Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thinking Out of Your Box

The possible's slow fuse is lit by imagination.
-Emily Dickinson

Did you know the whole "thinking out-of- the-box" term came from an actual box? Trying to connect all 9 dots without moving your pencil off the paper in 4 lines or less is the goal of this intellectual puzzle that dates back to the Victorian era. 

In the book Out Of the Box: 101 Ideas for Thinking Creatively, author Rob Eastaway suggests you determine what your “box” is before you start brainstorming ways to get out of it. What boundaries and limitations are you facing right now that are keeping you from creating your ideal life.

Some universal ideas for cultivating  your creativity include:

-Imagining yourself after you achieved your dream/goal than work backwards from that mental image.
-Listening to your daydreams when the little voice in your head whispers “I wish” than writing those wishes down.
-Identifying your idols and than imagining how your hero approached challenges. 

I particularly related to the parts of this book that talked about tapping into your childlike way of thinking. There are three stages in life:

From age 0 to 4 years old, is the “why not” stage.
From age 5 to 11 years old is the “why” stage.
From 12 onward is the Because stage.

I am trying to be less of a “because” person and more of a “why” or “why not” kind of gal. Challenging assumptions, putting myself in new situations and breaking routines are some approaches. It also helps that I have young children in the house. If you want to simplify a challenge, try explaining it to a child. Put it in terms that even a child can understand and maybe you will be able to see the obstacle from a non-attached, more straight forward simplistic perspective. You can also call in the experts, and test your ideas out on kids. You may be surprised by the questions they generate or new directions they take your original thoughts. If you don’t have kids and you don’t want to freak anyone out by being the stranger on the playground conducting “market research”, there is another alternative explained in this thoughtful book.

Try writing the problem down in detail. Now, try writing it down in just a paragraph. Try again to dumb it down to three words. In other words simplify. You can try the reverse technique by writing in detail the solution first, than clarifying until you have just a few key words to work backwards from.

Oh by the way, here is just one of the correct  answers to that 4- line "out of the box" challenge. Most people assume that they have to stay within the boundaries of the box to connect the dots. 

Do you think out of the box?

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