This weekend we will all be turning our clocks ahead one hour. When this happens, it is not unusual to hear someone say, “I love getting an extra hour of daylight!” This, of course, is not literally true. Turning our clocks ahead one hour does not lengthen the amount of sunlight in a day. For example, the amount of daylight for this Sunday here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin will be 11 hours 43 minutes and 57 seconds. Changing our clocks will not alter that fact. Changing our clocks does, however, alter our frame of reference, and the new frame of reference alters our experience of the daylight.
Have you ever had the experience where you shift your frame of reference on an issue, a problem, or a challenge that you are facing and suddenly a resolution becomes clear that had not been clear before? I remember one time I was helping a family in the midst of conflict and they turned to me and said, “Okay, this is where we need you to be the referee.” I thought for a moment, and responded, “No, I don’t think you need a referee right now, I think you need a coach.” When they asked me what I meant I explained that a referee works with two people or teams that are opponents or adversaries, as in a boxing match or a basketball game. Saying that I thought then needed a coach meant that I saw them not as opponents, but as all being on the same team, and the role of a coach was to help the team play at a higher level. Offering them this shift of reference simply helped to remember what they already knew, but in the midst of their current conflict they had forgotten.
Henry Ford knew something about the importance of our frame of reference when he said, “Wether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you are right.” I remember going to a business conference recently and saying to a colleague as we were going to the meeting, “I can’t imagine anything good is going to happen here today.” Knowing me well, he replied with a smile, “With that attitude, I’m sure that will be true for you.” He was right and I was grateful for the reminder that we do not so much see the world as it is, but rather we tend to see the world as we are. With my colleague’s help I was able to shift my frame of reference and subsequently benefit from some good moments in the conference.
Is there a conflict or challenge in your life that might benefit from shifting your frame of reference? Perhaps you are in conflict with someone in your life and you have frame the conflict as primarily their fault, and therefore nothing is going to change until they make things right. Staying stuck in this frame of reference will most likely not allow you to see your part of the conflict, and more importantly will probably not allow you to see the things you can do right now to begin working toward resolving the conflict.
I wish that changing our frame of reference in the midst of a challenge or a conflict was as easy as changing our clocks. It clearly is not. We may need help from a wise friend or confidant to help us make that shift in perspective. And while changing our clocks does not actually create more light in the day, we do in fact have a saying that often goes along with changing our frame of reference in regards to a challenge or conflict. When we make this shift in our frame of reference, we often say, “Suddenly, I saw the situation in a whole new light.” So as we all reset our clocks this weekend, it might be a good time to think of what else might need some resetting in our lives right now. Here’s to seeing things in a whole new light.