Think Outside The Boxes (Yes, Both)

Actually, there are two boxes.
  1. Society’s box (societal norms)
  2. Your personal box (self-imposed boundaries)

First, let’s examine society’s box.

Think Outside Society’s Box

Inside of society’s box, it’s relatively safe. That’s why most people think and live inside it. It’s proven. It works. Standard processes form its walls.

To think outside society’s box is to consider alternatives to expected processes.

It’s what Mark Hughes did when he convinced a town to rename themselves to as a marketing tactic (Buzz Marketing). Mark’s idea gave big results for much less cash than traditional marketing. It was unproven and risky, but it paid off big time (ebay bought them 6 months later for 300 million dollars).

Risk-aversion is why people stay inside the box. Who had previously convinced a town to rename themselves to a website? Nobody. Who knew if it would work? Nobody.

But Mark Hughes still bought a plane ticket to Halfway, Oregon to pitch the idea.

Sometimes the risk of venturing outside the box is worth it. I quit my job on the first day and subsequently had to move back in with my parents. It was a tough decision. The economy was in shambles and I was supposed to be thankful to have any job.

But I didn’t agree with those situational expectations. Now I’m making twice as much money as I would have been. It’s nice when the risk pays off.

Risk and reward are proportional. If you play it safe, you won’t get phenomenal results – you’ll get typical results. There’s nothing wrong with typical results if that’s what you want.

Thinking outside of society’s box is always a good idea – it gives you more options and ideas. You might even choose to live outside of this box. You need to decide what you’re willing to risk. Inside the box is not better or worse – it’s less risk and less reward.

Think Outside Your Personal Box

No matter how great your potential, there will be natural limits you can’t overcome (death, beating me in chess, etc.). These are permanent boundaries. In addition to those, you are confined within the boundaries you’ve set for yourself.

Personal boundaries can be moved, but in the present moment they form your box’s walls. These walls are impenetrable, but you can think about moving them back. These walls are based on your potential in a given area.

Your maximum wealth potential is an example of a boundary. But how do you know what it is? You don’t.

What’s interesting is how people tend to decide their potential prematurely based on poor assumptions. Instead of exploring and discovering their potential, people will look to the world or past performance to tell them what they are capable of, effectively boxing themselves in…

Are You Limiting Your Potential?

You can only work within your personal box because it is impossible to do something you believe is impossible.

You won’t even attempt it. Tom Cruise, despite the Mission Impossible title, believes those missions are possible!

If you attempt something, it means you have at the very least a small belief that your desired outcome will occur. Anything you believe is outside your potential is on the other side of your box. Like 99.999% of people, if I was blind, I would not climb Everest. I wouldn’t believe I could and wouldn’t try.

To grow, then, you must expand your box walls. To do that, you need to get close enough to start pushing them. You can’t push them from 30 feet away. You need to get up in their wall-like face and shove them outward (with an attitude, obviously).

What’s the point of all this? That is always a great question to ask. This matters because many of the self-limiting boundaries you have are literally what stand between you and your dreams! That’s a problem you need to fix!

Challenge your boundaries. Test them for accuracy. Are you sure you can’t do that? How many times have you tried?

When you achieve something that was on the outermost frontier of what you believed was possible, you will undoubtedly expand that particular horizon out further. Before long, you’ll be doing “crazy stuff” that those other people do.

This isn’t just climbing mountains – it’s starting a business, asking for a raise, asking her out, going to Japan, running a marathon, learning French, and writing a novel.

When a football player scores his first touchdown, he doesn’t typically say, “wow, I just reached my absolute potential in football!” No, he is inspired to get 1 or 2 more touchdowns as his confidence and performance expectations increase. You can “tackle” your boundaries in the same way.

Sorry, I heard somewhere that football puns were fun and fell for it.

Surpassing a boundary is the legal way to experience euphoria. Imagine Erik (the blind man referenced earlier) when he felt the cool, thin air of victory atop the highest summit in the world.

What would you love to do that you don’t currently believe you can do? Are you positive that it is impossible? Could you work towards it somehow? What does it take to accomplish that you’re currently missing? Can you gain that missing ingredient?

Approaching a boundary is scary. That’s why they’re boundaries! You’ve placed your box walls there for various reasons. Some reasons are valid…

…but others are not. Expand your box.

Mindshift: Become Decisive

This article is part of the fascinating series, Mindshift.

It’s a shame.

Poor decision-making skills are an epidemic. Parents are supposed to teach their children (because they sure won’t learn it in school), but they often lack the skill themselves. This cycle continues and hoards ofRead More

How Deep Thinking Can Be Harmful

Thinking is arguably the most important function we have. It determines everything we do. It dictates our mood.

With this blog, I aim to promote depth and quality of thought in order to improve lives.

But everyone should be aware that there is a dark side to deep, analytical thinking.Read More

Learning How To Change – A Resolution For Everyone

Your resolution is probably going to be a failure.

Sorry, but the statistics show it. As time goes on, I hear more and more people decide not to do New Year’s Resolutions anymore because they don’t last. I’ve been one of them…until this year.

There is one resolution that is plausible and stands the best chance to permanently change your life. It isn’t as daunting as losing 50 pounds. It isn’t flashy like training for a marathon. Once you successfully accomplish this resolution, you won’t ever have the need to initiate another one.

This is the resolution that keeps on giving until you die. Sounds good, right? That’s because it is. It isn’t easy to execute, but I believe it is easy to learn how it works. This year I recommend that you skip the traditional resolutions and commit to learning how to change.

Learning How To Change

New Year’s Resolutions fail consistently because none of us really know what we’re doing. We decide to lose weight and plan to go to the gym 5 days a week. We do it for the first 2-3 weeks and then begin to slip. Our motivation eventually gives out and we lapse back into our old ways.

But there are people overcoming the most powerful addictions in the world every day. There are people that are losing weight, chasing their dreams recklessly, and changing into who they want to be. What are they doing that the rest of us are not?

In short, I don’t know. It is my goal to find out and I’ve found a couple of books to start with. Of course, I’ll be blogging about my progress and what I’m learning in the coming posts.

Three psychologists studied the phenomenon of change over several years by examining thousands of people in multiple studies. They wrote a book about it called Changing For Good. This is what I’ll be reading over the next days.

I’m also interested in picking up This Year I Will…, which has positive reviews but is perhaps more anecdotal. I wanted to first go with a book that had a lot of scientific research behind it. In fact, the Changing For Good system is used by the Center For Disease Control (USA), the National Cancer Institute (USA), National Health Service (GB), and Johnson & Johnson.

The New Year’s Resolution model of change is a joke to many people for good reason. Instead of going against it this year, I’m going to use the minuscule motivation provided by a new set of 365 days and decide to learn how change really works. If I am successful, I’ll be able to use the foundation to mold myself and my life into what I really want it to be.

It’s more obtainable than most other lofty New Year’s goals, and yet it pays dividends for the rest of my life.

Now you need to decide – are you going to lose 20 pounds this year or learn how change works so you can shape your lifestyle to make the pounds fall off? If it is the latter, there are two highly rated books I referenced here as well as a plethora of other resources to help you learn about change.

“If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.”

~ Chinese Proverb