You often hear the phrase, "Think Outside The Box," but just what does that really mean? How does one go about thinking outside the box? Obviously, it is a metaphor of how we are initially taught as children to color within the lines--or the "box." It implies learning to follow directions, do as all others do, and not to deviate from the accepted norm. Yet, if we never venture outside the box at some point in our lives, we do not discover the richness of all that lies beyond. Outside the box exists adventure, unexplored worlds, and "creativity." Thus, the term to "think outside the box" is to free the mind and go beyond the constraints of traditional thought and problem solving. To "think outside the box" is to explore new ideas that have yet remained unexplored.
Once children have mastered coloring inside the box, then they must be taught to explore the world beyond those lines. To "color outside the lines" is to enter a world that is not as orderly and controlled. It is not as comfortable. Stepping outside the lines is like discord in music, unmatched socks with dress pants, and ice cream with sauerkraut. It is easy to return to the box--to life within the lines, where we are not criticized or rejected or ridiculed for being different. It is not always easy to keep time and march in order, but it is often easier than being seen as socially awkward or stepping to the beat of a drum that only you hear.
One key to creative thinking is seeing issues from a unique perspective. From within the box, everyone sees a problem from a similar viewpoint. However, from outside of the box lies a fresh perspective. When someone sees a problem from a different field of view and with fresh eyes, a new solution springs forth. Overcoming the fear of being rejected or seeming irrational allows a world of completely different possibilities. There is room to play, think, create, dance, and dream.
We have all heard the proverbial, "you can't see the forest for the trees." This, in essence, means that we are too close to the problem to see the obvious solution. It is hard to see the outside from the inside; but if we put a little bit of distance between us, then we can see the entire forest. If we step outside the box, then we may just see all four corners, the lines, and the angles that make up the entire shape.
At Stormcells, we regularly offer Diaminds® Challenges. These challenges are presented by a charity that needs to solve chronic or resistant problems. Those individuals who elect to participate in the event can bring unique perspectives to the challenge, since they are outside of the theoretical box in which the charity staff sit. These new perspectives provide insight and creative solutions that allow a breakthrough on behalf of the charity. Equally important, the participant discovers their creative potential and opens a window to the universe, lightyears beyond the box!
--Dr. Roy L Miller II
Dr. Miller was a co-founder of Stormcells but has since ventured outside of the Stormcells box. He does, however, remain involved from time to time.