Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Survival Mindset - Thinking Outside the Box

It’s hard to “think outside the box” when our natural inclination is to think of things in the traditional sense. As creatures of habit, we have a tendency to follow routine thinking in many of our actions. Once our thinking has become routine and starts to follow a regular pattern, our creativity and our ability to be innovative in our thoughts suffers as a result. It will also be harder to improvise a solution to our problems.

How can you learn to effectively think outside the box? It’s not as hard as some may think. You just have to change the way you look at things in order to view things in a less conventional manner.

Most people have developed a “comfort zone” in their way of thinking and as a result they automatically view things in a “normal” or conventional manner. This comfort zone can be expanded with a little practice and your thinking can be moved outside the box. Many times it is the result of our own self-imposed limits on our way of thinking that limits our ability to “think outside the box”.

Most great ideas are actually very simple and are the result of several different factors. The first factor is simplicity itself.  How many times have you said to yourself “Now why didn’t I think of that?” Thinking outside the box doesn’t require super-human levels of intelligence but if you have a tendency to take a narrower view of things, you quite often miss the simplest of solutions. Try to look at things in simpler and less complex ways. The wheel was one of the simplest ideas to ever come about but it changed the whole world.

The next factor in “thinking outside the box” is value. Most people have a lot of great ideas everyday. Unfortunately, many lack true value and the thought is quickly abandoned. If your “great idea” makes it is harder to accomplish a task that can be done in a simpler manner, it will have little or no worth. An idea or a concept that is different from conventional thinking needs to have value to truly qualify as “thinking outside the box”.

Another factor in “thinking outside the box” is that it must be practical. This is critical in order to achieve the desired results. If it becomes more difficult to use or it takes more time to accomplish your goals, you’ll need to do a little more thinking on the subject.

There is also the ultimate way to learn how to “think outside the box”. All you need to do is observe a child playing outside for a while and observe their actions. Many children have no pre-conceived notions of how you are supposed to think. They view things in a different manner and will come up with a variety of simple and practical ways of using things that gives them value. By way of example, you need only consider one the simplest things in nature...the rock.

In the mind of a child, a rock will become many things. If it’s really big, it becomes a chair for them to sit on. If it’s slightly smaller, it becomes a hammer to pound stuff. If it’s smaller still, it becomes a weapon of miniature destruction (WMD?) and will be hurled at the closest available target...moving or non-moving. If it’s even smaller, it quickly gets checked for its edible qualities.

Got rock candy?

Staying above the water line!



HermitJim said...

Very good advice, my friend. Especially the part about observing kids at play! Talk about the creative process!

millenniumfly said...

Thinking outside the box is without a doubt my Achilles heel. Thanks for the advice.

riverwalker said...

To; HermitJim

Kids can teach you to see things in a different because they haven't confined their thinking to the traditional method. Give them a stick, a rock or some other simple item and they will find a way to use it to suit the needs of their imaginations.

Thanks Jim.


riverwalker said...

To: milleniumfly

Hope these tips help. It's hard to explain in writing and is more of a trait that needs to be re-established. When you stpo to think about it, it actually seems easier to think "outside the box".



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