The "Impossible Journeys" Archive

Ready to embark on a magnificent adventure? Enjoy essays and ideas for designing an extraordinary life.

Location: New York, United States

Strategic advisor, thinker, hiker, and author of "Journey to the Impossible: Designing an Extraordinary Life."

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Inside a Bigger Box

“Think outside the box.” The phrase has been so overused that it was recently used as a punch line in a television commercial. The concept behind the phrase seems to have merit: We normally think in certain patterns, but to be creative we need to think in diverse, chaotic patterns. True.

However, this antiquated phrase is still inaccurate. Thinking “outside the box” is literally and figuratively impossible. Here’s why:

An individual’s thought process is a magnificent blend of beliefs, rules, experiences and intuition that shape ideas and each person’s personal reality. Since each of us has unique beliefs, rules, experiences and intuitive senses, we each have a distinctive thought process, otherwise called our box. In order to think “outside” our box we need to shift one or more elements of thought. The result of this shift is a “new” concept different from how we, and perhaps others, perceive things.

But this new idea is not “outside the box.” As a result of this new pattern of thinking, your box expands, giving you a much larger telescope with which to view the world. With a larger vision, you can capitalize on numerous opportunities that did not exist in your smaller worldview. A bigger box doesn’t just affect you—it has a way of improving the lives of people you know and even those you don’t.

New ideas can enlarge your sphere of influence and transform your world. A single nugget of information combined with an existing concept can spark an empire. A seed planted from something you read in an enlightening, non-fiction book or in an elegantly written work of fiction can change all the rules. Something you notice in a magazine or see in a movie can start the launch sequence.

You may not know it when the idea invites itself into your psyche. This mystical creature may percolate in the inner tomb of your mind, dancing aimlessly for endless hours in a room of normalcy … until it’s his time to be heard. Or the idea can collide with you, sending an electrical torpedo through your nervous system and out the top of your head. You are fully aware when these thoughts strike because they have a way of keeping you up at night (whether you want them to or not.) The application of this idea may be presently unknown, but you’re certain things will never be the same again.

Either way, when this occurs your box is forever expanded. You can’t go back. And why would you? You can now handle a level of problems that was once incomprehensible. The more your box grows, the easier it is for you to tackle any challenge.

How do you expand your box? With a beginner’s mind, continually ask questions and seek out the answers. (And remember to avoid the single, most deadly phrase: I don’t know.)

The ultimate box—the universe—is expanding at the speed of light. How fast are you growing?

Happy Journeys!
Scott Jeffrey


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