Everyone has a brain. There is no acephalous human being that is walking on the streets of Chicago or plying the highways of Nairobi. Everyone has a cranium that protects the brain, and it’s assumed that everyone is using their brain to think.
The process of thought formation, however, doesn’t originate and stop in the brain. Rather it makes use of all the components that make up an individual, whether as previous knowledge and experiences or divine insight.
Let’s liken our thoughts to fire. You’ll observe that to make fire you need fuel (firewood, dry leaves), then a heat source (match stick or if you’re as primitive as me, you can resort to using stones) and very importantly, oxygen in the air/wind. Whatever the case is, the brain needs ingredients to generate ideas and solutions to problems.
The brain’s ability to be unique in the ideas that it produces is dependent on the ingredients that an individual feeds to it, just as the fireline intensity will depend on the elements that are involved in both the generation and propagation of the fire.
Think Out of the Box
The concept of thinking outside the box has seen so much literature dedicated to it. In the context of this article, thinking outside the box is a situation where you bring your unique perspective into the solution of a problem.
In a previous article, I highlighted the importance of focusing on solutions, not on the problems. So, to think outside the box implies that you should think of new unconventional methods of solving a problem.
So, thinking outside the box is thinking outside your brain. That is, focusing your attention on the ingredients (knowledge, experiences, personality, and everything that makes you unique) that are necessary to generate distinctive solutions to problems. It means, focusing on the things that make you distinct from the others, instead of constantly thinking in conformity with the rest.
If everybody’s thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.George S. Patton
For instance: if I asked a plumber and an electrician to come up with new ways to fix a problem with a washing machine, both are going to come up with ideas that draw from their knowledge and experience. Their perspectives will likely be different and so will their solutions.
Added to these ingredients is the divine insight that only God’s Spirit can give on issues. So, in thinking outside the box, you need to seriously consider accessing heavenly wisdom that can inspire solutions that have not been known.
In leadership, you can inspire uniqueness
This is also important for leaders. Sometimes you don’t want to ask the same people working in a given sector to come up with a solution to a problem in that same area. You can ask other people from other units to proffer solutions to a problem outside their unit. You’ll be surprised at the number of potential solutions that will emerge. Why? Because they’d apply their unique experiences in trying to solve that problem.
They’d come up with ideas that aren’t conventional because they aren’t constantly exposed to that environment. So their solutions will come from outside that ‘box’, as opposed to people who have spent all their lives working in that unit. This is a good way to generate multiple solutions to a problem. Later, you can filter the solutions, but you have been able to generate potentially workable ideas.
Be Unique in your approach to known problems
You don’t need to become the new Edison, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Elon Musk. You can just be you, with your new approach to solving energy problems, creating more efficient operating systems or devising ways to treat the innumerable incurable diseases that plague mankind.
See what your mentors have done in your field of interest and improve on their work. With a few exceptions, there’s nothing new under the sun; every invention picked up something from a/some previous invention(s).
So, what unique perspective are you bringing to the table? What problems have you identified that need to be solved, and what solution are you bringing that is different from what others have done?
There’s always a solution to any problem. The only thing is that we’re yet to find the solution. Once we gain insight into the solution, we can transform a mountain into a hill. Most of the curable diseases today were once grossly misunderstood or considered incurable.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”.Ralph Emerson
So, yeah, be a trailblazer. Don’t bother if it doesn’t make sense now. It’ll make sense eventually.