Picture Frame


It had been weeks in the making. There were meetings to plan and prepare for the event. Numerous trips to the store to ensure that everything was perfect. Hours of grooming and getting ready. An hour journey to the location.

Family pictures have become a major occasion!  What happened to the days of throwing on matching sweaters and heading down to Olan Mills or JC Penny’s? In and out in 30 minutes. 

When my wife let me know that we would be hiring a professional photographer to do a custom family photo shoot I had no idea what we were getting into. There were meetings ahead of time with the photographer to talk through the session. What did we want to capture? What story did we want our session to tell?  We surveyed locations looking for the perfect backdrop for our photos. We made several trips to the mall buying and returning clothes for all nine of us. We needed outfits that told the story of our individual personalities, yet showed our cohesion as a whole.

The session took about 3 hours, then a week later we met with the photographer again for a preview and editing session. This took another 2 hours. At the end of the two hours we had placed our order for prints and I handed over the credit card. 

A few weeks later when the package arrived at our doorstep my wife was filled with excitement and anticipation. She anxiously opened the brown box, removed a nicer box wrapped in ribbon. Lifting the lid revealing tissue paper that was masking the treasure inside.  My wife’s eyes began to fill with tears as she pulled out and laid on the kitchen table a 20x30 picture of our family. 

That was it. One picture. One flimsy piece of paper. We had put an enormous investment of time, energy and resources into this picture. My wife could sense my disappointment, she held up the flimsy picture and turned to me. “Years from now,” she said, “this picture will tell the story of our family.”  

She was right. This image did capture the quintessence of our family. It was perfect…almost.

That picture told the story of our family. Who we were in this chapter of life. But for all of the time and money, all of the energy and investment that it took to capture that image, right now it was just a flimsy piece of paper. We could take that piece of paper and stick it on our refrigerator with a magnet, or staple it to a wall. But if we really wanted to let that picture tell the story of our family to everyone who comes in the door of our home it needed structure. If we wanted that investment into our families story to stand the test of time, it needed stability. It needed to be framed.

Every organization has a story, a picture. And we invest time, money and energy into discovering and developing the story of our organization. Often we call this story our “Mission Statement.”  Unfortunately for many organizations we take that picture and metaphorically staple it to the wall.

Join us for the ReFrame Conference on November 6-8, 2019 in Kingsport, Tennessee. We will help you discover how to take the picture of your organization and give it structure and stability, ensuring longevity. You will learn how to frame your story so that it is displayed in a way that draws the attention of everyone who sees it. I hope to see you in Kingsport this November, but right now, I have to go buy a picture frame!

Tony Marr is has a Master of Arts in Storytelling and has spent the past 20 years helping organizations and their leaders uncover, craft, and communicate their personal and corporate story. At ReFrame Conference, he will be leading a pre-conference workshop, "Your Greatest Resource: Your Story," giving a plenary speech, "The Power of Story," and offering a break-out session, "Their Story." Learn more.