If you change the way you see things, the things you see will change.

Have you ever had someone tell you to “think outside the box?” I am going to be candid and completely honest with you. This kind of business-speak makes me nauseous. I don’t recommend any of my clients use it. As part of my business coaching, I frequently review my clients’ resumes. Sometimes a horrible cliche such as this will show up in their objective or skills description, and I immediately have them remove it. What does thinking outside the box mean, anyway? Too many think that it just means coming up with creative ideas or thinking more expansively. I suppose it could, but the way we use it today is has very little meaning and communicates nothing. In fact, I would say that 75-85% of people have no idea what “think outside the box” really means. So if we don’t know what it means, and yet this is what’s being requested of us, what do we do?

In order to think outside the box, or have breakthrough results, we have to first know what it looks like inside the box. What are our current constraints? What kinds of limitations does the past impose on us? Has a solution always looked a certain way? Do our bosses, friends, relatives, church leaders or mentors expect us to behave a certain way? What are the rules? We must distinguish as much as we can about how things are presently — or how it looks inside the box — before we can start thinking outside of it.

After we’ve clearly identified how things are right now, then we can start looking at things differently. We might see that some of the constraints we are dealing with are outmoded rules that we simply have accepted as inflexible and unmoving. I don’t know what it might be for you — it’s different for everyone. Let me tell you a breakthrough that I had while using this process. While building my coaching and counseling business, I initially saw all other coaches and counselors as competition. I had no interest in working with them, because I thought we were fighting for the same piece of the pie. Then, I distinguished what was going on for me: I was using an old business model of competition. When I saw this, I thought, how would I need to view this in order for my colleagues to appear as helpers instead of threats?

Suddenly, I chose to see my “competitors” as collaborators and change-makers in a world that was thirsty for transformation. As soon as I did this, I found hundreds of people eager to assist in growing my practice, as I helped them grow theirs. (Turns out, incidentally, that there are far too few coaches and counselors! There’s no scarcity of clients at all!)

Wayne Dyer puts it best: “Change the way you see things, and the things you see will change.” Try it out! You might be surprised at what opens up for you.

I’d love to hear your results. Shoot me an e-mail at jeremy@jeremydavidsavage.com. What changes for you as you change the way you look at things?

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Jeremy Savage, MA, LPC

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