Although the jargon may be a bit overused, people who think outside the box are often labeled as innovators, a desirable unique in life & business. It’s easy và safe to lớn go with the flow, but leaders buck trends rather than follow them.

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Why is it hard to think outside the box?

We’ve all been in that meeting where the team was encouraged lớn “think outside the box.” The problem is that we’re creatures of habit and most of us prefer the comfort of familiar routines. Thinking outside the box can mean challenging long-held beliefs. It’s about answering “These are our best practices” not with a nod but with a raised eyebrow.

Companies often avoid risks that could have a negative effect on their profits, even when there are plenty of success stories khổng lồ illustrate that some risks not only pay off, they pay off big. Steve Jobs was fired by the board of directors of the company he founded. But later, after apple bought the NeXT operating system his team created, Jobs went on khổng lồ become the CEO of Apple & stocks rose 9,000 percent under his leadership.

Despite the chance for failure and rejection, risks are essential for growth on a personal & business level. Và yet, although we’re often told we should think outside the box, we’re rarely told how.

How khổng lồ Think Outside the Box

When you’re struggling to come up with fresh ideas, there are some simple tricks to lớn help you step out of your comfort zone & think in an innovative way.

1 Ask a child what they would do.

With their vivid imaginations, kids are natural innovators.

2 Simplify it.

If you think your problem is too complex for a child lớn understand, take some time khổng lồ figure out how to explain it simply. Richard Feynman, the late Nobel Laureate in physics, is attributed with saying, “If you can’t explain it to lớn a six-year-old, you don’t really understand it.” Sometimes the very act of figuring out how lớn explain a complex problem in simple terms results in an innovative solution.

3 Ask “What would I vì chưng differently if I were starting from scratch?”

Routine is the enemy of innovative thinking, but so is precedent. Sometimes, we struggle lớn shift away from the way we’ve always done things. Imagining a clean slate can help you change perspective and think outside the box.

4 Ask why.

Most of the pushback we get—whether from management, colleagues, or our own brains—comes with a simple phrase: “That’s how we’ve always done it.” We’re hardwired khổng lồ resist change, especially when what we’ve been doing has been working okay, if not spectacularly. When the routine is the roadblock, “why” is the battering ram. Asking “But why have we always done it that way?” can reveal flaws & make way for creative thinking.

5 Flex your brain muscles.

Psychology Today suggests a few surprising exercises that can get your brain unstuck when you’re trying to lớn think outside the box.

Alphabetize letters in words. Take any word (one you’re reading, or just thinking) & alphabetize the letters. So, the word B-R-A-I-N would become A-B-I-N-R.

What makes this mental gymnastics so terrifically boosting to lớn your brain is that you’re forced to lớn use all the information—all the letters—and totally rearrange it in your mind. Try this for five minutes a day, three days a week. Increase the amount of letters in the words you are alphabetizing as you get more proficient.

—Mike Byster, Psychology TodayLose the letter E. Challenge your friends to use words in conversation that don’t have the letter E (the most oft-used vowel in the English language) in them. It’s great work that will get you thinking in new directions.Add a series of one-digit numbers in your head . . . Fast. Quick! What’s 8+6+9+3+2+4+7?

6 Take a class.

Learning something new can help you look at the things you already know how to vày from a completely different angle.

7 Freewrite.

Freewriting is the act of picking a topic, setting a timer for a short amount of time, và writing as fast as you can without stopping lớn edit. It flows best if you do it with a pen and paper rather than on a computer. The timer adds some pressure lớn keep writing, forcing your brain lớn think creatively instead of conventionally.

8 Draw a picture.

You don’t have khổng lồ know how to lớn draw, just pick up whatever tools you have on hand (even crayons!) and tap into a completely different part of your brain. It can không lấy phí your thoughts.

9 Mindmap.

Write a word or phrase. Draw a circle around it. Draw a branch và a related word or phrase. Circle that. Repeat. The practice unlocks ideas. It looks like this.

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10 Take a walk.

A Stanford study revealed that walking frees your creativity both during the walk and for a short time after. Give it a try!