discuss that 006 Three Transformative Reframes)
Many times, when our emotions flood - when they become all-consuming - it's because we have applied meaning to something. If those emotions are unwanted (or maybe even destructive in a particular situation) sometimes the most impactful reframe is to change the meaning. This is especially the case with worry, fear, or anger.
In this story, I went from alone and angry to a room full of friends and family enjoying themselves less than an hour later... by changing meaning. Here's what happened:
My wife, my six children and my wife spent pretty much the entire day preparing for a gathering of friends and their families at our place. Hours of prep.
About 20 minutes before the guests were due to arrive, I walked into the living room and it was a hot mess. Cushions were off the couches splayed across the floor. A sheet hung from one of the lights and was pinned to the wall. Toys everywhere. E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.
At first, I started boiling. Emotions flooded.
No one else was in the room at that moment. I felt the flood and, for me, I have a habit of checking in when I feel the flood. I took a moment to experience how angry I was. Then I got curious.
That's my check-in habit:
Sometimes anger is a great emotion. It's necessary. But not while I'm safe and secure in my home. And certainly not 20 minutes before the guests arrive. It will change nothing for the better. I have to change my state.
Rapid reframes are great for changing states.
What would've happened if I didn't change my state? What would be the downstream consequences if I called all the kids in and started shouting at them, grounding them, revoking privileges, etc? Kids would be crying as I shouted while we furiously cleaned up.
Then the guests would arrive and the kids would have dirt-streaked tears running down their faces with that post-cry pant and a perpetual frown. They'd probably get stubborn about other stuff I asked them to do and I'd get angrier. I would greet the guests as if nothing happened, but there'd be no hiding it. So, it would get awkward for them.
What did I do? I got curious. "What does this mean?"
"Does it mean disrespect?"
"Does it mean that they don't understand?"
"Does it mean that they just, like, completely flew in the face of it? They just don't care?" Does it mean that?
Or could it mean that I have a lively household that honestly, I should be grateful? I have six healthy kids who play together and yeah, the room's a mess. We have 20 minutes. But you know what? A lot of times people come late. We have time to clean up.
At that moment, I reflected that in about 15 years, this room will be exactly the way I left it the last time I walked out of it. Now at least there's a sense of vibrancy and life. And people are there. And my kids are home because in 15 years they won't be. Maybe they'll be married, they'll be studying. They'll be somewhere else. I took it as a moment to reframe for gratitude. So take anger and reframe it.
Here's what ensued: I put a laundry basket in the corner of the room. I called them all into the room. I lined them up. "Ok guys, see that basket over there? Okay, we have 45 seconds to put all the toys in there. Hey Siri, set a timer for 45 seconds." We started shooting baskets and we were seeing who could hit a shot from the furthest away.
Then, "Okay. Okay, let's put the cushions back on the couch! Ten, nine, eight, seven..." (A countdown does wonders, btw)
It became a game. We had fun before our friends came over, and that set up more fun later. When the guests came over, they were in a much better mood. So was I.
(For those of you wondering if I live in some fairytale household where kids can get away with anything... No, I don't. But in this instance, it was better to take corrective action later - when I was in a better state and when there were no deadlines for the conversation to end)
I was sitting on my couch, not too far from the kitchen. I heard two of my older girls talking, "This is impossible. I know right? This is literally impossible."
From the other room, I barked, "Whoa, whoa, who just said that? Who just said that word?"
"What word? We didn't say anything."
"That word. Impossible. Who said that?"
"It's this cube, this Rubik's Cube thing, you know, it's impossible. We both said it."
I said, "I don't ever want to hear that word in this house. You know how I feel about that, right? About saying things are impossible. When you were born, I literally registered your domain names so that you could potentially maybe I don't know, maybe you'll become president. Maybe you'll become, you know, governor, maybe you'll be a celebrity. So I registered your domain name so your competitors don't get it. Don't tell me something's impossible. Find a way.".
They rolled their eyes simultaneously and the older of the two said, "Yeah, find a way. Okay, you do it." And she threw me the Rubik's Cube. And, I didn't know how to solve it.
So what did I do? After they were like, "Yeah, see? told you so, blah, blah, blah," I logged into Amazon and I ordered two "speed cubes", the type used in competitions. I watched videos over the weekend on how to solve the Rubik's Cube. I learned the patterns. Two-to-three days later, I went to them and I showed them that I could solve it.
And then what happened? I taught a few of the kids and we started competing to see who could finish the fastest.
Demonstration is a means to reframe. When somebody completely sees the opposite of what they thought, it can be shocking. There will be another episode on Pattern Interrupts, but it can shock people into a different frame.
It went from impossible to how quickly can we solve it? Not from impossible to possible, but impossible to how quickly can we get it done? And then it got to the point where we were within only a few minutes of being able to solve the puzzle.
"There must be a better way" - Steve Jobs (allegedly reported multiple times in a single meeting)
Something that appeared to be small talk turned into a transformative, life-changing moment... and, actually, you can do the same thing for people you love.
When you love someone, you want to see them make the best decisions. You want them to have success in every realm of their lives. You want the best for them, right?
Well, understanding what happened in this next story may provide the spark for you to do just that. Rather than just spelling it out here, I turned it into a micro-course. A few free short videos:
Register for the Powerful Change In A Single Conversation micro-course. At first, it was just small talk. But in the end, at least two lives were dramatically changed for the better.
If you’re busy and you want to have incredible success in your career and at home, then take a page out of your Influence Playbook. No more winging it. No more just going through the motions. And no more trying to control things (or people) you can't control.
Instead, control the controllables with The Influence Playbook: