By Roy H. Williams
Regardless of how many people suggest that you start thinking “outside the box,” it cannot in truth be done. As long as you are living within your skin, you will always be in a box.
Your box is your perspective, your worldview, your schema - the sum of your life’s experiences - your own personal set of assumptions. Like a seat in a stadium, your “box” determines the angle from which you view every game.
What people call “thinking outside the box” can be accomplished only by getting out of your seat and walking to an unfamiliar part of the stadium to borrow the seat of someone else.
Now you’re seeing things from their point of view. You’re still in a “box,” but it’s not your own. You’ve borrowed a new perspective so that you’re seeing your problem through the eyes of another - according to their values and assumptions.
Do you have the courage to do it? Most people do not, because it requires that they first accept how small their own, private world really is. It requires that they realize they may not, in fact, be entirely right.
Of course the people around you have a perspective similar to your own. They’re sitting in your part of the stadium.
Are you ready to see the view from another seat?
Think of a problem, a challenge, or an opportunity that you currently face. Ask yourself, “How would Mother Teresa deal with this?” Teresa’s values were unconditional acceptance and a willingness to sacrifice for the good of others. Mother Teresa was successful.
Now ask, “How would Attila the Hun deal with this?” Attila’s values were subjugation and dominance and he was ruthless in his efforts to achieve them. Attila was successful, too.
Which of these perspectives was the farthest from your own? Go there. Spend time in that box if you really want to grow.
Now ask, “How would Disney World deal with it?” Disney’s values are fantasy and fun and they spare no expense in making every illusion beautiful. How would McDonald’s deal with it? McDonald’s values are speed and efficiency and they are willing to sharply limit customer choices to increase them. How would Rolls Royce deal with it? Rolls Royce ignores trends and costs and rejects mass-appeal thinking. They position themselves only to appeal to the fewest of the few.
Are you beginning to get the idea? People within your own industry can teach you the basics but you won’t find revolutionary thinking until you’ve wandered to the furthest reaches of the stadium.
Good luck to you on your journey. Be sure to pack a lunch.
And take a warm coat. I hear it gets cold in the upper seats where they watch the wonderful big picture unfold without the encumbrance of specific details.