‘Think outside the box’. What does that actually mean?

- December 3, 2015 3 MIN READ

Steve Jobs told us to ‘Think different’. IKEA tells us to ‘Think outside the square you live in’, and many motivational speakers tell us to ‘think outside the box’. But what does that even mean?

This may sound lame, but I still love that Ricky Martin song, Livin’ La Vida Loca. I loved it when it came out, I listened to it a lot and even downloaded the Spanish version. (It’s OK, I won’t judge you if you silently judge me. I know when Livin’ La Vida Loca comes on you’ll be singing along; albeit only in your head.)

Ricky Martin encouraged us to take risks, to challenge life and love, even if it meant getting your heartbroken or losing your cash. The thrill is in the chase after all, and the capture can seem often anticlimactic. I think in business, many of us have done some things which would seem crazy or risky to others; particularly to those who are employees.

Following your passion and your way of life is a goal for all business owners, and you have to face the fear of losing your regular paycheck or job benefits in order to jump that hurdle.

The challenge is: once you’ve achieved your goal, what is your next challenge? How do you keep yourself fresh, focussed and challenged? How do you ensure you continue to grow and not stagnate?

The answer could be as simple as stepping outside of the box you’re in.

Now, many people tell you to ‘think outside the box’. But do you know where that well-worn cliché actually comes from? Well, it comes from this puzzle.

dot puzzle The key to solving this puzzle? To literally go outside the box.

In reality, there is no box; it’s just that our mind creates a mental box around the nine dots as a way of our brain’s habit of organising data into a recognisable and comfortable format. The only way to solve the puzzle is to basically to ignore your own preconceived ideas and let go of your cultural conditioning.

What cultural conditioning?

Well, if you’re like me, you probably attended 10-12 years of school (Kindergarten: the best four years of my life!) and were probably even raised by people who were schooled for a similar amount of time. The formal school system teaches everyone to be the same, study the same subjects and work towards the same goal.

You were taught to a standard, then taught how to prepare a resume and then directed to get a job. Then you were expected to work hard to make someone else’s dreams come true; to make someone else rich. It sounds awful when we put it like that, but it’s true. Corporate slavery is one of the worst bit of cultural conditioning going round!

Nothing in school prepares you for innovation, creativity, working your own hours, on your own projects, in your own location. Which is why living without being told what to door living without a regular paycheque can seem really scary to many people.

If you’re a solo business owner or thinking of becoming one, you will need about 20% training in strategy and about 80% training in a new mindset.

Think different – embrace the change and step outside the box to where your dreams reside.

Understand that much of your limitations are inherited, learned or culturally absorbed. They are not real, and if they do not apply to all humans, then why should they apply to you?

If someone, somewhere, is running a business that does something innovative, inspiring and amazing, what exactly is stopping you from doing the same?

Think different. Work different. Get different results. Change the world.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"