Recently I overheard a conversation that was based on what I call, ‘in the box thinking’. My definition of ‘In the box thinking’ is expecting an outcome to materialize according to what you think should happen, or even what a popular belief would think should happen. Really it’s kind of like wanting something to happen because that’s what others would expect too. This happens a lot. I think it happens a lot.
My question is, when in life does life take the course we think it will? Or when does a plan ever go exactly as it was designed? Better yet, absent of our own thoughts, research, or informed conviction, we expect events to turn out the way everyone else would think they should. Isn’t that like taking a spot in your thought process and allowing society to dictate what belongs there? It would be similar to complaining adamantly about who was voted in as our President without voting yourself. I know that I have thought, or not thought this way myself, and I am sure I still do at times. Why, though? Why would any of us do this? Are we afraid to ask questions? Are we afraid of what the answers might be? Are we shy, or too busy to really look into that thing? Probably a little bit of all the above. So, how can we be upset or push back when things turn out differently, since we allowed society to replace our thought process, than we expected?
If the ‘box’ is what popular opinion would suggest, or just ‘the way we always did it’, then we need to get outside that box. I am not saying tradition or history don’t have their place, not at all. I am saying that if we expect the answers to be the same as they always were, or in the same order, then we are in for some surprises and disappointment. Principles stay the same. Values should stay the same. The right answers don’t change either, really, the questions and the order of the answers are changing all the time.
Basically, life is really lived outside the box. We all probably could not begin to count the number of times we said something like, “I never thought that would have happened”, or “I never thought I would be in this situation”. It happens all the time. Priorities change. Times change. Needs change. Sometimes there is no right answer when it comes to what you and I might think, or even what popular belief might say. Not to mention the fact that, who ever said we each needed all the right answers? As long as someone in the situation has the right answer, it doesn’t have to be us.
So, if someone does something in a way that you wouldn’t have, or if something doesn’t go the way you would have thought it should, don’t sweat it. Think outside the box, let things go as they may, sometimes that is the best answer. Sometimes finding our own way, or discovering ourselves, the how and who we are, happens in a way that none of us would have planned. But it still happens. Outside the box it happens. Don’t get all bent out of shape over what could have or should have been , but think outside the box as to what is and what can be.
I remember a statistic from many years ago that the average American millionaire had quit school by age 16. I don’t know if that is still accurate or not. I think it’s interesting that while many of us were struggling to find the motivation to go to school, others quit school and went to work. They did the work, the did the innovating, they made the millions. Now I am not saying there’s anything wrong with school or an education. Knowledge is power. There are people who did leave their education at a young age, went out and worked, undoubtedly developed a specific knowledge, and perfected it. I would be willing to bet that very few, if any, of these individuals followed ‘in the box thinking’ for themselves or for their parents. I know it’s not for everyone, which is exactly why people, situations, generations, shouldn’t be painted with a broad brush, that’s ‘in the box thinking’.
While people are stuck figuring it out, frustrated with results they can’t control, or worrying themselves sick over what they or society, think should be done, I would rather be thinking outside the box and figuring out the best way to get the results that are needed. You don’t have to be told how everything should go, sometimes it’s OK to figure it out yourself. Think for yourself. Think outside the box.