The Thinking Box: Are you in or out?

Have you noticed that quite often we receive conflicting messages on just what it is we are supposed to do to live a fulfilled life? We are told to think “outside the box” and to step “outside of our comfort zone”. Both are valid and in many cases, sound advice. But we’re also told to listen “to our inner voice” and to play “to our strengths”. Again, both are valid principals and quite frankly, sound advice. The question becomes how we know when we should be “inside” and when we should be going “outside”. From my experience, the best results come when we consider both. The key however is to start within.

As a life coach, one of the places I see people struggle is recognizing who they are and the gifts that are already theirs to claim. There is great pressure to look outward and to go immediately to thinking “outside the box” in pursuit of a “better you”. So much so that we forget to examine “inside the box” first and see what we may already have within our grasp that can be used to propel us into our true purpose.

One of my favorite exercises we go through is an inventory of knowledge and skills. The challenge is to take your age and come up with at least that many items of knowledge or skill that you have demonstrated in the course of your life. The first half is typically very easy for us to record. The next group might take some thought but we can typically come up with it. It’s that last group of 15 – 25% that seems to stump us. Want to know a coaching insider secret? In almost every case, the real gems come from that group.

Since this pattern proved out time and time again, it intrigued me. I began to look deeper at why this might be true. It seems that what we have most enjoyed in life about ourselves we tend to think of as less important because it may not be associated with our professional life and endeavors. We operate from the misconception that what we most enjoy is a sideline or hobby, something we do just for fun. In truth, quite often it could become more central in our life, even be the secret ingredient for creating our most purpose-driven work.

When we start from where we are with the idea that we already have abundance within ourselves, exploring “inside the box” takes on new meaning.

What about you? If you are dissatisfied with your life, perhaps it’s because you’re focusing on what you don’t have – what is “outside your box”. Try a new approach. Take inventory “inside your box”. Re-focus on what you have and what it can mean to you for building a richer, more satisfying life.

Of this I am certain: You will be amazed at what you will find. You are going to love what you find “inside your box”. You are going to find some incredible gifts just waiting to be opened.


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