We’ve all heard the expression think outside the box. It typically is used as a way to describe trying something new, getting un-stuck or breaking out of a rut. It’s figurative.
Literally, though, let’s think about that box. When you purchase something, it’s typically in a box. Why? To protect it, to keep it from breaking, getting scratched or damaged. But the something is useless when it’s still in the box, isn’t it? So, after getting it home, we take it out of the box … and then what happens? It gets scratched, worn, and maybe even damaged or broken. But it’s getting used and it’s presumably useful.
When it’s still in the box, it’s useless.
So thinking outside the box is really a way of being that is useful. While staying in the box is safe, protected, not capable of being damaged … and useless.
Forrest Gump wasn’t considered to be a deep thinker. His thinking was simple and practical, and perhaps surprisingly, way outside the box. More importantly, his actions were outside the box.
Here are 3 examples of how Forrest’s choices and actions took him outside the box and into the world of opportunities:
1. Joining the Army
At Forrest’s college graduation ceremony, he had no idea what was next for him. A recruiter suggests he join the army, and the next scene has him on a bus heading for boot camp. Four years ago I moved from California to Montana; the decision was a few years in the making but ultimately I just decided to do it. For me, it was a game changing circumstance.
My guess is that at the end of most of our lives, there will only 4 or 5 game changing decisions … maybe marriage, starting a business, joining the military, birth of a grandchild, joining a certain company, moving to a new place, etc. Staying safely in your box is not a game changer. Getting on the bus to join the army or moving to a new state is acting outside of your box.
2. Shrimp Boat Captain
Forrest Gump was probably never on a shrimp boat a single time in his life until he purchased his own. All he knew about shrimpin’ was what Bubba had told him … in other words, he didn.t know anything about shrimpin’. But what happened? He worked hard, failed, got scratched and bruised … but never broke. Most careers start the same way; you don’t know what you’re doing at first, you get bruised and damaged, and then with the bumps comes learning … and success. Starting something brand new is always out of the box acting. It’s hard work in which you get scraped and bruised, and ultimately from which the most satisfaction occurs.
3. “One day I decided to go for a little run”
We remember the scene when Forrest was sitting on the front porch contemplating life and the losses he suffered: Bubba was dead; Mama was dead; and Jenny had disappeared again. Forrest stood, put his hat on his head, walked down the front steps and then decided to go for a little run. His run took him first through town, then the county, the State of Alabama and all the way to the ocean … 4 times! A journey that started from a simple thought and first step, it took 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours.
It seems to me that staying in the box is safe, protected and not very useful. Getting outside the box is scary, potentially dangerous and where all the action occurs.
What box have you been safely hiding within? What useful contribution to the world are you capable of making when you step outside of your box?
Next Blog title: Make shrewd Choices
Next Blog date: October 18, 2010