Thinking Outside the Box vs. Making the Box Bigger

may7eA while ago I participated in a MOOC offered by David Owens, a Professor in Vanderbilt’s School of Management. He presented the course Leading Strategic Innovations in Organizations  (By the way these courses are free and a new session for Dr. Owens’ starts on July 1, 2014.)  I got a lot out of this course for both my personal and career development.  Here is one idea that really resonated with me.  Professor Owens said something like “It is not a matter of thinking outside the box, but making the box bigger.”

What I got out of that statement was that it is not really so difficult to think or operate outside the norm.  In so doing, I can have all the irrelevant “outside the box” experiences that I want.  I can equate this to being anesthetized with my addictions when I am apart from the world, basking in my grandiosity of oblivion.  However, making the box bigger, so that I can fit inside of it allows me to be true to myself but also be a part of the human experience – to take responsibility for myself and be responsible for the contributions I can bring to the table.

Even though I am living in recovery and not actively living in my addictions, I can too easily become isolated away in my own little world.  The challenge is to claim my place at the table where I can live in harmony with everyone else but also stay true to my path in life.   I liken this to a luminous web of interconnectivity.

I consider making the box bigger a challenge and an opportunity in recovery.  And like all else in recovery a true process and not event.

6 thoughts on “Thinking Outside the Box vs. Making the Box Bigger

  1. Whew… that’s some mind blowing stuff, Robert! That challenge… “claiming my place at the table where I can lie in harmony with everyone else but also stay true to my path in life..” I would say this is the ongoing challenge for me. I can people please, and have done so for much of my life, and I can be a selfish you-know-what, as I have been as an alternative to people pleasing, but finding the balance between the two seems to be a balancing act I haven’t come close to mastering.

    Thought provoking stuff, Robert, thanks for getting my brain moving on this beautiful Sunday!

  2. Making the box bigger, what a powerful concept. It is easy to view my box as small, emphasizing that everything outside of it is uncomfortable. But making my box bigger? Wow, what a powerful visual. Thank you for sharing this valuable learning that can be directly applied to the recovery process.

    • I agree with your sentiment. It’s very easy for me to isolate out in the distant margins with a sense of a noble self-righteousness. But the one thing I remember laying in the detox bed was the idea presented in the Big Book chapter A Vision for You of recovery allowing me to function in today’s world. That includes staking a claim that I have value and can make a contribution as well – not forever living in the shadows.

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