7 Ways to Think out of the Box

Any presentation starts with an idea. But a great presentation starts with a great idea.

Unfortunately nowadays, we tend to rely too much on the internet or TV for so-called “great ideas”. Moreover, the pervasiveness of smartphones and informational sites often keep us from really thinking. Simply put, we’re just too busy to think, much less think out of the box. Instead, we’re running from one place to another, busy multitasking, trying to get things running and tasks completed.

Yet despite the scarcity of thinking outside the box, its importance remains (probably even more these days). If you think about it, your business needs this kind of lateral thinking today to get ahead of the race. To bring out creativity and innovations in your presentations, you also need to think out of the box.

Here are 7 ways you can break free from the traditional ways of doing things and start thinking outside the box:

Stop and listen.

We’re often too preoccupied with the daily doings of life that we lose our focus or focus on unnecessary, minor things which prevent us from thinking. Just take a few moments daily to stop and think. Start by silencing your mind with meditation. As you quiet your mind, you can see beyond your usual assumptions as well as what you took for granted. When interacting with others, keep in mind that you have 2 ears and only one mouth for a reason: to actively listen.

Discover connections.

To think, you need to gather knowledge and insights by reading or researching. But to think out of the box, you need to recognize themes as they arise. Up until such a time that you develop an instinct to recognize patterns. One way of doing this brings us to the next tip…

Explore various subjects and interests.

While specialization is great for excelling in your field or business, it also creates a barrier to lateral thinking. Go beyond your usual books or hobbies. Try new subjects or ideas and find other sources where you can be passionate about. If you like watching sports, switch to the business channel. If you’re into cars, read about real estate.

Question assumptions, even the obvious ones.

Intellectual shortcuts only breed laziness in thinking. Think about the basis of your ideas and theories. Don’t let others do the thinking for you; start asking why. Why can’t we do this instead? Why is this important? Why are we doing this? Be like inquisitive kids again and keep asking.

Ask, “what if?”

Equally important to asking “why” is asking “what if”. Hypothesizing triggers the creative part of your mind. You learn about different viewpoints on a subject and it helps you to think about other possible angles or alternative solutions.

Surround yourself with “out of the box thinkers”.

Whoever coined the phrase “show me who your friends are and I’ll show you who you are” knows what he’s talking about. Conversing and spending quality time with intellectually curious individuals get your brain thinking. Moreover, you learn and emulate certain habits from them that prompt lateral thinking. This implies spending less time with people “in the box” or those who you may be comfortable with but don’t do much to stimulate you intellectually.

Overcome your fear of failure.

This can include being prepared to abandon ideas you love or beliefs you hold strongly. Once you’re able to do these, you’re bolder to take risks, more welcome to accept chaos and even to some extent, enjoy it. These all focus your attention to change and a different way of thinking.

Most if not all of the ways to think out of the box demand doing what is uncomfortable; essentially, thinking out of the box is really moving out of your comfort zone. You need to realize what this box is and understand what keeps you from thinking outside it. Most of the time, these are invisible, deeply held, unexamined beliefs and assumptions. Once you’re out of it, you can realize that so many possibilities have been limited by this “box” and not necessarily by your ability.

What are other ways you can train yourself to think out of the box?