Thinking Inside The Box

Serious guitar players will spend countless hours meticulously practicing scales. Major, Minor, Whole tone, modes, the list goes on and on. It’s some of the most boring work imaginable, and no one listens to music of people playing scales. Playing scales is not something that anyone wants to do, and it’s not a treat for anyone’s ears either. So why the heck to guitar players spend so much time on it?

Because they know the value of thinking inside the box. Not outside the box…inside. There’s a lot of value there.

You’ve grown up thinking the box is something to be transcended. I have a different message for you.

There’s nothing wrong with the box. The box is your friend.

We’ve been trained to “think outside the box”. There’s a lot of value in that too. But it’s become a religion. It’s become virtuous to think outside the box. And that must mean that anything inside the box is something to be avoided. Not true.

The fact is if there were no box at all, we couldn’t think outside it. The entire point of thinking outside the box is to bring more value to the box. It means that thinking outside the box is worthless unless you’re able to take what you learn and APPLY it inside the box.

What is this damn box anyway?

A box is just another name for a system. The way you get leads. The process you use to create content for your blog. The method you use to follow up and convert interested prospects into paying customers. These are all systems. They’re all boxes. And they all need optimized from time to time.

A lot of times, thinking outside the box can help you to come up with creative new solutions. But it’s not always necessary to reinvent the wheel or come up with some grandiose new plan for conquering the world. A lot of times…dare I say MOST ¬†of the time, thinking inside the box is what’s needed.

The value of thinking inside the box

Thinking inside the box actually requires a bit more discipline. It requires working with the tools you already have. It is an exercise in minimalism, and it requires you to take stock of everything you have at your disposal and make sure you’re getting the highest and best use out of everything.

A skilled guitar player can take the most basic scale…one you’ve heard millions of times before…and create sounds you’ve never heard before. The musical tones we’re mostly accustomed to hearing are very few. There’s only twelve notes. When it comes to music, that’s our box. Everyone has the same tools to work with, yet we’ve continued to produce more and more original music, one generation after another.

The box does not hinder you. It provides the essential framework you need to produce anything of recognizable value to others.

The danger of not thinking inside the box

As a marketing consultant, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to being able to see inside a lot of small business operations. I get to see how people make things happen, and I always feel I learn as much as I’m able to teach.

One thing I’ve seen over and over is small business owners with stacks of systems they never use. Their credit card is being charged every month for websites and systems of various types, and they’re not even being used. How does this happen?

They go to a conference and get inspired by someone teaching them to think outside the box. They learn a new idea or come across a new system for something. So they acquire it, but they haven’t first cleaned house with their existing systems.

Until you have your house in order, adding more and more systems to the mix is just a small business equivalent to hoarding.

We collect systems, but we don’t optimize any of them. We don’t truly use anything to it’s maximum potential, because we’re so focused on thinking outside the box that we completely overlook that we ALREADY have everything we need to achieve our goals right in front of us. If we’d just use it.



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