Thinking Outside The Box
How often do we hear people telling us to “think outside the box” to come up with new ideas or different ways of doing things? What on earth makes them imagine there is a box? I would hazard a guess that it’s because society has tried, from our childhood, to put us in a box.
Think of a baby. A baby doesn’t come pre-programmed, although at times it might be easier if they did! Every baby enters the world uniquely him, or her. That’s all they know how to be. And it’s beautiful. As they grow, their enthusiasm to learn and develop grows stronger.
The uniqueness of children becomes more apparent to me as they grow into toddler-hood. They explore every facet of their world with absolute enthusiasm. They are inquisitive of all things and aren’t afraid to test things out. In fact, it is the very lack of fear that often turns care-givers hair prematurely grey! And the simplest things can give the greatest satisfaction: picture the box the toy or appliance came in and how much that is played with. Or the painting that makes no sense to adults but is done with utmost vigor, concentration and delight by a child. Why do these little things capture them so totally? Because they have an untethered imagination and an endless thirst to be creative. That is how they learn.
Have you ever heard a child laugh with absolute abandon? One of those rolling belly laughs that is so contagious that all within hearing distance are compelled to laugh too. What joy bubbles out of them, sheer happiness. And they don’t decide that they are going to be happy, its simple, they either are, or they are not. Children seem to have an endless capacity for fun, and the energy to enjoy it.
The only boxes that they know are the ones to be played with, they have no knowledge of those that they will be forced into in the future. They are wonderfully individual and totally, uniquely, themselves.
And then they begin to grow up. They become conscious of the world around them. They are taught that they need to conform. To think in a certain way. To abide by rules. To adapt to other’s opinion of how a person should be.
When I was growing up we were sent to schools which, more often than not, prescribed how we should behave, what we should wear, the rules and regulations of school uniforms, hair length and styles, nail length, boy or girl. We were taught to think in a certain way, learn in a certain way, act in a certain way. Cloned.
Don’t get me wrong, much of this is needed. Without standards, rules and regulations being taught to us, the world would be a very undisciplined and dangerous place to live.
The world we find ourselves in now, doesn’t necessarily need the old-school way of thinking. The “in the box” thinking, trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
With our fast-developing world, where technology becomes outdated in the blink of an eye, where we are spoilt for choice. And the choice is available and accessible to everyone. What differentiates us? How do we prepare our children for a world where the jobs that will be available to them have not even been invented yet? How do we equip ourselves and them for a future that is not very distant?
I believe that we need to embrace these dynamics, the future of endless possibilities. Not just “think outside the box” but to break the box completely and throw the pieces away. Return to those wonderful qualities of our early childhood.
But how do we do that?
We need to re-energise, focus on our strengths and explore those things that we have been taught to be afraid of. Embrace our uniqueness, our beautiful diversity, encourage our creativity. Find something that we love doing so that we never have to work a day again in our lives. Have fun. Every day. Give back what we have learned. Pay it forward.
If we focus on that, we can lead our generation, our children and future generations into an amazing and exciting future where solutions are creatively explored and each new day is once again a wonderful adventure.