The Importance of Thinking Outside the Box

Rules. Standards. Doing things the way they’ve ‘always been done.’ There are good reasons to rely on and follow these things, but we often forget that they all originated somewhere. There is an inherent danger for a freelancer who only ever strives to maintain the status quo and stick to proven methods, and this choice can not only impact the freelancer’s future but also has the potential to affect countless others.

In this post, we will look at how stepping outside of the norm and doing things differently could be the best possible approach for modern day freelancers.

Who Built the Box?

The fact is that no matter what standards we typically adhere to, they all had to originate somewhere and relevant society had to accept and crown them as the popular or proven. Someone somewhere sometime built the box that we now find ourselves inside. I have read so many articles, books and blog posts telling us how we should do things, which rules to follow and what steps we must take in order to succeed in a variety of fields, and I have even written some myself. Yet, doesn’t it stand to reason that if no one ever questioned, contributed to or resisted the popular or proven method of operation we would not have the evolution of so many things that we have today?

Some might argue that technology and other features of our modern lives should be considered detrimental to society rather than progressive evolution. Still, one cannot help but realize that most growth is brought on by challenge, adversity and change. If all we ever did was allow a chosen few to dictate the way things should be, we quite possibly would still be living in the Stone Age.

Rules are made to be broken. Boxes are confining. The clinical definition of death is something that does not change or grow.

The bottom line is, in my opinion, that every single human being is constantly faced with the choice of accepting the boundaries of the box we find ourselves in or stepping outside it and contributing to the creation of a living, breathing, ever-expanding organism that we can function productively within and beyond.

Is Your Brain Being Boxed In?

Take a look at your surroundings. What are you doing in your life, your family and/or your work that is uniquely yours? What rules have you consciously or unconsciously adopted as your own, nailing them to your life’s wall and making sure to religiously follow without question or individual thought? Is your unique and personal potential being completely fulfilled within the various contexts of your life? Are you moving toward your dreams for your life, or just making a living and managing to stay afloat?

If you are able to answer these questions with the confidence of one who is living a life of challenges, growth, and questioning the status quo, then I congratulate you! However, if you cannot remember the last time you stepped outside of your safety zone, why not rattle your own cage a little bit and begin working toward bending the bars to set yourself free?

You Have a Responsibility to Break the Box

Without getting too philosophical, I want to suggest to you that you have a unique contribution to society that only you can give. Should you choose to settle into the shoes of a follower and fail to find your own personal thread in the fabric of humankind that is born from the fulfilling of this responsibility, not only will you miss out on the life that could have been, but everyone else who would have been impacted by your contribution will never feel the tremor that is yours.

For me, that thought alone is enough motivation.

What if the long list of explorers, leaders, inventors, scientists, and more who have each stepped outside the box to bring their own unique influence and ideas never did? What if all of history had never been touched by the bravery and radical choices of those who opened up their minds to the possibilities of new and different things? The concept is mind-boggling.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your contribution, your uniqueness, is not important enough to pursue, either. For every historic icon, for every hero, for every name that rings of greatness, there are hundreds of thousands who made their own contribution that, while it significantly impacted our society, we will never know by name.

Fame is not the point. The point is to live your own life to its fullest potential and settle for nothing less. If everyone did this, instead of just a small percentage of humanity, I believe our world and our society would be radically different. You and I cannot look to others to change our lives and the world around us. We must look within ourselves and determine to be the best possible you and I we can be.

Box Breaking for Freelancers

So whether you are a freelance writer, artist, designer, developer, entrepreneur or any other occupation, I challenge you today to spend some time in self-evaluation. What boxes are you living in without ever questioning? What boxes have you let others build for and around you? What boxes have you never considered thinking outside of?

Challenge yourself and those around you to think outside the box. It’s important. Possibly more important than any of us will ever know.

Your Turn

Do you feel that you have broken free from some of the rules that box you in? Do you agree or disagree with the philosophy presented here? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments.

Image by CRASHCandy