When we moved a few years ago into a different home, we brought with us boxes of photos and photo frames. Yet, as we unpacked, not everything fit in the new house the same way it had before. We had to make choices about what to frame and what images to hang.
As I reflect on that process of going through boxes of photos, artwork and frames, it got me thinking about how important framing is in the midst of crisis and transition. We can have an overwhelming amount of messy information (photos in a box) and lots of different perspectives or mindsets (frames). We get to choose what we focus on and how we frame it. Our words are powerful in that process!
Scripture tells us to “set our minds on things above” and to focus our thoughts on “whatever is pure, noble, praiseworthy.” God gives us the permission and the power to choose where we fix our eyes. He also shows us the model of “calling to mind” the victorious attributes of God even in the midst of isolation, pain and suffering.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.Lamentations 3:21-26
Clarity can come simply by deciding what it is you want to focus on and then using language that frames every experience, every challenge, every victory in those terms.
So, what kinds of words help you frame clarity in the midst of transition?
- Values vs. outcomes: Even when (especially when) the seas get stormy, your “why” is part of what anchors your actions. When the future is unclear and the control you have over outcomes is fleeting, focus on what you know and what you can control…your values. Ask these questions:
- What are our organizational values?
- If we strip away all the products, services, tasks…what do we stand for?
- What need(s) do we meet?
- How can I keep our values front and center in this crisis so they help guide us?”
- Possibility vs. scarcity: When we are faced with a crisis, we often go to fight or flight and our tendency is to pull back and hoard resources. The more powerful way to approach crisis is to focus on possibility. Ask questions like:
- What might be possible?
- How can we meet that need now?
- What resources do we have available now?
- Flexibility vs. solution: We often want to resolve the tension of the crisis and get through to the other side, but sometimes that process takes a lot of time and experimentation. Focus on language that gives you room to experiment and recalibrate.
- Let’s pilot that.
- What could we do to adapt now that we have this information?
- How did that work? What part was helpful?”
Try this to Reclaim Clarity:
Step 1: Set aside 15 minutes in a quiet place. Name one area of your leadership where you are unclear. Imagine yourself holding 3 picture frames (write it down on paper if it helps):
- Organizational Values
Step 2: Visualize yourself “framing up” the information about that area into the three frames. Use the questions above to get you thinking.
Step 3: What do you notice? Share your thoughts with a colleague or write them down.
Step 4: Repeat on a regular basis. Train your team how to do the same!
How did it go? What are your thoughts about the experience of framing? Share in the comments below.