Thoughts on the Box

How do boundaries allow us to be more creative?
How do boundaries allow us to be more creative?

Consider the Box. More specifically, consider the phrase, “Think outside the Box.” The person who coined the phrase was actually using outside the box thinking at the time. Like many good phrases, though, “Think outside the box,” has become a cliché. Once innovative, “Think outside the box” is now “out of the box” – or prefabricated - thinking. “Think outside the box” now sits there for anyone who “thinks inside the box” (i.e. followers, sheep, non-creatives, middle management), to use as a crutch-phrase (like catch phrase, but more lame) when an actual solution is needed.


Inside versus outside the box thinking isn’t really the solution to any problem. The solution is how we actually view the box. In other words, how do we view the set of constraints placed upon us when finding a solution?


A recent meme suggested that we actually do away with the box. That simply doesn’t work. The box sets the boundaries. Jackson Pollack, for all his inventiveness, still used a canvas, after all. Getting rid of the box, just spills paint on the floor – any toddler could help with that.


The box can be a tool. When my family and I recently moved, I had the pleasure of contemplating many boxes used in this manner, such as the one on the photo above. My arms contemplated the weight of the boxes against the awkwardness of carrying more than one. These were the utilitarian, “let’s move these boxes,” boxes. Although my son did get creative with some of the labeling and my daughter asked me to draw a turtle on another. (Just a side note, my daughter believes turtles say "Ribbit," which is an outside the box view of turtles).


When it has finished serving it's purpose as the carryer of stuff, a used box is a doorway, or a canvas onto which we project our imagination. The box is, after all in the toy hall of fame - I’ve seen children (my own included) use boxes as canoes, hats, islands, or the only protection in shark infested waters. Many Halloween costumes were saved by boxes. And what child does not look at a box received as a gift without thinking of the possibilities.


A box can be re-used, recycled and repurposed. It can contain fragile glassware, books no longer read, or contain memories that are best left boxed and in the corner of the garage. Special memories can also be unlocked once the memory box is found.


So the next time someone tells you to “think outside the box,” tell them that you are working at putting the box to use.

Warm, friendly, professional voice talent specializing in corporate narration, explainer videos, and e-learning. Most projects are turned around within 24 hours from my studio. 





From the Blog..