O is for Outside the Box

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

Albert Einstein

We hear the phrase “outside the box” a lot and it can get tedious through overuse. It can also be scary to people who feel they aren’t that creative or who don’t want to be WAY out there. The thing is I don’t mean outside the proverbial box, I mean outside my own box. I have discovered in the last number of years the importance of pushing myself outside my own boundaries – my box. The unfortunate part in the phrase is we compare ourselves to others and get nervous about the boxes they are jumping outside of.

I go back to George Couros and his book, Innovator’s Mindset or Dave Burgess’ Teach Like A Pirate, when I think about jumping outside of my own box. What can I do differently? What can I think about differently? These were the questions I asked myself and I began to try a few new ways of doing things. I started small. I think too many times we overwhelm ourselves and nothing happens. Start small, and eventually, you’ll see big changes happen.

Thinking differently is all it takes. This does not mean remaking every single thing, nor does it mean fighting a whole system single-handed. It means being open enough to learn and brave enough to try new things. Couros talks about thinking inside the box – inside the constraints of what our reality is in our classroom, school, education system. Sometimes we get hung up on trying to change these very big things and give up before we start. I go back to the serenity prayer here “Grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can change, and wisdom to know the difference.” We are in charge of us. So that is something we can change, that is the box we should think outside of. The box is not those boundaries, but our own boundaries in our thinking and our way of doing things. It’s important to step back and look at things from a different perspective, turn them upside down and ponder the good that changing some things could do.

Have you ever seen a child take a big box and turn it into the coolest fort ever? No one said your box had to or should remain as is, using the box in a new way is all it takes.

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