MM: Don’t Think Outside the Box, Grow It!

This Monday I was reading over a couple books, and I came across a great chapter. It was talking about the old management/corporate slogan of ‘thinking outside the box’. I would categorize sayings like that with other similar mottos, such as ‘give it 110%’ – they really don’t make any sense. The author goes on to point out that thinking outside your box is impossible – how can you think beyond the realm of your experiences and skills?

So What If Not ‘Outside the Box’?

Here is the authors counter suggestion: grow your box. By expanding the fields that are encompassed by your experience ‘box’, you can take a better holistic perspective, and see any one problem from more angles. So here is the suggestion of this Momentum Monday: what are you going to do over the next four (4) months that will help expand your box?

Here is my challenge: find one thing; be it a new instrument, language, skill, or anything similar that you can immerse yourself in for the next 4 months. After that, you can decide whether or not you want to extend your commitment – but just keep at it for 4 months. What you will find (and what I have found) is that learning a new skill has two great benefits.

Firstly, you become a better learner the more you do it (that is, the more you learn new things!). You are able to more rapidly acquire new talents and skills, and thus each learning is an investment in the process of the next – you get a compounded rate of return as you repeat the process. Take for example a musician. Once learning a single instrument, it is much easier to learn a second, and many times easier to learn a third – the process becomes faster and easier each time a new instrument is added. It’s the same in life with a more broad range of skills. Although the rate of improvement might not be as fast, it’s certainly there.

Secondly, changing ‘streams’ is a great way to give your mind a break, and has been some of my greatest moments of clarity and insight. I recently took up the violin, and although I am a beginner (I only recently mastered Mary Had A Little Lamb), I can already feel the benefits. Whenever I feel frazzled from working on an email or project, I take a break and engage my brain with the violin. While it feels like a break, it is also a refreshing mental exercise, and some of my greatest insights have been birthed during such violin breaks.


So here’s my idea for this Monday: find an activity, skill or pursuit that will help you expand your mental ‘box’. Something which will help you grow your mind and sphere of opinion, and you never know – you might end up liking it.



Blair Livingston’s Blog



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