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Are You Thinking Outside The Box?

box.jpgOddly enough, I was outside the box thinking about thinking outside the box just the other day.

What I discovered was something interesting…once I was outside the box, I was free. I could run, dance, play all I wanted. There were no boundaries, only wide-open spaces. No responsibilities, no deadlines, and no structure. Just unabated freedom.

But that wasn’t the interesting part. Being footloose and fancy free was fun, for a while. That’s right, for a while.

After a short time, however, I got board. I started looking back at the box. I moved slowly toward it. And when I got near, I peered inside. I realized the box wasn’t that bad. It provided structure and boundaries that made me productive. It also gave me sense of purpose since I was responsible for my clients, my family, myself.

Soon, I saw the box not as a prison, but as a container. A container with limitations, sure. Yet as romantic as it sounds to be completely free, it’s the limitations that give our lives meaning. Without them, we’d never accomplish anything.

You see, what I’ve learned is that our boxes aren’t bad things. They’re quite the opposite, actually. They give us perspective on where we’ve been, where we are and where we want to go. It’s good to think outside the box, otherwise you’d never grow. And the funny thing about growing is that soon you should out grow your box and need to build a larger one.

Are you thinking outside your box? When’s the last time you built a larger one?

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  1. Fascinating post. I’ve always done my best work within the box. Give me an odd set of limitations, and I’ll give you a unique solution to the problem.

    No limitations… I’m not sure that exists, maybe you just can’t see the sides of a really big box.

  2. cool idea!

  3. Greg Stras says:

    I’m not thinking outside the box. I think I am the box.

  4. To outmaneuver opponents you will always have to think outside the box. Thinking inside the box will restrict your capabilities as the box is limited and small. People who made it to the top in their respective field always were out of the box to begin with.

  5. DouglasT,
    I agree. I think parameters are necessary to find solutions. And let’s be honest…where in real life aren’t there parameters?

    Be the box…be the ball.

    You make a great point – we can’t escape all limitations. There will always be something for us to push up against – internally and externally. And the idea of building a bigger box is allowing ourselves to push through some of those limitations. There’ll always be more, yet we can only know what lies beyond by trying.

    Exactly. Wasn’t it Ben Franklin who defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result? You have to think outside your norms to find change.

  6. I agree, it’s important to remember the difference between thinking outside the box and living outside the box.

  7. I have such an affection for the in the box, out of the box conversation. I relate to it in so many ways. Adding Freelance work to my days has had a lot of impact on the box and viewing it larger. I sometimes wish I could look at the box from over here – perhaps it would be wrapped with a bow – a gift or treasure for someone to find, or stamped with stamps from around the world – seasoned with life experiences and wisdom. And then sometimes I think maybe all the box needs is a little redecorating – or some serious internal rearranging. Feng Shui ( sp ? ) for the box.

    Mother Earth

  8. I believe that by just being a part of “Priscilla’ Palmer’s Personal Development list obligates each of us to also post this list. You like me (Killeris at “Attitude, the Ultimate Power”) are on this list. If you have already posted it, THANK YOU. If you have not posted it, I am officially putting out a challenge that you add additional sites that fit the theme and post it. This list can be found at:

  9. dont just think outside of the box, think one step ahead.

  10. Dave,
    Yep. How do you see the difference?

    Mother Earth,
    That’s lovely. And does the box expand?

    Thanks for your comment, though I’m uncertain how it relates to our conversation.

    So that means you’re one step ahead of the box…which puts you outside the box, right?

  11. Outside the box is scary, not for the creative, perhaps, but often, for the payee. It takes a lot of courage to veer away from the “tried-and-true” doesn’t it? Many are looking to replicate the proven and outside the box there is little that has been proven, if anything.

    I like the box, more or less, although I don’t necessarily like being confined TO the box should I have a need to test it’s boundaries.

  12. Great question – so far the second week of freelance work has made the box brighter, it’s opened the windows and let the fresh air in. It’s opened doors, the kind of doors I never could have imagined. I’d say that it is definitely expansive.

    Mother Earth

  13. Char,
    I think it can be difficult to convince clients to try something new. Yet when they can clearly see the potential, it’s easier.

    Like with blogging…some just don’t have the right information to see the great potential. But when they get it, blogs often sell themselves.

    Mother Earth,
    Freelancing for years…keep stretching.

  14. may i ask what dollar amount does a freelance writer get paid – going rate – published rate – what’s the criteria ?

    I have no idea what to charge.

    This job started out as a sortof telemarketing gig, now it’s become a write a newsletter/blog – rewrite website/ menu’s gig with a dash of assistant thrown in

    I know it’s really not a “in the box – out of the box” question – or perhaps it is??

    Mother Earth

  15. Mother Earth,
    Freelance writer…I actually have no idea. I was speaking to having freelanced as a solopreneur business owner for more than a decade. But my own focus isn’t writing. Rather it’s web development, online business development and social media. I do website design and development, along with web-based business planning and social media and marketing consulting and coaching.

    One thought about setting price – what do you feel is the right amount for you to get for the level and quality of work you’re doing? Sit down and really contemplate it. Then consider whether it’s realistic for your client to pay. And remember, it’s possible that it’s too low.

  16. I recently set a fee for my consulting with a product purchase “carrot” in the structure. I am not getting the nibbles I had hoped for – I wanted to convert time spent with a potential client into revenue, sometimes it’s several hours w/o pay. 20 hours last month of much needed revenue. I looked really hard at the going rates, mine are lower and selfworth – do I think I am worth such and such an hour -I really do!!

    With freelance writing someone told me $1 a word. This postwould be worth almost $100!!

    My current writing involves research, drafts, editing etc – I can see how that might make sense. You also bring up a great point about what a client can or is willing to pay.

    Thanks for the thoughtful prompting

    Mother Earth

  17. Mother Earth,
    Certainly. Just glad I could help.

  18. Very nice post. A different optimistic way to think about the box.

  19. After watching a certain DVD, I just wrote the question, [10th sept 07] “Are you outside your box today?” And then thought will I find this on the web.??? And your site is the closest one… Congradulations. And yes I try to think outside the box but it usually pretty lonely. And then the eggs and tomatoes missles arrive usually together. RSVP..? ;o)

  20. Dan,
    Thanks. It’s been my experience that we’re always at the mercy of our beliefs.

    You’re welcome. So what does it mean for you to be ‘outside the box?’

  21. Interesting…I like to think of the box, outside the box thing with my analogy of having a map versus not having a map…the is issue is not whether or not your have limitations to keep structure and order in your life…the issue is “who created your box?” or “who drafted your map” if you will. Most certainly each individual has every right to create their own map

  22. JoClo,
    Without a doubt. But how many of us create a map that leads us to new ways of thinking?

  23. Exactly…because we forget that we don’t have to fit the standard, we ARE the standard…however if we like the destination that we get to from using one map, then use it (someone elses way of thinking), although we also have infinite ability to create from the boundless…
    heres a cool link

  24. JoClo,
    Sounds like we’re on the same page. What do you do to keep your creativity juiced?

  25. I like your thinking perspective.You made me also to think that we shouldnt rush going out of the box. The limits of the box lets us more flexible to adjust for the constraint that will come our way.

  26. lei,
    Exactly. I think the point isn’t that we’re out of the box, it’s that we continue to expand the box we live in.

  27. Jerry from Ohio says:

    I like your artical. May I ask is this question just two far outside the box?
    There are two identical jars, one containing 1 germ and the other 2 germs. Each germ reproduces it’s self every second. The first jar, with one germ fills up in 60 minutes. How long will it take for the other jar to fill up?
    The given answer is 59 minutes and fitynine secounds. the answer seems to egnore the two to one ratio growth rate.
    I have scaled down the problem and I always come up with 30 minutes. What is wrong with me?
    Thanks Jerry

  28. Jerry from Ohio says:

    Thanks for your kind comment, but what about this problem? There doesn’t appear to be much that supports the answer. The false statement in the problem is that after 1 second jar 1 becomes like jar 2. Fact is jar 1 never catches up with jar 2. And the ratio is 2 to 1 through out the cycle.
    How can these facts be ignored? The author has said to avoid a mathematical quagmire to think in terms of time. In the real world this fuzzy logic doesn’t cut it. Can anyone help?
    Best regards

  29. Jerry,
    Nothing. When I was a math student in college, I found a proof that showed that 1 = 0. So things aren’t always what they seem. And most things certainly aren’t cut-and-dry.

  30. Jerry,
    Nothing’s wrong on your perspective from where I sit. Logic is just as subjective as anything else. It all depends on perspective. That’s why I gave you the example of being able to prove that 1 = 0. It’s all in how we perceive, interpret and create concepts around a topic.

    So it’s not fuzzy logic…it’s perspective – which will forever be subjective.

  31. Jerry from Ohio says:

    Thanks for the advice on this issue. I have seen the light!
    Best regards

  32. Jerry,
    No light…just ideas. The beauty if we all have them to share. And I appreciate yours.

  33. Great post. It’s when we start being open with other possibilities that we start to have a better grip of our paths. We become better at what we do when we have a broader perspective.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Are You Thinking Outside The Box?…

    Oddly enough, I was outside the box thinking about thinking outside the box just the other day. What I discovered was something interesting…once I was outside the box, I was free. I could run, dance, play all I wanted. There were no boundaries, only …

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