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The Power of Reframing

Reframing is a powerful perspective-changing tool with which someone takes a thing out of its expected context and forces the viewer to re-experience it as something that completely changes his or her mind about it.

Ronald Reagan did this to Jimmy Carter in 1980. President Carter was going on about something anti-Republican in that year’s debates, and Reagan busted him up on national television saying “There you go again…”

And in ’84, when a much-younger Walter Mondale was trying to make his opponent seem too old, Reagan replied that he had no intention of making an issue of the Democratic candidate’s “youth and inexperience.”

For those readers that were born after 1984, let’s take an example served up to us by director Quentin Tarantino. At the end of part one of his two-act play Kill Bill, Tarantino uses a piece of music that I’ll bet for thirty years had been laughed at as “lame” and “girlish” to thunderclap the piece to a close. It’s James Last (and oh yes, I remember James Last Does His Thing on LP from my childhood) and pan flute player Zamfir combining for “The Lonely Shepherd”, backed by a rockin’ updated bass and horn beat. Now Zamfir may have sold 40 million recordings, but did you ever hear anyone offer up one of his albums as a Saturday night suggestion?

This is the power of reframing. Millions of people who never heard of Zamfir and never would except for Tarantino’s winding of a flute-playing Bill into the mix were exposed to this music and loved it. For those of you who need to listen to it now, it’s here.

That’s the power of reframing. How can you use it to turn what was the geeky and awkward into a success? If you’re looking for ideas personalized to your situation, let me know.

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