Deb Sofield

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Outside of the Box

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I was reading an article online last week and came across an interesting job interview question for one of my clients that dealt with thinking outside of the box.

I know you’ve heard that phrase over and over, so it is not new, but I wonder why so many seem to stay in their boxes instead of moving forward, sideward or upwards in life? Is it because they are so comfortable in the rut of sameness? Or have they ground their wheels so deep into the mud that they can never get out and go anywhere interesting?

You’re familiar with the famous quote by Einstein, “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.” This concept isn’t rocket science, but it does seem to be a bit out-of-reach for most people who prefer to play it safe in their small world filled with small things that feed their small mind instead of stretching beyond their comfort zone to the point of wide open pain and abandon then, maybe, success. It’s worth a shot isn’t it?

Undoubtedly, some of our most inquisitive entrepreneurs have the ability to see beyond the current space and darkness and have the optimistic strength of confidence to reach to find a sliver of light and create their achievements.

I am a fan of inquisitive entrepreneurs who do out of the box things and spend time on out of the box thinking, and I find their stories inspiring, so much so, that I have tried to mimic them in my work and hobbies–to go where no woman has gone before and do what no woman should probably do…safely. And, as I tell my friends and family, at this age, and in this uncertain life, if I’m going to go, I’m going to go big and enjoy the ride, because I can think of no good reason not to try, see, explore and discover. And I’ll add that, by living outside my box, I’ve got stories and memories to last me a lifetime. And I’m still not done!

How about you?

Yes, I know you have responsibilities, but I am also guessing that you are comfortable with your structured life because it’s…well, easy. And while that is fine for some, it is NOT for the rest of you.

In an upcoming newsletter (that I am still working on), my theme will be that many tired, bored and lonely people should consider letting go of whatever it is they are holding on to that is holding them back…because sometimes holding on does more damage than letting go.

Unfortunately, I believe that most people don’t trust themselves, or are not willing to do the work or take a favorable chance to create the dream they talk and talk and talk about. The truth is that the type of confidence required to tear down the box is unusual and rare in today’s structured, safe and comfortable world.

One person I have found who seems to be willing to do the work and take the calculated chance is Elon Musk. I love to watch what he is up to next, because I find him to be of an unusual intellect for today’s common man, and I am fascinated by the abandon with which he rushes into projects to win or fail fast before he moves onto the next big idea.

I loved reading an article that I found in the New York Times. It’s about Musk’s ex-wife, Justine Musk. I am posting it here and I encourage you to read it.

“When a Quora user, a user-generated question-and-answer website, posed the question: ‘How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?’ an unlikely individual [Ms. Musk] responded, quietly offering some telling insights. She boiled down the one ingredient for extreme success: ‘Be obsessed. Be obsessed. Be obsessed.’ But Ms. Musk wasn’t being critical. ‘Extreme people combine brilliance and talent with an *insane* work ethic,’ she wrote, ‘so if the work itself doesn’t drive you, you will burn out or fall by the wayside or your extreme competitors will crush you and make you cry.’”

Be obsessed. I am not sure I know many people who are obsessed with anything. We seem to be happy to play in our little box and some even pull the lid down on their box so they can cocoon, instead of molt and fly away to see new sights and do new things and experience life in all its glorious, messy, breathtaking fullness.

Cue the music for my all time most favorite song, Sailing by Christopher Cross.

Friend…Just Do Something.

Okay, so I want to stick with the idea of thinking outside the box to be the level that will help you realize that you have choices in life and that it is a great gift of free will, but you’ve got to do something to make something happen, otherwise tomorrow will look a lot like today and the next day and the next.

So, as I mentioned earlier, I was working on some interview questions for a client and I came across this story. It might be known to some of my readers, but for those who have not seen this exchange, I invite you to read the story and then read the answer that supposedly was the answer that landed the guy the job out of 200 applicants. This question was also posed in the movie 16 Blocks, featuring Bruce Willis and Mos Def. This is the ultimate thinking out of the box question!

Job interview question about three people at a bus stop:

The Setup: You’re driving down the road in your car on a wild and stormy night. The weather is like a hurricane with heavy rains, high winds, and lightning flashing constantly. While driving, you come across a partially covered bus stop, and you can see three people waiting for a bus:

  •  An old woman who looks as if she is about to die.
  • An old friend who once saved your life.
  • The perfect partner you have been dreaming about (your “soul mate”).

Knowing that you only have room for one passenger in your car (it’s a really small car), which one would you choose to offer a ride to? And why?

Discussion: You can pick up the old woman, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first. Or you can take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your soul mate again.

Ready? Here is the answer!

The Answer: “I would give the car keys to my old friend, and let him take the old woman to the hospital. Then I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.”

I loved this… and, honestly, I did not think about the great answer that was given. I was going to take the lady to the hospital, tell my friend, good to see you, and ask my soul mate to wait. It reminded me that I needed to think outside of the box myself to see options that, in this case, made everyone healthy, safe and happy.

So, today, as you go through your routines, pinch a few minutes of time to think about what adventure or product or hobby you really want to do, and then write it down (yes, you have you write it down) and then begin the process of thinking outside the box you currently live in either to find a new way or to become a new you or to dust off the inquisitive entrepreneur you once were, and begin again on a new path to your glorious, messy, breathtaking adventure.

I’m sure I’ll see you on the path, and when we meet, please tell me about your struggle, your bright light moment of clarity and then show me your treasure map for what I know will be a rewarding life.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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