THE gambling king of Macau, Mr Stanley Ho, owns a chain of international casinos. According to Forbes, he ranks 104th among the world's richest men.

He made his fortune from the Chinese passion for the game of chance. He once said: "When times are bad, the Chinese gamble. The odd thing is when times are good, the Chinese also gamble - so I win both ways."

This is a perfect example of how reframing - creative thinking - propelled Ho to become richest man in Macau.


Frames are part of the filters through which you view events in life. Frames determine your perception of things. As you are exposed to millions of bits of information daily, your brain gives them meaning and categorises them.

To create and find new solutions, you have to reframe. This is in line with what Albert Einstein once said: "The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them."


Framing is similar to thinking inside the box. No matter how big or colourful the box is, it is still thinking within the same box. However, if you reframe, you change the box.

To reframe is to change the terms of reference and the way you view things, people and events. By reframing, you derive new meaning.

If a new meaning is formed, it changes the way you think, feel and act. Reframing requires more attitude than skill. You can ask yourself: "What other meaning can this give?" or "What does it mean?".

In my first book, I Once Wore Diapers, the key message is reframing failure as "delayed success".

Reframing can be applied to all types of situations. Although it is a mental process, it can bring immediate change to the way you act. It may be difficult to change the way others behave, but you can certainly change the way you act. Reframing restructures your experiences and gives you more options.

You can reframe by looking at the context and content differently.

Look for alternatives

If you tell bizarre tales in your office meeting, you will be considered a weirdo. But those same stories could be fabulous content for a book on fiction. Or, boring your audience in a seminar makes you look bad, but it is brilliant at getting rid of unwelcome guests.

In context reframing, you can change the time or place. This involves finding another situation where the inappropriate behaviour becomes appropriate.

For example, losing your temper in the office is unprofessional, but it is excusable if your subordinates keep repeating the same mistake.

Think of different contexts in which people will respond differently to the same behaviour. Ask yourself in what situations would this be useful.

Inject new meaning

In content reframing, you can give another meaning to a situation by asking "what else could this mean?"

High interest rates are ideal for lenders but bad for borrowers. Traffic jams cause motorists to fume, but politicians reframe it as an indicator of a high standard of living. As Major General Oliver P Smith famously put it: "We are not retreating! We are just attacking in a different direction!"

You frequently blame external factors for your problems. However, the real cause lies within you and your perceptions. Ask yourself what you can add to bring about a different meaning or change a person's response to a situation.

Reframing helps you to break free from your old mindset. It expands the horizon of your thinking, allowing you to think laterally. Successful executives reframe all the time. Where ordinary people see problems, you can reframe them as opportunities.