Don't Think Out of The Box - Enlarge It!

Before we can be more creative, we need to figure out and break down our limitations. 
Don't think out of the box, enlarge it

We have all heard the advice to “think outside the box” if we want to be creative and generate unconventional ideas.

But what if that very act is itself limiting? “The term ‘thinking out of the box’ is counter-intuitive,” contends consulting psychologist Dr Senthu Jeyaraj, founder of talent development company OrgCognisance.

According to her, the “box” represents our fixed mindset, which over the years, has developed to help protect our personalities, experiences and limitations (fears and weaknesses) from societal and cultural influences. While it is possible to step out of this “box”, it is difficult and uncomfortable to stay outside for long. Soon we retreat into the safety of our box.

Dr Jeyaraj, who has spoken at TEDxJCUS (a TED event organised by James Cook University, Singapore), believes thinking out of the box stifles creative development in the long term since our fixed boundaries are still in place, restricting our ability to be innovative.

She has been working on new ways to develop creativity and finds that a more effective and lasting method would be to dissolve the boundaries of our existing box, hence enlarging our creative space. A more “permeable” box would allow new ideas and experiences to flow in and enrich it, enabling us to be more creative over time.

Dr Jeyaraj has come up with a framework to erase boundaries. This includes recognising one’s own limitations (admittedly, not an easy task) and finding out the reasons why they are there before tackling them, she tells Challenge.

So don’t just think outside the box. Break down its confines, grow your box and you could be on your way to becoming a more creative person – for good.

Senthu Jeyaraj has a master’s in Psychology from the National University of Singapore and a doctorate from the University of Southern Queensland. An academic staff in Psychology at James Cook University, she has garnered several awards including Best Lecturer of the Year (2012). Dr Jeyaraj has also established several research partnerships, one of which is the Human Capital Leadership Institute.

    Jan 16, 2014
    He Yining
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