Getting Outside That Box

Have you ever been told you need to think outside the box? You then wonder what that really means.

When it comes to thinking outside the box, we need to realize that the walls of the box (the thing that limits or controls our thinking) is usually made up of one of four walls. In order to think outside that box, we need to knock down or break through at least one of those walls.

So, let’s look at the four walls of our box, and ask four questions, one for each wall. If we can remove one of those walls, we may discover a whole new area and way of thinking.

Wall #1 Am I limited by Tradition? “But, we have always done it like that!” can be a good statement, it can also be a limiting statement. If we can only consider doing something because traditionally we have done it that way, we will be limiting our creativity.

Many organizations have unchallenged traditions, things they have ‘always’ done and people who have ‘always’ done them. The leader needs to ask, “Wonder if…”. Maybe doing it in a different way or maybe not doing something you have ‘always’ done.

Wall #2 Am I limited by Pride? “What will people think?”   The leader who is more concerned with impressing people or worried about what ‘they’ think will always be limited in his creativity. Yes, your new idea may fail! But, you will not know until you try. Do your best to do it right and then ride it out. If it proves itself to be a bad idea, admit it was your decision and correct it. Never, never blame someone else.

Wall #3 Am I limited by Fear? “What happens if it doesn’t work?” This is a partner to pride. We all have some concern about trying something new. Do your best to study, plan, announce and implement, then keep a close eye on it and see what happens. Correct it as you go or stop it if it isn’t right. Let people know you don’t always have all the answers and could be making a mistake, but, do it because it is the right thing to do.

Wall #4 Am I limited by Resources? “How could we ever pull that off?” Sometimes money or personnel limits us in new directions. Find people to help you. See if someone already on the team could do what needs to be done. Maybe divert some funds to try something new. If it is worth doing, it may be worth the effort to give it a try.

You are the leader, in fact, you are sometimes called ‘the agent of change’. Make sure you are not limited by things that you can change. Don’t let yourself be ‘boxed’ in.

Ron Cline/2016

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