One day at work, during our weekly meeting, the topic of discussion was overcoming objections in sales. The term “thinking outside the box” was brought up by the Regional Director, as he drew a square on the dry-erase-board. He asked us if we knew where the phrase “Think outside the box” came from. It turns out that it came from the concept of people having four main factors in their lives that governed their lives, those very same factors being the source of their objections to buying a product or service. Those four factors, be they family, finances, religion, occupation, schedules, lifestyles, biases, personalities, etc, make up the four walls of a square, or box. That very box confines them and prevents them from making or taking changes, risks, new directions, challenges, etc. So in order to get past those four main objections or life factors, or the fore mentioned confining four walls, the motivating salesperson needed to think of a way to get past the restraining sides of the box, and in effect, think outside of the box without the sides of the box affecting their thinking. In other words, enable the client to think past his or her objections without being biased by the sides of the box which were the source of their objections.
The RD told us that the best way to overcome the client’s confining box is to not create the box to begin with, as in not to enter the room agreeing with or fearing what their objections may be. That is all well and good in business, and I agree with that, but hindsight is 20-20. In life, most of us already have our boxes in place; our walls are up around us confining us, so it’s too late to say what we should not have created the box from the start in our lives.
As our big chief was discussing all of that, my ADD kicked in and I began thinking about the principle of thinking outside the box and how in our very lives and dreams, the four aspects of our lives, the four walls, the main objections, so often come into play. What follows are my own thoughts:
I can’t take that new step in life because:
“I have to take the kids to their game three nights a week, and Cub Scout events, and…”
“My husband will laugh at me if I tell him about my lifelong dream…”
“I have my bowling league, my lodge meeting…”
I just can’t motivate myself to do it, what with all the other things I have to do during the day…”
“I don’t want to embark on another project that I probably won’t get to finish…”
We do not try new things because we are boxed in by memories of past failures, present hectic schedules, and future perceived problems or expected events. Our objections to change, to fulfilling goals, to reaching higher, get in the way of our inner desires to do more with out lives. Our four walls that hold us back from fulfilling dreams or simply enjoying new hobbies may be responsibilities to or time required by family and occupation; and personal restraints such as insecurities and fear of change. The thing that we must do, by thinking outside the box, is find a way to get out of the confining box; get over the wall, or go right through it if need be. By thinking outside the box, we must determine a means to scale the wall or diminish its mass so that going through it will become easier.
But wait…before we go to such lengths to overcome the walls, we need to ask ourselves, is the wall really there? Who built that wall? Oh…we did, we built it. But only in our minds, our psyche, did we build it? It is time to realize that the wall of our emotional perception is not really there. Did we imagine the wall to be there because we sensed something holding us back, something that could only be explained by the presence of such a wall? Or did we fabricate the wall to justify being held back, because we were too afraid to move past it?
So now that we realize that the wall is not really there, why haven’t we left the confining room? Why are we still in the box? Why aren’t we thinking outside of the box yet?
Those fleas sure can jump.
Fleas have the greatest jumping strength, proportionate to their size, of any living creature. Several years ago I attended a four-day self-help seminar called the Landmark Forum in Action. It was there that the speaker told me and about 399 other people that there had been a science experiment where scientists put several fleas in a jar and covered it to observe the fleas’ activities. They watched as the fleas jumped up multiple times to get out of the jar, only to bang themselves on the lid and fall back down, defeated. The lid remained secured on the jar for some time. How long, I do not recall from the story whether it was hours or days. What I do remember is that when the scientists finally removed the lid from the jar, that the fleas continued to jump as if to leap out of the now open jar, but yet fell short of escaping; that they jumped only as high as the confining lid had been before it was removed and no higher. The fleas, convinced that defeat would halt their efforts, would not jump high enough to clear the jar’s edge, while yet escape was easily within their means. They would have made it, if only they weren’t convinced that the lid was still holding them back, if only they had learned to think outside the jar.
The fleas thought the lid was on the jar. They thought that they couldn’t go anywhere, that all leaps led to nowhere. And sometimes, perhaps all of the time, we think that too. But just where is “nowhere”? Nowhere is a location that exists only in our mind. We create it in convincing ourselves that we are indeed headed for the perceived place known as “nowhere”, but in fact “nowhere” has paths to “somewhere” branching off to all directions. “Nowhere” is but the starting point, from which the multiple paths to ‘everywhere’ begin.
I say that in life there are no obstacles, only speed bumps. They can slow you down, but they cannot stop you. Remember, the walls are not really there. They are but elements of your subconscious, so think outside the box, use your imagination, and step over them.
Nike says to “Just do it”.
I say, “Just shine.”
Well why don’t you?
What are the four walls in your life that are confining you?
When are you going to see that the walls are no longer there?
When are you going to feel that the walls never were there?
What is preventing you from leaping out of the jar?
When are you going to realize that the lid is not on the jar?
Why don’t you think outside of the box?
On your mark, get set…
Are you ready?