Success is the Willingness to Step Out-Of-The-Box

by May 30, 2019

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Actor Ashton Kutcher once said, “I’m continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you’re uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.”

Oh, by the way, did you notice that Samsung came out with the new Samsung Galaxy Fold? In their promotional material they state with boldness that the Fold is “A device unlike any before. Galaxy Fold doesn’t just define a new category, it defies category. Today, we introduce the biggest breakthrough since the mobile phone. Today, the future unfolds with Galaxy Fold.” Almost immediately it experienced problems that had not been anticipated. However, even though Samsung is being challenged by one of its biggest problems in recent history, the technology is also an exciting innovation that other companies want. The competition is watching!

The Fold is a concept that is a result of “thinking outside-of-the-box.” In traditional terms, it is thinking creatively, freely, and off the beaten path. It’s the kind of thinking that, in an age of increasingly powerful algorithms and neural networks, garners significant attention. It is what led us to Apple, to Amazon, and to Netflix. And, it requires being uncomfortable — and taking risks.

When we find something that works, we go down that path because it is comfortable.  We may massage it, polish the corners of it, or chip away at its edges, as long as we can stay “comfortable.” In today’s fast-moving business world, while we may stay comfortable, our competition is capitalizing on our comfortableness. They are thinking out-of-the-box for one good reason, to be #1 — to capture a bigger share of the market, to make more money, to be cited as the innovators, to put your company out of business. While you are comfortable, they are uncomfortable.

What makes them different? Unlike most of us who are in a box and don’t see the walls of it, they not only see these walls but are prepared to tear them down. As President Reagan said in the speech he made in West Berlin on Friday, June 12, 1987, calling for the General Secretary of the Communist Party to open up the barrier which had divided West and East Berlin, “Tear down this wall,” entrepreneurs and business leaders must recognize the walls they need to tear down in order to enter the new era of competition. We need to become more uncomfortable to bring forth new and creative ways to be more successful at what we do.

So what is it that keeps us from breaking down these walls? What keeps us from “thinking” out-of-the-box? And then what is it that keeps us from making the choice to actually “step” out-of-that-box?

In their book, Play to Win, Larry and Hersch Wilson present psychologist, Maxie Maultsby’s concept of the Four Fatal Fears: 

  • The fear of failure; therefore, I must succeed.
  • The fear rejection; therefore, I need to be accepted.
  • The fear of being emotionally uncomfortable; therefore, I need to be comfortable.
  • The fear being wrong or looking wrong; therefore, I need to be right.

Could it be that one or more of these fears is what may keep us from tearing down the walls of the box that we are in? Could the stories in our head that we have created also have created the walls that make up the box?

Larry and Hersch Wilson suggest that these fears will lead to intellectual, emotional, and spiritual death if they remain unconquered. And Maultsby believes these fears impede our ability to interact effectively with others and take relevant action. These fears can not only immobilize us, but also immobilize an entire organization, including creativity and taking action. And most often, these fears are grounded in stories that we tell ourselves based on past experiences, beliefs, and what we have been told by others.

The stories are the blocks of the walls. The mortar between blocks is what we have been told, what we have experienced, and the beliefs that we have surrounded ourselves with. So, we alone have built the walls of the box. Once we recognize that it is we that have built the box, we can then make the choice to tear the walls down.

Recognizing that we ourselves have created the walls of the box that we are in, is the first step to thinking out-of-the-box. Once we think out-of-the-box, we can then take the steps to get out-of-the-box completely. While being outside of the box is uncomfortable, it is also empowering and invigorating. No longer are we bound by the stories we have told ourselves. We can now exceed our greatest limitations and take on the challenges that we once feared.

The greatest entrepreneurs and leaders of today are those who have made the choice to tear the walls down, to look and think over the rubble of those walls, and to step over it. Stepping out-of-the-box may be uncomfortable and uncertain — yet, it is the place of the greatest growth. To not step out-of-the-box is to deny ourselves and others of the greatness that we can bring, to restrict the creativity that we can share, and to hold back the success that we were meant to be.

In the song by Josh Groban for Cirque du Soleil he sings, “Let me fall. Let me climb. There’s a moment where fear and dream must collide.”

And as Deepak Chopra once said, “Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.” One way to get rid of the box is to simply tear it down to the rubble that it is… and that is a choice — your choice!

Somewhere in the halls of the research and development offices of Samsung, there is a creative person that stepped out-of-the-box. He or she stepped through the stories that a smartphone screen had to be rigid for it to work. In the real world, Samsung’s first generation of the Fold may have failed. But at least it may become the beginning of a new generation of smartphones, all because one person decided to step out-of-the-box.

“In order to step out-of-the-box, one has to think out-of-the-box. In order to think out-of-the-box, one has to recognize that they are in the box they created. That recognition is the real key choice which leads to success.” – Marshall Krupp


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