The path to innovation and success, so we’re told, is thinking outside of the box. But which box specifically—where is it exactly and how do we go about thinking outside of it? Might I suggest that you start with that box that sits squarely atop your shoulders.
That’s right. The box is not out there in some mythical, hard-to-reach location. The box is you. You are your own box. It is inside you, inside your head.
You need to step outside of it. You need to get out of your own mind—just for a little while.
Observe it objectively from afar. Be your own fly on your own wall. Be curious, ask your box lots of questions like the 4 Questions Byron Katie uses in The Work.
And when you’ve asked those questions, ask some more. New thinking is best stimulated by asking questions. Because if you already knew the answers you were seeking there would be no need to think about it in the first place.
I know that seems like kind of a “duh” statement. Because it is. But I am constantly amazed how people continually return to their old, finite, existing patterns of thought when they are in search of new answers to new problems.
News flash: You won’t find the answers there.
Albert Einstein said it best when he said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
If Einstein’s statement is true, then we need to access a new or higher level of thinking in order to find the solutions we seek. Aside from asking questions (as we discussed earlier) I would suggest two additional methods for thinking outside of the box.
First, get help. Two heads are better than one, as they say. So go out and enlist the aid of someone whose opinion you trust. Let them ask questions. Observe them observing you observing yourself. Zoom out. Go wide. Open up to the possibility of something never before seen.
Second, be willing to abandon anything and everything you have previously believed in order to create space for something new. Empty your cup, as Bruce Lee would say. Remember, nature abhors a vacuum—it will rush in to fill the void in your mind. What comes flooding in will usually be the answers you are looking for.
Think outside your box. Let go of what you think you know. You just might be amazed and what you find.