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 Half.com 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.

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.

Robert

Hey man,

Really great to see you blogging on a regular basis. Nice, refreshing and non-patronising take on the subject.

It’s the people that take the risks that get rewarded, even if it sometimes involves losing. Brian Tracy talks about this in his book “Advanced Selling Strategies”. He says that we all have a sort of subconscious income bracket. We are used to earning a certain amount of money every month, and every time this changes we get it back to the same amount, whether that involves working harder to earn the threshold or frivolously spending bonuses rather than investing. Everything is how we look at it – it’s all about exploration and discovery. When we acknowledge that we think this way we can change it.

It’s the doers that achieve things, but you’ve got to be thinking outside the box to be willing to take the required action.

Stephen Guise

Hey Robert,

It’s good to be back! 🙂

Yeah, isn’t it fascinating how we adapt to our level of income? When I was unemployed for a while, I became very skilled at scraping by. Now that I have a job, it has become much more difficult to maintain that same level of spending as before.

You’re right about the solution though. Awareness allows us to make better decisions. Since I’ve been aware of this phenomenon, I’ve been able to cut my spending back to a reasonable amount. But a few years ago, I was victim to what you described.

Thanks for contributing that, Robert.

Riley Harrison

I think one of the keys to realizing your potential (and that’s the name of the game isn’t it) is to be proactive in finding sources of true inspiration. We all need that little extra push to go from insight to action.
Riley

Stephen Guise

Inspiration is the ultimate catalyst to take us into action. But as you said, first we must gain insight to know what to do. What are some of your sources of inspiration?

Andrew

great post very interesting thank you

Stephen Guise

My pleasure Andrew.

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