Mark Blasini


The 3 frames


Contrary to popular belief, we are all future-oriented. We are all concerned about, wrestling with, excited for the possibilities of what can or will happen.

However, how we orient ourselves towards the future is framed by our preferences to look at either the past, present, or future. I'll describe each.

  1. Past framer. The past framer contextualizes the future in terms of what has happened to him in the past, typically as a child. If this person was abused as a child, he will tend to see the future as abusive. Or if the person had a really formative experience, he will tend to look to the future as a way to get back to that experience. For example, if this person spent some time in a foreign country and had a great experience, he'll tend to look to the future as a way to return to that experience.
  2. Present framer. This person frames the future as a continuation of how things are now. If things are going good now, then she'll think things are going to be good. If things turn bad, then she'll think things are going to continue to be bad.
  3. Future framer. This person frames the future in terms of what's possible. This person is always excited about the future because the future always holds a lot of potential - potential for change, for improvement, for innovation.

One frame is not better than any other, and there have been successful people who hold each frame. For example, Warren Buffett, probably the world's most successful investor, is someone who I would characterize holds the past frame. He looks at the past operating history of a business to give him a good perspective on its future performance.

Elon Musk, on the other hand, is someone who I would say holds the future frame. He is excited by the future of technology and our abilities to achieve the impossible.

An example of someone who holds the present frame would be successful music artists or producers, like Taylor Swift, Jay Z, Beyonce, etc. These are people who understand the current trends and can adapt to them to create a popular style.

We will express all three tendencies, but one framing mode tends to dominate. Which one are you?