How wide a frame can you put around your future?

I love this quote from Cathie Black, former president of Hearst Magazines, who wrote a letter to her younger self in the book by Ellyn Spragins: What I know now about success: Letters from extraordinary women to their younger selves.

Cathie wrote to herself at a time in her life when she was the Manager of Advertising Sales for Gloria Steinem, and was attempting to sell to advertisers who could not see the “huge untapped market of women with income, authority, and decision-making power,” who were the intended audience of Ms. magazine. She encouraged herself to:

Aspire to be a lot more than you ever previously imagined. Could you become a publisher of a magazine – something no woman has ever done? Could you travel in larger circles? Why not let your ideas about yourself grow big? How wide a frame can you put around your future?

This is a wonderful example of what is called “reframing” in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), something I’ve been doing since the early 90’s when I discovered Anthony Robbins. A frame is the contextual wrapper that we put around our experiences, that can limit what we see as possible, or open up new possibilities. Recently I went to see Richard Bandler, the co-inventor of NLP, who explained that by changing the frame, we can look at things from a different perspective, and become more (or less) resourceful.

Cathie’s reframe urged her younger self to move her focus from the immediacy of her challenging situation and look outside that situation to the bigger picture of her life.

I find this small shift in thinking incredibly useful, and  this particular type of reframe, from seeing the trees to looking more at the forest, is something that helps me get through the days when things are broken, incomprehensible, or just plain frustrating and to the days that are wide open, unlimited and joyous.