Thinking Outside The Box

Imagine your favorite song and hum along with me here for a bit. Think about the melody and how catchy it is. Groovin? Yeah, me too, I knew we’d love the same song.

How do you think the artist came up with that melody? They probably noodled around with a couple of chords and then built the entire song around one riff.

Hold that thought for a second. An entire song – our favorite song – from just a few chords? Very cool.

You can bet that if they had tried putting in every chord and melody they could think of it would’ve turned out pretty crappy. So how do you think they were able to create an entire song based off only a few chords?

Through restriction and exploration.

Keith and Mick wrote their first big hit after their manager locked them in the kitchen. They had no choice. When you’re restricted to a single option you’re forced to get creative and explore all possibilities. And that’s where the magic happens.

Exploring life with restrictions forces you to become creative and think outside of whatever box you have maneuvered yourself into.

You are in a box right now. Don’t look at me, I didn’t put you in there.

Whether you know it or not, you’re in it. All your routines, habits, and comfort zones have formed walls around you and it’s holding you back from fully enjoying your life.

That box is hard to get out of. We are surrounded by distractions and technology. And since so many of our daily activities are on autopilot I think we could really benefit from some restriction and exploration.

When was the last time you turned your phone off for a day and focused on doing something unrelated to social media? Like having a deep conversation with a friend or loved one. I’m talking an entire day; from the moment you wake up ’til the next sunrise.

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Exploring life with restrictions forces you to become creative and think outside of whatever box you've maneuvered yourself into. We are surrounded by distractions and technology. And since so many of our daily activities are on autopilot, I think we could really benefit from some restriction and exploration. I'm always looking for new ways to break out of my box. Here's a rudimentary example, sitting down and getting back up again. How many ways can you do it? Can you do it without using your hands? I love playing around with these kinds of simple restrictions. What are some things that you've got on autopilot? Break out of your box by restricting yourself to one task and see what you come up with. You might even end up with an awesome #farmerstan like me.😬

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The reality is that most of us would go bonkers if we had to make it through a day without our phones. But just imagine what you could do if you went “dark” once a week and focused on a single pursuit. Even half a day of zero distractions with a sole focus could be the start of some serious life-changing ideas.

I’m sure you’ve heard of this concept before, it’s not new. It’s been used throughout history by many of the greats. In Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work” he suggests setting aside a block of time each week with no distractions in which to pursue deep and meaningful work. I do it twice a week and it’s something we encourage our employees at GMB Fitness to practice too.

How do we get better with restrictions?

By limiting your number of tasks down to one, you are forced to explore options that you might never have considered.

Here’s a rudimentary example.

How many different ways can you sit down then return to a standing position?

Let’s take a minute to think about it. Do a quick mental rehearsal – address the squat, down to the floor, and then get back up – got it. Now, give it a try.

How’d did it go?

Fairly easy? Give me a real challenge, Ryan!

Okay, let’s add a restriction; this time no hands.

That changes the game a bit, but the first round was a cinch so humor me.

Could you do it? Did you have the strength, flexibility, and control to sit down smoothly and then get back up like a ballerina? You might have found that you couldn’t do it and ended up using your hands after all.

Alright, no problem. Let’s think about it and explore our options.

I said no hands, but I didn’t say no props. So what could you use?

You could place your back against a wall and slide down then back up. As your legs get stronger, you could gradually phase out the wall.

A simple enough solution to help you reach your hands-free goal. Now your ordinary sitting standing routine has taken on some long-term benefits; awesome balance, spatial awareness, Japanese toilet skills for when you’re over here visiting me for tea sometime, eh, eh?

And that’s thinking outside of the box.

Restricting yourself in order to force creativity is a simple idea that you can apply to pretty much anything in your life.

What are some things you’ve got on autopilot? Break out of your box by restricting yourself to a single task and see what you come up with. See if you can open a tiny window of exploration, a crack in the door to let in some fresh possibilities.