How Embracing Life “Inside the Box” Fosters Creative Thinking

I hear the expression “out-of-the-box-thinker” all the time, but it seems to me that while thinking outside the box is a good thing, living outside the box may be underrated, and it’s not a good idea to confuse the two.

A couple of weeks ago my five-year-old daughter found a big box in our house. She insisted that she had to sleep in it. So like a good mom, I piled in a duvet and pillows and made her as comfortable as possible. She was so happy. In fact, she was thrilled. And this got me thinking about what life would look like “inside the box”.

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Imagine today if for 24 hours you lived “inside the box”. And by that, I mean fully and completely doing the things that are expected of you.

What if you got up, ate a healthy breakfast, and arrived at work on time? What if you were loving with your family and kind to your colleagues? What if you did your job exactly the way it was meant to be done without cutting corners? What if you knew you could rely on your peers when there was something expected of you that you just knew you wouldn’t be able to get done without their help? And made sure that they could rely on you in the same circumstance?

Inside the boxI bet that if you lived fully “in the box” you would be one of your company’s top performers. I bet you would get a raise at your next performance review.

In fact, I bet that you would find yourself innovating more, not less. And that performance review would say, not just that you were one of the company’s most reliable people, but that you were one of the brightest and most inventive as well.

The point here is not that you should be unimaginative or uncreative – far from it. But imagination, creativity, and out of the box thinking best emerge from a stable, secure foundation. There’s an old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.” But we now have plenty of studies that show that this isn’t entirely true. People are more likely to blaze new trails when they feel their survival, comfort, and happiness are assured. They become creative not when they feel they have to, but when they feel they safely can. Security, not necessity, is the mother of invention.

Another old saying, with more truth to it, is that you can’t begin to bend or break the rules until you first know the rules and know how to follow them.

The truth is, you can’t think outside the box easily or effectively unless you start from inside it. That daily routine, with good diet, regular exercise, solid work habits, and personal, financial, and social responsibility, don’t keep you from being creative. On the contrary, they make being creative easier.

Innovation is great, and I LOVE to innovate – but I also invite you to consider that life “inside the box” can be pretty great as well! I challenge you to live for 24 hours “inside the box” and let me know what breakthroughs open up for you.

Here’s to your success!