Geoff Miller

Dealing With Failure: Framing

In Tips for Improving Performance on October 27, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Dealing With Failure: Framing

Framing is a concept that I use to teach players how to deal with failure. In my workshops, I include a section on framing, and I use two movie trailers from The Shining to demonstrate the following point:

we decide how we remember our experiences in baseball and in life.

The first clip provides an accurate depiction of the movie, complete with haunting music, dark footage, bloody violence, and general horror.  The second clip is the complete opposite.  It’s a parody of the movie, challenging viewers to think about what it would be like if it had been made as a happy story about a foster father who takes his family up to the mountains to rediscover themselves.  The trailer is sunny, has upbeat music playing, smiles from all the characters, and Jack Nicholson pouring his heart out for his son.

EVERY bit of footage in the happy clip is an authentic clip from The Shining.  Someone pieced together enough bright, feel-good moments to turn the story into something else.

And that’s the challenge that we face in our daily lives…to find the good parts of every story we encounter.

Framing is nothing more than demonstrating a positive attitude.  The optimist has no trouble framing because he is already looking to find the best spin to his stories.  For the pessimist, framing is an exercise that needs to be undertaken so when we fail, we don’t keep playing the horror movie in our heads.  And making that feel-good movie isn’t as easy as just grabbing the good memories and tying a ribbon around them.

For the pessimist who naturally sees the glass half empty, he will need practice at slowly starting to see that there is plenty of water left in the glass and nothing he can do about the water that is gone.

The first instinct for the pessimist is going to be to notice everything that has gone wrong when he is unsuccessful.  So he is going to have to REFRAME in order to make progress until he gets better at building his optimism.

We Frame in the Style That We Know

When I first presented this lesson, players were asked which of the two clips they liked better.  One player said he liked the original version, the horror plot, best.  When asked why, he said:

“Because that’s the version I know.”

This simple statement sums up the tough obstacle that we all have to overcome at some point in our lives…our experiences shape how we look at the world and how we deal with the future.  Your comfort zone isn’t always built around things that are good for you.  And venturing outside your comfort zone can prove to be difficult, even when you know that you would be better off if you did.

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Geoff Miller’s book, Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game — in Baseball and in Life, was released in August, 2012. For more information and free sample chapters, please visit:

For more information, please contact Geoff Miller at miller@thewinningmind.com.

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  1. Great information and a good reminder. What do we do, though, when we do not even realize we are thinking self-defeating thoughts…how do we know the familiar when it operates, often times, at an unconscious level. Any tips on how to be more aware?

  2. Yes, I have a very simple tip on how to be more aware…evaluate your thinking on a regular basis! Self-evaluation is difficult for most people to do accurately and honestly and for that matter, many people don’t evaluate their performances, their internal voice, their confidence levels often enough. Every athlete should practice some kind of review process at least once a week, and this should not happen anywhere near the playing field. By challenging ourselves in our thinking, we should be able to recognize when we aren’t helping ourselves with our thought processes. I’m going to have more information on the site soon about self-evaluation as I believe this is key to being a great athlete.

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