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January 2007 BulletProof Success Coaching
  Seem like you're in and out of the same old boxes?
How To Avoid The “Out-of-the-Box” Box
Paul W. Anderson   If It Feels Safe and Comfy, You Haven't Changed. box
“Out-of-the-box” thinking has become its own box. What was once considered creative and imaginative leadership runs the risk these days of being trite, trendy and anything but visionary.

“Fast Company” magazine reported that the New York Times alone last year used the “out-of-the-box” phrase last year every nine days. My recent “Googling” of the phrase yielded over a 1000 personal and executive coaches who describe their coaching as an “out-of-the-box” process. When a novel idea becomes a cliché it is by definition no longer a novel or “out-of-the-box” idea. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get coached out of one box and into another and not know it until it’s too late.

Everyone has limits and boundaries to their thinking. When some one shows us a solution to surpassing one of our boundaries, we have an “ahaa” experience. Why didn’t we think of that? We call the person creative. Others can always see aspects of our situations we cannot see because they are more objective than we are about us and our situation or box.

Solve this: a son and his father are in a car accident. The father is left at the scene dead while the son, badly injured, is rushed to the emergency room. In the ER, the doctor takes one look at the boy and says, “Oh, my son!” How is that possible? Clue: women can be doctors as well as men. Some forget that when trying to solve this riddle.

On May 1st this year, Mr. T. J. Bowers walked into an Ohio bank and gave a teller a stickup note. He received four $20 bills and promptly handed then to the security guard. For this bank robbery, Mr. Bowers received a three year prison sentence and a solution to his dilemma.

He was 63 and had lost his job. He told the judge that with only minimum-wage jobs available to him and no health care benefits, he preferred to spend the time in prison which would get him to age 66 when he would be able to draw on social security and Medicare benefits. According to Mr. Bowers’ attorney, he is neither dim, unbalanced or a dummy in anyway. Rather, some financial gurus have called him a visionary who found himself an “out-of-the-box” financial and retirement plan, albeit, certainly “in-the-can”.

Creative thinking can be taught and learned. However, even creative thinkers reach their limits and get stuck in situations that seem for them to have no way out. If you ask a trained intellect to help you with a dilemma and they give you a suggestion, say thank you and think it over very carefully. The more crazy, risky and off-the-wall it may seem to you, the more you should consider using it.

The proof-positive of a genuine “out-of-the-box” solution is that it does not feel safe. If it does seem safe, reasonable and within your zone of comfort, beware. You may be caught in the “out-of-the-box” box, which is simply more of the same old stuff.

Now It's Your Turn
You've heard from me, had some of my thoughts. I'd like to hear from you. What are your concerns about coaching? Do you have questions about how coaching can help you and/or your company? What topics are of interest to you in future newsletters?
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