Step out. Step out right now!
“Thinking outside of the box” is a phrase that was made popular largely by management professionals. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, this catchphrase was widely used throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s in the business environment, especially by the highly-paid management consultants.
Admittedly, I had this ‘signage’ as the screen-saver on my laptop. However, after listening to the term being bandied, I paused to really examine its meaning and accuracy.
Step Out of The Box
My early conclusion was that there is nothing ‘novel’ about “thinking outside of the box.” – not in the ’70s, 80’s or even now.
Our history books teach us that the Spaniard, Christopher Columbus, ‘discovered’ parts of the New World in 1492. He used limited and very unconventional, to his time, navigational ideas and skills to chart his course. Columbus employed what management consultants centuries later tout as “out of the box thinking” to set sail. Despite the ridicule of many, he did not allow that to limit his capabilities or define his destiny.
As far as we know, Columbus knew of no “box.”
Get Rid of The Box
Today, those subscribing to a box concept feel they require superb leadership, be extremely innovative and have excellent problem-solving skills to succeed. While these things are important, my thoughts on this led me to Deepak Chopra’s provocative quote:
“Instead of thinking outside of the box, get rid of the box.”
We meet situations in our daily lives that call for use of adjustments to conventional rules and norms. Sometimes, when you are losing at a game, you have to stop playing by those conventional rules and switch things up to change the outcome. In other words, step out of the box!
The thing about thinking out of the box is you have to first know that there is a box. One of my talents lies in finding and defining it, then jumping out of it to the solutions. To my mind, the ‘box’ is a composite of all the rules and structures we are given to work with or live by.
There Are No Boxes
Those who do not see a box, like Columbus, behave very differently. What we are called to do, as he did, is to use what we were born within the first place – our imagination!
Christopher Columbus, my pick for the original “Thinking Out of the Box” practitioner, used his imagination and engaged his creativity to make history.
“Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you anywhere.” Albert Einstein
In hindsight, I now wonder why someone needed to ask me to think outside of the box? Was my imaging faculty asleep?
Imagination is the most powerful tool that all humans possess. We do not need to be told to think outside of the box. Or even invited to step out of one.
Yes, at times we will need a little nudge here and a kick there to get our creativity in motion. We are not always at the top of the creativity mountain as our minds do not have the capacity to necessarily come up with great ideas one after the other. Sometimes, it requires stepping away from the situation and the idea will come to us when least expected.
Use Your Imagination!
Our imagination is never lost. Contained or boxed maybe but always retrievable. What if there were no limitations or constraints in the first place? If we had the freedom to think creatively, then there would have been no need for millionaire management consultants!
If our children are encouraged to use their imagination rather than our suffocating their creativity, we can look forward to more thinking citizens around the world, greater tolerance among diverse communities and more vibrant industries and eco-friendly economies.
It seems that what is needed more than ever then is a return to Imagining! Would you agree?
Do imagine and set sail today!