Why ‘Thinking Outside the Box’ Isn’t Such a Bad Idea

September 29, 2010

A Lonely Cardboard Box, on Flickr by Alyssa Miller

Molds. Everywhere you go it seems people want to compare you to others.

Ohh, you’ve been dating 3 years and aren’t engaged? Well, Joe and Jane over there only dated for 2 years before they got married.

You’re 29 and retiring from your corporate job? [weird, twisted face] Umm, I don’t get it. [shaking head] That’s not possible.

You’re on Twitter, therefore you have to live and breathe Twitter and post every five minutes or else you won’t be successful.

People that live in this neighborhood stay until their kids are school-aged. That’s the way it works. No one moves until then.

I’m starting a business, so I have to get funding before I begin.

Be You

Molds scare me. And not just the kind that tends to grow on the walls of our dungeon-like basement.

You are who you are, and no else but you knows the full story about your situation. Your relationships, your finances, your business, your life. Learn from the mistakes of others, yes. Follow in the footsteps of the successful, yes, but still use your head. Be yourself. Be TRUE to yourself.

See the difference?

Compare yourself to others for the sake of learning and adjusting your course of action. Compare yourself to others to inspire and motivate and perhaps even instill a sense of urgency. Be careful, however, when comparing yourself to others as a determination of success or failure. Be careful when assuming you have to fit into the mold.

Don’t Get Sucked Into Assumptions

Some entrepreneurs credit their ability to work from home as the key to their success. Does that mean other entrepreneurs who choose to work from an office or a coffee shop will never find that success? Of course not.

With some examples, it almost sounds silly that people would force themselves into a mold like that.

Be very hesitant to box yourself into ideals. Or, taking it further, boxing yourself into assumptions. Assuming that one way is the only way does nothing for you but close doors.

Keep An Open Mind

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but thinking outside of the box is such a popular, cliche phrase because it’s (mostly) true. Thinking outside of your assumptions, allowing your mind to be open to “different” ways of doing things can do no harm.

Do you have to take actions on all of the crazy, out-of-box ideas that you run across? Of course not. But don’t box your mind into the normal assumptions of how things are “supposed” to work, or what’s expected. (Which brings up another thought – who sets the expectations on us, anyway? Who is They?)

Vemma & Twitter

In my Vemma business we follow a system. This is how you build the business, a b c d… Why is this successful? Because it’s duplicatable. The business is all about building a network, and networks support their own growth by easily being able to grow, and around and around. It’s duplicatable because it eliminates everything NOT to do.

You follow the system, yes. But while you’re working on step 2 does it matter if you’re doing it from your porch or your office or a cruise ship? No. Does it matter if you work 1 minute a day or 10 hours a day? Nope. Who says you have to move fast if moving slowly but surely is the way you roll?

With Twitter, many will argue the benefits of auto-following those who follow you. Others will argue that the reason for their success is NOT auto-following and making every interaction personal. Some say you have to use a third-party application like TweetDeck, others swear on Twitter.com.

Are we all still using Twitter? And taking advantage of building our businesses and our brands by sending concise 140 character messages to our audience? And listening and conversing? Yup, yup, and yup.

The moral? Follow the system, use the tools – but do it your own way.

Consider It

Be a continual bigger thinker. Step back and identify what assumptions about the way things “have to be” can be removed from your situation. Follow in the footsteps of the successes before you, but do it your own way. Be wary of comparisons for comparisons sake.

Get good at thinking about Why something has to be a certain way. You don’t have to take action away from the mold. Just don’t completely close your mind to the possibilities. Just…consider it.

What say you?

Previous post:

Next post: