We have all heard of this fancy, sophisticated slogan, “Out of the box thinking.” What does it actually mean? Does it mean to think something totally outrageous—something which hasn’t been thought of by anyone on this planet? Do we need to think out of the box just for the heck of it? Is the ‘out of the box thinking’ just a new fad or hip thing—or is there something more going on here than it meets the eye?
Well, let’s find out.
For most of our lives, we have, consciously or unconsciously, set certain kinds of limits or boundaries, beyond which we think we can’t go or are above our paycheck level. These boundaries are both physical and mental. In reality, we don’t really have any limitations. Whatever the mind can perceive, the body can do. And sometimes when we break our own limits, intentionally or unintentionally, we feel like we are on cloud seven. That’s how you grow out of the tiny little box you have stuffed yourself in. You thought you were just a teensy droplet in the ocean, only to realize later in life that the whole ocean is made of you.
There literally are infinite possibilities for each and every one of us. I can’t even verbally express the kinds of stunts you can pull off in life, only if you break those boundaries you have so ardently set or what society has so dearly set for you. That’s the real essence of out-of-the-box thinking.
The kind of thinking that frees you, liberates you, unshackles you, emancipates you, widens your potential, expands your horizon; instead of limiting, confining, and squeezing you in a box.
What is the “Box”?
The box here is kind of a mental prison you put yourselves in, consciously or unconsciously. The uncanny thing about this prison is that, though there are no real walls or real locks, it feels as genuine as it gets. But that’s the best part about it too. Since there are no real walls or locks, one can get out of this box just as easily as one got in. All it takes is one thought to unfetter you from the prison.
Don’t ever underestimate your potential, your skills, your talents, your abilities. I will repeat never underestimate yourself. Just imagine, if everyone remained in their tiny little fancy boxes they created for themselves, then who would have changed the world?
The Wright brothers thought outside the box and gave us what we call the airplane, Einstein thought outside the box and fancied the whole world with his theory of relativity, Alexander Graham Bell thought outside the box that kept us all hooked to the phone, Elon Musk is thinking outside the box every day, pushing his boundaries every second to make our species interplanetary. These marvelous people along with so many others, thought outside the box to revolutionize the entire world because that’s what it takes.
I will remind you again, thinking outside of the box doesn’t imply thinking of a crazy-ass idea to impress others with your fancy imagination. The first step of thinking outside the box actually implies pushing your own limits and boundaries and never underestimating the magic you can unfurl to make the whole world go bananas.
Could Steve Jobs have thought of creating Apple if he underestimated himself and had second thoughts about his ability?
When you think outside the box, you first push your own extremities, and that itself inspires the whole world to push their own peripheries. You become an example—a ray of hope—a knight in the shining armor—for people you don’t even know. You become the kind of guy who creates a new normal by making the abnormal normal, setting a new benchmark by making the impossible possible, and paving a new way for generations to come.
And this is the most critical aspect of this game of life. If you stop growing, if you stop pushing your thresholds, then you are as good as dead. To live is to grow. That should be your attitude. You need to keep asking yourselves, “What more can I do?”, “How can I be better at this?” and so on, without being self-absorbed of your past achievements.
Most people’s heads are so far up their asses just because they are not ready to let go of something great they did 5yrs ago. They keep on throwing the list of their achievements to the people and refuse to grow and learn in the present. Identifying yourself with your past achievements is a stupid plot to indulge in. This will make you your own biggest obstacle or hindrance along the way. You don’t wanna be this kind of a person. The past is dead, it’s no more. Grow out of it. If you are stuck to it, then you are again not thinking outside the box.
The WORLD will Hate you for being Different
Whenever you think about doing something different, your first thought would be, “Uhh why can’t I just do it the normal way?”, or “Why make an ass of myself by doing something different?” or something in the same vicinity. This type of conditioning has been collaboratively done by society. Somewhere deep down within us, we try to be within the limits that society created for us.
The world will always want you to fit in—to behave the way they deem to be ‘normal’. There will be a hundred people ready to pull you down, ridicule you, discourage you whenever you try to think outside the box and do something that doesn’t fit their boxed thinking.
Society wants us to do what the whole world is doing, and not what we want or love to do. It’s only when a handful of people do something crazy—listen to their heart—think outside the box—that they make the impossible possible, the abnormal normal, and give this world a new way to think and act on.
Once you become confident even about your crazy ideas and go right ahead—full-throttle into making those ideas a reality, that’s when you open a completely new dimension for this world to look into.
Think Outside the Box to Be Successful
Let’s face it. There is no so-called ‘blueprint’ or full-proof plan to become successful. Neither there is a set formula or recipe that you can apply to let you taste success just like that. Now, even though I might have written two full-fledged articles on becoming successful, at the heart of it, they pretty much just tell about the basic psyche which is kind of a prerequisite to doing something great.
If you are copying your ideals, your heroes, the people you look up to; then you are not really learning from them. They got where they are by thinking outside the box—by coming up with something that was very much connected with their lives—not simply by just aping someone else.
Even your passion, dedication, and perseverance will fall short if you are working on a mundane or trivial idea—ultimately because you never bothered to think outside the box. Sometimes even conjuring a positive attitude isn’t enough. Surely, keeping a negative mindset all the time isn’t gonna lead you anywhere, but being all positive and fluffy about everything all the time isn’t necessarily the answer you are looking for either.
If someone tells you that you can’t do such and such thing for x,y,z reasons, then our boxed mind will immediately label it as a negative thing and you will either get totally morose about it, or you won’t give a damn about it. On the other hand, if someone comes and keep on telling you that ‘you are doing it right’, ‘you are gonna make it no matter what’; then at times we become a bit self-conceited and refuse to analyze the scenario properly—ultimately because the ‘positive thing’ clouded our judgment.
The out of the box thinking involves understanding the fact that at the end of the day, both of them are ultimately pieces of information—there’s no right or wrong, positive or negative about it. It’s we who put a label on them.
When you apply this type of thinking, you become realistic, and the kind of guy who gets the job done. Now, you can properly figure out why the person is saying that you can’t do it. Maybe he has experienced it before and has gone through the whole process. So, what you were touting to be ‘negative’, can be perhaps the biggest reason for your success. And the guy, who was talking about rainbows and sunshine, maybe was just fooling you around and telling you what you wanted to hear.
That’s the real intelligence—the advantage of out-of-the-box thinking, instead of succumbing to the way the world wants us to think. Seeing things as it is, is perhaps the homerun you are looking for and ‘out of the box thinking’ is the bat that will help you out.
Make Every Problem An Adventure
Use the out of the box thinking to stop looking at every problem as a problem, instead perceive it as an adventure. Come to think of it, every adventure is just a fancy name for a ‘problem.’ We love adventures. We detest problems. Adventure sounds fun, thrill, exciting, an adrenaline-pumped ride; while problem sounds like stress, fear, anxiety, tension, and a troubled ride.
All we have to do is disguise the problem and make it look like an adventure because essentially they both are kind of the same at the root level.
While playing any kind of adventure sport, we love to fall down and get up again, because it is fun; but what we don’t understand, thanks to our limited thinking, is that we can have the same experience with our day-to-day life problems too.
Figuring out a solution to the task you failed in is itself a hell of an adventure. All it takes is a slight change in our thinking, or perhaps the out-of-the-box kind of thinking to help us bridge the gap. If you could really make this leap in your thinking process, and not just because I am saying so but genuinely, then no problem will be big enough to overwhelm or overpower you.
There is no growth without problems. And there isn’t a better way to grow when you perceive your problems as an adventure. Problems or hardships are your access gates to excellence. Don’t run away from them, embrace them with open arms. A person who knows how to make his problems a fun-filled adventure knows how to learn anything. And the guy who can learn anything can do anything. The one who can do anything can ultimately get everything he desires.
Think Outside the Box to Learn
We all must have come across this jargon, “Learn from Everyone, Follow Noone.” Too often I have seen people not able to grasp the actual meaning of this quote because of their conventional and orthodox thinking.
Some people go on a rampage, meaninglessly doing things without any preceding logic, refusing to learn from anyone else, making an ass of themselves in their own eyes, just because they read “Follow no one.” While some, on the other hand, take no authority or responsibility for their own life, become so gullible that they always do what the world tells them to do, and are scared shitless to make their own path.
Out-of-the-box thinking involves breaking the old patterns and looking at the situation in an unbiased way. One needs to converge the two extreme paths and then walk on the resultant of the two vectors.
The first step is to genuinely learn from everyone. And everyone means everyone—from the good to the bad, from the successful to the failures, from a child to a senile person. Sometimes a bad event, a rude person, and an unsuccessful company can teach you a lot more than all the goodies combined. They teach you what not to do if you don’t wanna be like them.
If you can practice this, then your mind will always be alert and will be active 24*7, and laziness will be tossed out the window. You will be learning something or the other all the time. So many people are mentally dead. You should learn from them too, that under no circumstances you will let laziness overpower your intellect. And once you learn from everyone then you need to take the final call, that should be your own.
Remember, you are a human first, who can do anything. You weren’t born to follow the masses, so come out of the mob mentality and listen to what your heart has to say. Develop something unique in yourself, and don’t be afraid of going against the world if need be. Believe, and listen to your heart, and your mind will think outside the box to shake up the status quo and bring out the best of the best.
Thinking outside the box will make you realize that there actually ain’t no box in the first place.