Thinking outside the box simply means that you’re willing to consider different solutions and methods for reaching your desired outcome.
That is to say: You want to get from point A to point B, but you don’t necessarily need or want to take the tried and true route to get there.
warningOn the opposite, thinking “inside the box” refers to a predictable way of evaluating things. When we are thinking inside the box, it can stifle our creativity, delay the completion of tasks or projects, and fail to generate new ideas.
“It is impossible to produce superior performance unless you do something different.” – John Templeton Click To Tweet
You might think it’s a bit cliché. But what most of us are probably implying when we start thinking outside the box, is the act of allowing ourselves to think more creatively and freely.
The idea is to break the status quo to find an innovative solution or create something that will stand out from the crowd.
The market nowadays is highly competitive, an innovative spirit and the disposition to show your audience something different is, without a doubt, a huge leg up. And contrary to what most think, this is not an impossible mission or only for the gifted.
But what does it actually mean to apply that principle to your daily life? What does it mean to be an innovator in terms of confidence, creativity, and productivity?
When you’re struggling to come up with fresh ideas, there are some simple tricks to help you step out of your comfort zone and think in an innovative way.
But how do we encourage ourselves and others to achieve ‘outside-of-the-box’ thinking?
Here are five quick tips that are bound to get your creative juices flowing.
Know How The Box Was Created
The problem is that we’re creatures of habit and most of us prefer the comfort of familiar routines. Thinking outside the box can mean challenging long-held beliefs.
Companies often avoid risks that could have a negative effect on their profits, even when there are plenty of success stories to illustrate that some risks not only pay off, they pay off big.
First, a quick look at how “The Box” was created.
When we were kids, we needed “a protective box”… a parent or teacher there beside us to program “basic life rules and limits” in our minds and bodies so we could safely try and fail, try again and succeed.
Our leaders repeated our “startup programs” over and over, rewarded us when we used them, and punished us when we didn’t. Their rules and limits kept us safe as we learned and grew.
Our caretakers locked some of our programs and never made time to unlock them. And we didn’t update them either. So now some of “their electric fences” are still charged in our bodies and minds!
Today we live in even more highly-charged fences… money fences Click To Tweet
As adults, instead of cookies and lollipops, employers offer financial rewards to incent employees to do what they want them to do, the way they want them to do it, and do it more-better-faster-cheaper.
warningIt’s intensely time and energy consuming and squashes our creativity and innovation so badly that so some of us “risk the zap” and venture out to start our own businesses.
As leaders, we need to learn to recognize when and where we are being limited… and our organization is being limited… and what you can do to optimize our results and theirs.
Follow Your Intuition
Be spontaneous and trust your intuition. Creativity is always available to us if we put ourselves in a position to become aware of it.
Do you ever have that feeling in your gut, like something is very wrong and you just cannot pinpoint it?
Rather than doing things the way we would normally do, sometimes it’s good to break up the routine and just follow what we’re inspired to do. Listening to the quiet voice within can often lead to unexpected but pleasant surprises.
Disrupting your routine gives your mind an opportunity to seek solutions from other directions. Click To Tweet
When your instincts tell you something, you must listen to their advice, and this is especially true when it comes to the creative process.
Your intuition is a guide that will help you figure out where to go with your creative endeavors. It can also be a tool to help you gain confidence in your work and in yourself–the more you listen to your inner voice, the easier it is to hear.
When a rational thinker faces a problem, her mind goes through multiple stages, tapping relevant mental databases and coming up with alternative solutions. Her mind evaluates and refines these scenarios to choose the best possible solution to the problem.
An intuitive thinker, on the other hand, goes with his gut.
Are you in the habit of reading? This is a practise that gets creativity going to a whole new level. Always doing the same leaves your brain unstimulated.
And we’re not just talking about scientific journals or business material. It could be any genre that fits your fancy.
warningIt’s very easy to get stuck in a bubble where we only consume news, literature or media that suits our interests, religious beliefs or values.
“You can’t be normal and expect abnormal returns.” – Jeffrey Pfeffer Click To Tweet
By reading up on businesses that are different to your own, or literary fiction that’s outside of your preferred genre, you may begin to nurture thinking inside a box, but in a different way!
Another good way to generate new ideas is to find out what’s the latest news in other industries. Often, those in other industries or professions may have had unique challenges and it’s always interesting to find out how they dealt and overcame those challenges.
Reading opens doors and leaves you more observant, analytical and intelligent.
Ask For Advice
A common mistake people make is think no one will or can understand what they’re going through. There’s a good chance that no matter what we’re facing, someone has already been through something similar.
One way to facilitate out-of-the-box thinking is to ask someone who is not familiar with the thing for their opinion on it.
Sometimes asking a young child or teenager can provide new, unexpected ideas, which can end up being extremely beneficial to us.
warningThe point isn’t to get a direct answer about the situation; it’s to help you see the problem through a different set of eyes.
These may be things that you haven’t thought about in a long time because you’re just so used to thinking in a particular way.
There’s always something new another person can teach you. Click To Tweet
Networking is also an important tool for those who’d like to think outside the box. It makes you get out there and have conversations, build relationships, and exchange experiences with folks from different areas and backgrounds.
Keep in mind that others can enrich your day to day and help open your eyes to new ideas.
A shift in perspective may help you spot solutions and generate different ideas. One way to shift your perspective is to explore a thing from the other side of the argument.
warningYou may have good reasons for doing or believing a thing in the way that you are, but other people will have reasons for their opposing beliefs as well.
It’s easy to be influenced by misinformation because something sounds good and it panders to our emotions, instead of questioning the validity of that information.
Listening to the imposter inside our heads is a sure-fire way to stifle our creativity. Click To Tweet
Changing up your thinking is exercise for your creative mind. You may not end up changing your opinion at all, but that isn’t the point. Instead, the point is just doing the exercise so you can prepare yourself for creative thinking later.
This is all food for the famished mind. Not only because it will broaden your horizons, but it will help you find new solutions to old, nagging problems.
There is a saying, “If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten.” To generate new ideas, spark new innovation or creativity, and achieve new results, we have to try different things.
The ideas suggested above will help us think differently and get us to where we want to be faster and more effectively.
warningGaining confidence and creativity is no easy feat, especially in a world that is so hyper-focused on social media and celebrity culture. Instead of giving in to the norm and going with the will of the crowd, think outside the box.
The ability to think outside the box can be an asset to you as an individual or as a business.
When you have the power to be authentically you and to bring the world your new and interesting ideas using these tools, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world.
Perhaps one of the most profound effects of thinking outside the box is that it will help you stay adaptable. Your mind won’t be closed off to new ideas or solutions or situations, and therefore you’ll be better able to navigate the ever changing landscape of business.
Don’t be afraid to be different, because it can separate you from competitors and help you stand out in a good way.
If you enjoyed the article or have any comments, recommendations, or tips for improvement please do comment below.
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.
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