Surely you’ve heard the phrase “think outside the box.” Often, this directive stems from frustration that there are just no new ideas being presented.
This holiday season, I want to challenge each of you to “think outside YOUR box.”
But before we can start thinking outside the box, we need to define what thinking “inside the box” means, right? I recently read an article by businessman Ed Bernacki, founder of The Idea Factory, where he shared his thoughts on “inside the box” and “outside the box” thinking.
Thinking INSIDE the Box
- In-the-box thinkers accept the status quo. Charles H. Duell, Director of the U.S. Patent Office, said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” That was in 1899… he was an “in-the-box” thinker, obviously!
- In-the-box thinkers find it difficult to recognize the quality of an idea. An idea is just an idea. A solution is just a solution. They rarely invest time to turn an okay solution into a great solution.
- In-the-box thinkers are great at killing ideas. Comments such as “that will never work” or “it is just too risky” or “we have never done it that way before” drain the enthusiasm and passion of innovative thinkers when their ideas are immediately dismissed.
- In-the-box thinkers believe every problem needs only one solution. Finding more than one solution is a waste of time. There’s only one right way… my way.
Thinking OUTSIDE the Box
Thinking outside the box requires:
- A willingness to bring new perspectives to your day-to-day work.
- Focusing on the value of finding new ideas and then acting on them.
- Striving to create new (and dare we say better) ways of doing things.
- An openness to do different things and to do things differently.
- Setting up an atmosphere of collaboration where people listen with an open mind.
- Supporting and respecting others when they come up with new ideas.
Thinking outside the box requires a receptiveness to new ways of seeing your world!
As the holiday season draws near, NOW is the perfect time for you to explore creative new ways you can engage with your community as you spread peace and goodwill. You might have some stellar ideas already brewing in the back of your mind, but if not, here are a handful of suggestions to get you started…
Out-of-the-box ideas for the holiday season
Create a Christmas card on your website that can be digitally signed by a donor. Allow room for a short message, verse and/or first name signature. Be sure to request the donor’s email address when they sign the card to help build your email database. Then, print the cards and hand them out to your residents or hang in your facilities during the holiday season.
Ask residents in your recovery program to be part of a “living” billboard by setting up a live nativity scene outside your organization or in a public forum. Invite groups of volunteers to serve cocoa and cookies to passersby.
Provide local radio stations with “101 Ways to Impact the Community this Holiday Season” to help your community interact with their neighbors and foster the Christmas spirit. Request an opportunity to talk on-air about your organization and your impact on the community.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on your list of “101 Ways”:
- Change the oil in an elderly neighbor’s car.
- Organize a neighborhood clean-up day.
- Repair a neighbor’s broken fence.
- Paint rooms at a nearby school.
- Sponsor a neighborhood drive to collect and distribute used clothing.
- Grab someone else’s shopping cart as you return your own.
- Offer to babysit, giving new parents a much-needed night out.
- Pay for the coffee/meal of the person behind you in the drive-through.
This holiday season, I challenge you to think outside your box and then be brave enough to put your ideas into action. Now more than ever, people around us are in need of some cheer and hope in their lives. YOU could be just the person to share it with them!
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