Thinking INSIDE The Box


For over thirty-years we’ve been hearing the same old cliché, “Think outside the box”.  I say cliché because that’s exactly what this mantra has become.

We continually hear this resounding statement as if it’s some sort of new found epiphany.  It’s touted at sales meetings, brainstorming sessions, workshops, management gatherings, classrooms, PTA meetings, yada, yada, yada.  It’s become so overused that it’s been relegated to the level of a meaningless, un?motivational cliché.

People who say, Think Outside The Box, are themselves stuck in the confines of a single box and trying to escape.  If they weren’t, they would not continue referencing the same overused line.  I understand this adage is symbolic, but at its core it’s sending the wrong message.  It assumes that boxes are a bad thing and that you need to escape from within in order to be creative.


I say, “Think INSIDE the box.”  Heck, we do it anyway. It’s human nature. The proof is in the fact that we haven’t been able to get out of this metaphorical box for decades.  If we could, we would not STILL be trying to think outside of the same damn box.  You with me?

Celebrate the box.  But instead of just a single box, let’s start thinking inside of an unlimited number of boxes!  Use this freedom to put everything inside of a whole bunch of boxes – gigantic boxes, tiny boxes, wooden boxes, cardboard boxes, boxes that shrink or expand, decorated boxes, square boxes, odd shaped boxes, bento boxes, even sand boxes (they’re fun to play in).  Boxes are a good thing, as long as you keep track of your boxes and never lose any of them.

Organize your boxes so that you can find them when you need to. Have boxes for your thoughts, projects, ideas, dreams, feelings, inspirations, insights, experiences.  Store these boxes on figurative shelves so they’re easily found.  This way you can open up just the right box whenever you need it or want to add more stuff inside. Cherish your boxes.  Jump inside and think of them as your cozy home. Treat them with reverence and respect.

Boxes should be essential to expanding your creativity, not something to break out of.  Yes, thinking INSIDE the box is actually critical for gaining personal and creative growth and should never be taken for granted.  The secret is to have an infinite number of boxes.

It’s important to go through your boxes occasionally. Dust them off, open them up and remind yourself of why you put that, whatever it is, inside your box in the first place.  Sometimes a box may have something in it that needs to mature or grow.  Nourish these boxes so that, when the time might be right, they’re ready to be opened and it’s contents let out into the world.

You can also combine your boxes or share your boxes with other peoples’ boxes.  Of course, you guessed it, this will create more boxes.  Rejoice in the fact that you have lots of boxes.  Don’t try to escape from them.  Think INSIDE The Box.  Boxes are good – really, really good.

3 thoughts on “Thinking INSIDE The Box”

  1. Rick

    Agree about thinking “Inside the Box”, from a literal point-of-view, as when an Online Retailer or Catalogers includes a surprise inside their merchandise box that they ship via FedEx or UPS, to their prized customer and that customer receives a little something extra in that box, that has a direct corellation to the lifestyle of the typical buyer of that site….their “opening the box” experience is brought to a whole new level of positiveness.

    Think – a sample of “Tom's of Maine Toothpaste sample in a package delivered from LL Bean” or a “Nexxus shampoo sample in a package from“. The Online Retailers love it, the Brand's love it as it's so targeted and guaranteed to be delivered & seen, but most importantly, the consumers love it.

    And that is a literal example of “Thinking Inside the Box”, even if this wasn't what you/Rick meant by the title.

    If you'd like to see which Online Retailers/Catalogers are a perfect match for your brand, from our 400+ titles, just let me know.

    Doug Guyer – The Catalog Package Sampling Program

    1. Okay Doug, In your case, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BOX! With that said, you guys have some innovative boxes. Keep up the great work.

  2. Howard Barnett

    This is really cool. I don’t know what “bento” boxes are, but there’s quite a valuable concept offered and developed in the paragraphs that follow where they’re mentioned. Thanks for writing this my friend from days of old.

    Howard Barnett
    …couldn’t seem to sign in Rick, so have to post as a guest I guess.
    Really good concept, i like it a lot, (except for me, maybe I’ll limit the boxes , still got real boxes from last move…

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