Quite a popular mantra nowadays, don’t you think?

Whenever somebody tosses you a problem without also giving you the tools to fix it and you dare ask for instructions about how to fulfill your new task, you’ll inevitably get this very helpful ‘advice’… And most often it’s your boss who does this, right?

So?

Ever tried Google-ing it?  Wikipedia has, of course, an extensive entry about this notion. Lifehack.org has a decent list of 11 to do-s on this topic, only many of them are things you’d better do in advance…

But what can a man do in a hurry?

First of all stop searching desperately for a solution.
Most of us entertain the idea that the human brain is a well honed tool that only needs to be pointed at the target, fed the pertinent information and, presto, it will provide a solution if pressed/enticed hard enough.
The problem is that something inside that tool (part of our subconscious) has been conditioned during our formative years to stay inside a set of limitations/comfort zone. Don’t do this, don’t touch that, don’t lie…

While staying inside the rules is, usually, a very helpful rule of thumb – specially when it comes to survival situations where you don’t have time to consider the matter – sometimes you really need to do exactly the opposite. Drinking your own piss, for instance.

Whoa! Another quack… I’m out of here!
Hold your horses and keep on reading. Or, even better, click on the highlighted link and find out about how a guy saved himself by simultaneously braking two taboos. Not only the one about drinking your own urine but also the one about ‘not hurting yourself’.

And by reading that article you’ll also understand a lot about the inner workings of the human mind.

So, what do we have there?
A guy wants to convince us that drinking pee is wrong for us. To do this he needs to grab our attention so he brings in Aaron Ralston, a well know character who had his hand pinned down by a fallen boulder, waited awhile to be saved, drunk his own urine during some of that time and, finally, when he got tired of the entire situation, cut himself free, leaving behind his right palm.
Do I still have your attention? My post is about thinking out of the box and I’m trying to illustrate my point by using an article about how bad it is to drink urine, which uses as an attention grabber the story of a guy who did drink his own piss and cut his hand in order to free himself…

A box in a box which lies inside another box… Yep. that’s it, you got it.

The first thing you need to do when having a hard time trying to find a solution is to understand that no matter what you think about your current situation you ARE in a box. In fact not in only one box but deep inside the bowels of a regular Matryoshka.

matryoshka

Feeling desperate? That’s OK. Now that you don’t have anything more to loose than your shackles you’ll have an easier time.

Being ‘inside’ a box is not that bad. The point is that you need to be aware of this fact and to choose yourself which box is the right one for you instead of allowing some ‘strangers’ to box you where ever they want you to be.

So all that is left to be done is to look around, identify the walls of the box you are currently in, the limitations imposed upon you by those walls and how those limitations might prevent you from solving your problem. Finally, look for a way to accede into the wider box. Don’t be afraid nor dream that you’ll ever get out into the open, the walls I’m speaking about are constantly being build by our very own minds.

And this is good. Out there there is no order we can speak of. It’s the Unknown and we are rightfully afraid of it. That’s why we conquer any new ground piece by piece, precisely by building a wall immediately after we have a glimpse of understanding about something.  Usually this process takes place unnoticed by our consciousness. We have a moment of grace, the old wall becomes transparent, we see something behind it and we imediately build another wall a little further. Both to protect the new acquired knowledge and to defend the realm of the familiar from the dark forces of the unknown.

The problem with this process is that most of the time the walls are opaque. Not only the exterior one, most of the interior ones stay opaque for most of us even after they have been breached numerous times. And much of their opaqueness come from nothing else but our own fright.

The Ancient Greeks divided the world in two parts. The Cosmos, which had a certain structure and was governed by rules, and the Chaos, the  frightful rest. The separation between these two places, Cosmos and Chaos, was nothing but one of the walls I keep mentioning and the Greeks never dared look behind it so they didn’t have to face any of the monsters created by their own imagination and set free to roam the Chaos. We, despite our modern belief in science, are no better than they were. Still afraid we wait, wriggling our hands, behind the protection walls we have erected to protect our inquisitive minds from straying into the unknown.

So, next time you feel like taking an exploratory trip into the unknown, start by identifying the walls around you. Both to understand what you have to overcome and to find out where your fall back positions are.