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How to be an “Outside the Box” Thinker in Your Business

How to be an “Outside the Box” Thinker in Your Business


The Box

The “box” everyone talks about is nothing more than what is known or perceived. To think outside the box is to think or perceive something that isn’t there or wasn’t there before. It takes a dash of creativity and a whole lot of giving up what you “think” you know.

Now For an Experiment

An experiment was run on a class of students. The teacher gave them one seemingly impossible task to do before the end of the year. To the first student that completed it he would give them $1,000.00 in cash. How many students do you think completed the assignment? Zero. When he asked why no one even tried, all the students shrugged and said they thought someone else would have beat them to it so none even attempted.

The next year he tried again. This time he told his students that last year no one had even attempted, and that he would give them extra credit if they simply attempted to do the impossible task. How many students completed this “impossible” task in the second year? Over 80% of them.

Change Your Perspective

Proper motivation and a change of perspective are key to good out of the box thinking. The first year students in the example above did not even attempt the task because it “seemed” impossible. They thought they knew the outcome before they even started. How many of us do this with perceived “impossible” tasks. How much further along could you be if you could only figure out how to …

There are some fun ways to get your brain out of the impossible mode and into the possible. For those that have kids, simplify your problem and ask them what they would do. The perception and honesty of a child can pull you out of the forest and into the light. It’s all about changing your perspective.

Get Another View

Another option you can do is study another industry. If you have been banging your head into the wall of your chosen industry, a change of scenery is long overdue. Some of the best engineers and doctors make their greatest discoveries and inventions when they simply change focus. You aren’t losing anything from learning something new and if it is somewhat related to your field, it may just turn the problem on its ear for you and give you a new angle.

If you are stuck and need creativity, try changing your environment. What you are doing now isn’t solving the problem so go crawl around in someone else’s reality for a while. Not only is it good for the brain, it’s good for the soul.

Patty Farmer, “The Networking CEO” is a multi-award winning and highly sought after marketing professional, public speaker, radio show host and author. As the CEO of Patty Farmer & Associates, Inc. she has been the Recipient of 2011’s International Women’s Day Business Service Award as well as 2010’s “Best Business Connector in Dallas” award and a 2010 and 2011 “America’s Most Influential Business Connector” nominee. Patty has created a network of over 100,000+ connections while teaching thousands of business owners how to effectively network and market to grow their businesses using a non-competitive and dynamic collaboration strategy.

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  1. Mary Kelly, PhD
    1920 days ago

    Great article, Patty! I love the suggestion about changing your environment to be more creative.


  2. Shirley Taylor
    1919 days ago

    I agree. Sometimes all it takes is a walk around the block and it’s enough to unblock whatever was stuck. Great article.


  3. Mark Struczewski
    1918 days ago

    Hi, Patty! Your blog post reminded me of the story about Henry Ford from Think And Grow Rich when Mr. Ford told his engineers he wanted an 8-cylinder engine but the engineers said it couldn’t be done. Mr. Ford insisted. It took the engineers over two years (if I remember correctly) to do the “impossible” but they did it. I believe persistence is also a key to thinking outside the box. By definition, persistent people don’t give up!


  4. Todd Brockdorf
    1918 days ago

    A change of environment gets my creative cocktails flowing. I particularly like the idea of reshaping the problem to help make the impossible, more possible. Thx, Patty!


  5. Sandy Weaver Carman
    1916 days ago

    Great stuff, Patty…just shared it on my Facebook page and “plussed” it on Google. Thanks for a great post!


  6. sandi coryell
    1916 days ago

    Sometimes we worry so much about what’s outside the box that we throw in the towel before we ever get off the bench. After all, that bench isn’t such a bad place to be! Great article that reminds us that when we do get up and play it’s a whole lot more fun!


  7. Andrew Szabo
    1916 days ago

    Great article, thanks for sharing!


  8. Louise Myers
    1907 days ago

    Love it Patty! Thanks for sharing these tips on “busting out of the box.”


  9. Christine Marmoy
    1902 days ago

    Great post Patty! Isn’t it amazing how we can get stuck just because of fears or just because we don’t believe that we can? I found myself a few times in that first group of students, until one day I realized that I was limiting myself…what could happen if I decided to be in the second group…nothing bad. Your post reminded me of the importance of ‘ let’s give it a real shot’. And it’s so true a change of environment is food for the soul.


  10. Elizabeth Reid
    1902 days ago

    Cool article. I think “Get Another View” is a good project for me this week. Thanks, Patty!

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