Out of the Box Thinking

A few years back it became the style to have a catch phrase for everything. ‘Out of the box thinking’ became one of the most notorious of the bunch. It was supposed to mean think uniquely, think on your own. Of course no one caught on to thinking on your own since they were too busy trying to think what the boss wanted them to think. Then the powers that be told us to do some out of the box thinking and they were on to something.

We were coming out of the box all over the place. Huge corporations held ‘Out of the Box Thinking’ meetings. They had Box Seminars where they came up with even bigger catch phrases that were all supposed to activate the think button in the back of our brains.

The truth was most people didn’t realize they were ever in a box in the first place, some were quite content to stay in one, and the rest of us were trying to figure out what a box had to do with anything.

The reason the catch phrase caught on so well was because it conjured up an image. Everyone is familiar with a box, no guess work there. So out of the box thinking meant you had to physically step out of said box and you were in business. People were told to visualize themselves inside a box then step boldly out of it and a whole new way of thinking would happen. What they really did was give their creative people permission to be creative. They made it into an image and stuck it out where everyone could see it.

Images are powerful things. They become even more powerful if you can give them substance.

An exercise in out of the box thinking

Get yourself a box and stand in it, just the way you are, the way you think now, the way you look at the world now. Let a few minutes pass. Then take a deep breath and step out of the box leaving all your restraints and constricting ideals behind. Open yourself to a whole new way of seeing, feeling, tasting and sensing the world. You’re free, you are out of the box. You did it. Nothing is beyond your reach.

You can not tell me that if you did this exercise that it didn’t have some kind of impact on you. Most of you didn’t get up the gumption to do it in the first place, especially in front of anybody, which I didn’t mention. Most of you thought “That is dumb. I’m not getting in and out of some idiot box.”

But that was the point.

So many of our ideas are squashed because we think they’re stupid, because we think others will think they are stupid and conclude we are stupid. And we fear looking stupid.

Out of the box thinking is scary because we are steering away from the norm, putting ourselves in a position for possible ridicule.

Sure, some ideas are not the smartest and many of them are so much chaff. Just because you thought of it doesn’t mean you have to use it. But we have to practice letting even the stupid ideas take form. If you try to squash what you think is dumb you repress your natural ability to imagine freely and you miss out on the most important part of imagining. You’ll miss the part that is unique and fresh. You’ll miss the part that will make you stand out. You’ll miss the part that comes from the deepest portion of your inner self.

You’ll miss the best part. You. The real, spontaneous, unique, you.

At any given time no one knows what you’re thinking and that tiny seemingly stupid spark is likely the one to grow into something big if it’s given the chance. Let your ideas flow as they will with no restraints. Take note of all of them. You can sift through them later, right now practice letting them happen. Let the little guys bounce around and have some fun.

Go ahead, step out of the box. No one’s looking. The best part is once you let yourself go, out of the box thinking is the most fun thinking you’ll ever do.