Thinking Out-Of-The-Box- What You Need to know
Let’s start out of the box…I’ll be turning 55 this Thursday and issue #55 is coming out on the same day, I love things like that…it was never planned…honest!
So I give you all a happy birthday gift from me because I think that instead of receiving gifts on one’s birthday, after a certain age one ought to give out gifts as mark of thankfulness to the many gifts one has received by living and the special people who share one’s life…plus it’s different and it just feels right.
So here we go and hope you enjoy it.
This is a challenging issue to many of us, as we seem, unbeknownst to us, to fall into the trap of thinking inside the box, which make us feel not free, tied down and unable to change . The reason for that is that thinking in the box becomes an attitude, which is difficult to spot and change.
We then, naturally, seek for relief, to learn to think out of the box, hoping that there is a quick formula we can learn, that can relieve us from the uncomfortable feeling of “same old, same old”.
Well, it’s not quite like that...
To think out of the box is not a quick fix, it’s not a short term solution, it’s a long term life strategy that has in it an inspiration, belief and endless attempts to back off mediocrity. You know what mediocrity is, don’t you? Well, mediocrity is a hiding place, a dark cave, where personal excellence and the light of the future cannot reach…and who wants to be there…
If you wish to escape mediocrity and instead reach for your personal genius and excellence, it is, firstly, essential to understand the nature of the box, and to know that there is a “ Mother box” and other related little boxes that have formed up as well.
What is the Box?
One of the ways to understand it is through the term “conformity thinking”. We all like to think that we are special, unique individuals, and we are, by potential, but not if we think and exhibit the same attitudes in the way everyone expects of us, or is typical to our age group, or gender, or life status, because these can all be boxes of conformity & commonality. To think in the box is to think in a way that the masses agree upon and seldom challenge. A typical statement that you can hear when the box is present, when a person wants to entrench in their current way of thinking is “it’s natural to think like that, everyone thinks so”. I travel quite a bit and have the opportunity to experience the way of thinking in different cultures, which demonstrated to me that there are cultural boxes of thinking as well as personal. There is the box of arrogance, there is the box of “don’t rise too high or you get chopped down” there is the box of “we are better than every one” and the box of “don’t show too much emotions because that is a low class” and on and on.
Very often the personal boxes become influenced by the local culture.
How to identify a box?
If we thought something in the same way for a long time we start to develop an attitude. We don’t even need to try, it happens upon us. Let’s take a simple example. If you live in the U.S you are probably asked 20 times a day (at least), “How are you?” And you probably always say, “Fine, thank you, how are you?” (Even if you don’t feel well and you couldn’t care less how the other person feels)- “What’s the big deal?” you might ask. Well it’s not a big deal but it’s a box, where a “Small Deal” that goes unchallenged becomes a “Big Deal”. It’s a box of having automatic response, of usually having no meaning behind the words, a box of shallow nicety – ok, still not a big deal- but wait a second, what about the attitude that sneaks upon you and that is the attitude of not meaning what you say, which leads to not being true to yourself and that further escalates to not standing behind what you say, to lack of self-respect, discounting yourself and others, talking behind other people’s backs and on and on, because these boxes are all related.
As has been mentioned, there are many, many such boxes. To get to know which ones you fall into listen to what you do or say, without being involved, as if you were an outsider. Ask yourself if there is anything new, from day to day, from week to week, from month to month, from year to year, in your manners, tone of voice, body language, emphasis, content, ideas, beliefs, attitude, what makes you angry, what makes you happy, whatever.
Here are some more examples of boxes; Consider the cynical person; their self elected profession is to doubt and belittle everything they don’t agree with. They probably don’t want to be that way but they can’t help it- by “practicing” cynicism often, they have gradually created a box which now controls them and limits their thinking to that aspect only. Then there is the box of “judging that which you don’t understand” and the box of “wanting to understand it quick, because I just don’t have time” This box, the “bottom line” box, is particularly dangerous because it denies real value, as it often expects profound matters to be summarized by a meaningless formula which is uttered quickly.
I have taught a substantial amount of Creative Thinking seminars to many professionals around the world- Bright and smart people who genuinely wanted to learn to think out of the box because they saw that they were doing the same mistakes over and over again, while expecting different results (Einstein’s definition of insanity…). In each and every seminar it became apparent for people that if they wanted to think out of the box they needed to have it as part of their life, as a way of life, because one can’t just “pull it out of a hat” when the chips are down.
Understand that if a person has not trained their mind to think creatively, to think different, to listen…with respect, (listening politely is a box) to allow their mind to explore new options, to release themselves from rigid past views, to not expect their experience of the past solely determine their future…then it just won’t happen to them when they need it.
Yes, a seminar with me will go a long way to start you off with many tools and ideas and great deal of inspiration ( and I do recommend it), but ultimately it is really up to you to make adjustments, small continuous changes in your thinking and regular and increasing space for newness in your every day life.
Thinking out of the box is not a technique just to be learned, it is a permanent state of mind that needs to be practiced, maintained and advanced.
What you know got you so far, it is what you don’t know that hides your next success, the next step you need to take to make your life absolutely brilliant.
It is not in what you know, it is in what you don’t know…and what you don’t know is for you Out-Of-The Box.
5 steps to think-out-of-the-box
One- It starts with acquiring new knowledge about everything, not discounting anything, even if it is not your forte. Develop a hunger and curiosity for new knowledge wherever you can find it. Read, research and, most importantly, become a good listener.
Two- It continues by learning to reason things out, thoroughly and not just reasons you are used to. Find the reasons for everything you want to do, and not just one, as many as you can find, “from the sublime to the ridiculous”
Three- It moves on to an increased consciousness about the consequences of your decisions, and I mean long term as well as short term, and at least 3 levels in each. (You can learn this in my Decision Making seminars and upcoming webinars)
Four- It embraces positivism as a way of life, while learning to see the good in everything. Becoming an agency of warmth and encouragement. The challenge is to make others better than you! You are hereby challenged to do just that. (Please know that negativism is a huge destructive box that is extremely crowded with millions of people who all think that They Are Right…and who see very little of the big picture…that’s one of the main reason why there are so many conflicts in the world…)
Five- It further develops to always trying new things, having fresh ideas and to do that you need to stop judging yourself and everybody else…
I am going to write to you a strange thing, that will probably go against all your current logic, but…don’t judge it…think about it, and if you have questions write to me.
Develop “conscious uncertainty”!
An “out-of-the-box” par-excellence term!
Yes, I am aware, I am telling you here to go opposite to what most every one out there tells you- Yes, become uncertain, keep thinking that you don’t know and ask a lot of questions without worrying that you sound stupid. This way you will always start fresh and you will come to know a great deal. Much more than those who think they know!
Thinking-out-of-the-box is an ongoing quest that requires courage and willingness to dare to be different, as an attitude, and to rediscover that special sense of being truly free inside, as a child is.
Getting out of mental prison has many untold advantages. I tell you…you have no idea how successful you can really be…there is a box in you that won’t let you see.
The Thinking Coach
P.S If I were to choose one box to escape, before any other, it would be the box of negativism. Contrary to popular belief being negative is not practical at all!