We hear the saying “think outside the box” a lot, but what does it actually mean?
People who don’t have limited thinking skills are described as innovators, a positive characteristic in life and business. Going with the flow is trouble-free and safe, but leaders defy trends rather than following them.
We’ve all attended meetings when the team was told to “think beyond the box.” We are creatures of habit, and we like routines. We like stability.
If you don’t know by now, my slogan actually goes one step beyond this. I believe that we should destroy the box. In fact, I recently had the phrase “Destroy the Box” trademarked in conjunction with educational courses.
We challenge long-held ideas by thinking outside the box. It’s about not nodding but raising an eyebrow when someone says, “We should do things this specific way.”
Companies frequently avoid taking risks that might harm their profitability, even though numerous examples demonstrate that some risks not only pay off but pay handsomely.
The board of directors of the business he created dismissed Steve Jobs. Jobs became the CEO of Apple when Apple purchased the NeXT operating system his team developed, and the company’s stock surged 9,000% under his leadership.
Risks are necessary for personal and business progress, despite the possibility of failure and rejection. Although we are urged to think outside the box (or better yet, destroy the box!) we are not instructed on how to do it.
Ways To Think Outside The Box
If you’ve hit a roadblock and are having trouble coming up with ideas, there are a few easy methods that might help you go out of your comfort zone and think creatively.
1. Simplify the concepts.
If you feel that your situation is too difficult for a young person to comprehend, spend some time figuring out how to streamline it.
“If you can’t make a 6-year-old understand it, then you don’t truly understand it,” said Richard Feynman, the late Nobel Laureate in physics. The act of describing a complicated subject in simple terms can sometimes result in a creative approach.
Related Reading: How to start something new – Check Them out Here
2. Ask a kid for advice.
Children are natural innovators because of their strong imaginations. We are stuck because we’re bound by the rules that we follow.
If you ask a child what they would do in your situation, you might be surprised that they can offer some incredible insight that could lead to doable solutions.
3. Keep asking why.
The most common kind of resistance we encounter—whether from management, coworkers, or our own minds—is summed up in a single phrase: “This is the way things are.”
We’re programmed to resist change, especially when what we’ve been doing has been working quite well, if not brilliantly. When a habit becomes a hurdle, “why” becomes a battering ram. “But why is this the way we’ve always done things?” might uncover faults and open the door to new ideas.
4. Ask yourself how you would go about it if you were to start over.
Routine is the enemy of creative thought. We sometimes find it challenging to break free from our old habits. Imagining a blank slate might help you shift your viewpoint and think creatively.
5. Educate yourself.
Learning something new can provide you with a fresh perspective on things you already know how to accomplish.
You can take a paid course or read a couple of helpful books to jumpstart some fresh ideas in your brain.
6. Do some brain training.
Psychology Today offers a few unusual activities to help you get your brain unstuck when you’re attempting to think beyond the box.
For starters, you can alphabetize the letters of a word. Take any word (maybe one you’ve read or made up) and arrange the letters alphabetically. T-O-W-E-L would then become E-L-O-T-W.
The fact that you’re forced to utilize all of the information—all of the letters—and completely reorganize it in your head is what makes these mental gymnastics so beneficial to your brain.
Try it three times a week for five minutes each time. As you gain experience, increase the number of letters in the words you’re alphabetizing.
Here are some other exercises so you can flex those brain muscles every once in a while:
- Keep adding a series of one-digit numbers in your head. Don’t use a pen and paper. If you find that the exercise is getting too easy, switch to two-digit numbers.
- Avoid the letter E. Ask your friends to talk about things that don’t start with the letter E, which is the most often used vowel in the English language. It’s excellent work that will inspire you to think in new ways.
7. Doodle away.
No, you don’t even need natural drawing abilities! Grab any tools you have (like pens and markers) and tap into a new area of your brain. This exercise can liberate your ideas.
I sleep with a notepad beside my bed and always have scrap paper close by. Thoughts leave as quickly as they come. My best ideas are these drifting thoughts.
8. Scribble away.
Picking a topic, setting a timer for a limited period of time, and writing as quickly as you can without stopping to edit are known as freewriting. My technical term for this is a ‘brain dump’. I literally dump my brain onto a sheet of paper (or a google doc if working as a team) and let others share as well.
It can flow better if you do it on paper rather than on the computer. The timer puts pressure on you to keep writing, driving your brain to think creatively rather than rationally.
9. Go for a walk.
According to a Stanford research paper, walking allows you to be more creative both during and after the stroll. Please give it a go! Sidenote: you can even get paid for walking – who knew?
10. Create a mindmap.
Come up with a single word or sentence. Make a ring around it. Draw a branch and a word or phrase that is linked to it. Then make a note of it. Repeat. The exercise helps people come up with new ideas.
You’d essentially be creating an actual map of your mind! Once you get used to this practice, you can apply it to the current problem you’re facing. I use this method for keyword research, as well as topic clusters for my ‘Destroy the Box’ brand on YouTube.
You’ll never know. Maybe the solution is a mere two or three steps away from your initial thought.
The Benefits of Thinking Outside The Box
Questioning things is beneficial.
There would never be any inventions or progress in the world if everyone merely accepted things as they are. If Thomas Edison had shrugged and decided that gas lights were good enough, light bulbs and the energy to power them might never have been invented. The world might have been a very dark place if he hadn’t thought outside the box.
We can’t expect things to change for the better if we believe things are immutable. You’ll be continuously contemplating ways to enhance an experience, product, or service if you look outside the box and question the status quo.
You gain better perspectives.
If you’re closed-minded, the world seems limited. Thinking beyond the box can broaden your horizons and give you a new perspective on the events occurring in your professional life (and in life).
You’ll be more open to a range of various points of view and potential solutions if you’re prepared to examine other points of view and methods of doing things.
A broader viewpoint can help you be more open to new ideas so that a narrow worldview won’t restrict you. The options are unlimited when you’re open to limitless possibilities!
Creative thinking makes you stand out.
If you think you were born to stand out, why be a face in the crowd? You are essentially enabling yourself to think in new ways when approaching your business and profession from an outside-the-box perspective.
The capacity to think beyond the box may be beneficial to you as a person or a company. Professional leaders and pioneering businesses are fully aware of this.
What am I trying to say? Be unique. It will set you apart from your rivals and help you stand out in a good way.
You can make problem-solving fun again.
Your professional progress might be stifled if you think within the box rather than outside of it. There are a finite amount of ways to do things, which implies there is a limit to what you can do.
On the other hand, thinking beyond the box opens up a world of new possibilities and chances. Allowing for any and all potential solutions may actually lead to more innovative problem-solving solutions.
As an example, take Netflix. They were able to produce a worldwide phenomenon by creating an alternative to the traditional video shop design with rentals and late fees.
Related Reading: Enjoying the Moment – Check Them out Here
Final Thoughts – Destroy the Box
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a professional, one thing’s for sure: your job will evolve throughout time. To be relevant, you’ll need to be able to adapt in kind as technology, people’s preferences, and a variety of other things evolve.
As a blogger, I must continually evolve in order to be relevant. I’d rapidly become a dinosaur in my profession if I didn’t review and adapt my tactics to the changing times.
That’s probably a reason why I make the call to ‘Destroy the Box’ rather than only to ‘Think Outside the Box.’
One of the most significant advantages of thinking outside the box is that it allows you to remain adaptive. Because your mind won’t be blocked off to new ideas, solutions, or circumstances, you’ll be better equipped to manage the ever-changing business scene. Get out there and DESTROY THE BOX!