“Think outside of the box?” We’ve all heard that statement right? What’s so exciting about what’s inside that box anyway?

I’ll agree that thinking outside the box requires that we’re limited to a cardboard box in the first place.

We’re all trying our best to be innovative and creative, but how do we do that in a world that has boxed us in?

We were raised to be constrained and controlled. For example, our elementary teachers taught us to color inside the lines. Our college professors taught us to the test, rather than teaching us to challenge the test. Our bosses squash our ideas in those bi-annual “brainstorming sessions,” because they don’t have the time or the where-with-all to understand how we’re thinking—we’re operating as mindless slaves.

So, let’s drag ourselves out of the box kicking and screaming. Let’s challenge everything and not wait for someone to show us the way. We have to push ourselves to be assertive and breed the ideas of the future.

Think about Dr. Suess’ Oh the Places You’ll Go.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

This is what you should consider:

Crush the Box

Although the concept of the box is necessary to understand, the idea that you can move beyond it is much more important. And the frustration of not being able to push the envelope is exponential. So why not challenge the norm? Refold or redesign the box. Force yourself to avoid thoughts that hold us back and foster fear and failure. Think about this as having the freedom to refocus and to find inspiration from your career and future.

Read More

We read about 2-5 online, print, journal articles, or blogs per week. Is that enough? Well, when you think about motivating yourself or your people, it’s probably not. If you’re devoting your time to reading industry journal articles, forget about it, you’re reading about history. You need to read broadly, move out of your industry, look at different companies and technologies to create something new. Look at what’s on the horizon, rather than looking at what’s already in the marketplace. Reading, outside your comfort zone, will give you the impetus to develop new, abstract notions, which may lead you to great new horizons.

Work Backwards

Writing the first sentence, of anything, is the hardest thing to do. You have to figure out how to change the pattern of your thinking. Start at the end product, and then move forward from there. You might find that the solutions to the problems are easier to develop first, than thinking about the nonsense that you need to fix.

Ask a Kid for Advice

My 11-year-old boy gives me great ideas about everything. The way I dress, the way I negotiate with my 6 year old, the way I think about the world. You name it and he has a solution. A child’s mind is unobstructed by the minutia that bogs us down. They are real and authentic. I needed a product development idea just the other day and he told me, “ why don’t you ask kids like me—we’re the ones that are going to buy it anyway.” Genius. From the mouth of babes.

When it comes down to it, we’re the ones that can manipulate the status quo. Thinking outside of the box isn’t like hitting a switch that allows a new idea to just turn on. It’s really about the will and desire to think differently. And remember that desire can result in progression.