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Archive for September, 2014

Boxed In?


I’m in the business of helping people change.

I help them look at problems in a different way.

I help them find solutions they did not know existed, and I help them change

behaviors that allow them to accomplish their goals.

And I sometimes deal with resistance.

The resistance takes one of four forms. It’s called “boxed in” thinking.


There are four signs you are “boxed in” in your thinking:


“That won’t work in this organization.”

“It costs too much.”

“We’ve already tried it and it didn’t work.”

“We’re already doing it.”


“That won’t work in this organization.”

I often hear this one. People love to think their problems are unique; that their industry

has a special circumstance that is unlike that which others deal with.

I have news.

Your organization may be a special place, but your problems are not that unique.

Stuck is stuck.

“I don’t know what to do next” is a universal concern.

It has to do more with how you’re approaching the problem and less to do with your particular industry or market.


“It costs too much.”

It doesn’t cost “too much.”

It costs what it costs.

Maybe it costs more then you want to pay.

Maybe it costs more than you have.

It’s my experience that even though this is an economy worth trillions of dollars, there is “no money.”

Except when something is important enough, and then it’s amazing how people “find” the money.


“We’ve already tried it and it didn’t work.”

It’s my experience that people often have not tried “it.”

They might have tried something like “it.”

I also find that what they tried might not have worked as they would have liked,

but it’s often an exaggeration to say “it didn’t work” at all.


“We’re already doing it.”

Probably not.

And even if you are, you might be able to do it differently.

Or do it with different people.

Or do it longer or more often.


Why are we so resistant to change?

It’s our brain’s fault.

The brain, you see, likes what it knows because it has a model for it.

It doesn’t like the new because it’s unfamiliar.

But here’s the great news.

If you give the brain new information over time, it will change its model.

We used to look up in the sky and say, “A man-made object heavier than air can’t fly.”

Over time we observed hot air balloons, dirigibles, and finally, airplanes.

As our brains received new information, it began to change its model.

Now we look up in the air and observe, “That’s a man-made object heavier than air. You know they fly.”


How do we avoid getting “boxed in”?

 It’s as easy as one, two, three.

 Step 1-Get curious

Let go of assumptions and preconceived notions and judgments.

Ask lots of questions.

Assume there is a way(s) and you simply haven’t discovered it yet.

 Step 2- Involve other people

The more the merrier.

Present the issue you’re trying to solve and let people brainstorm.

When they come up with an idea, avoid the tendency to dismiss it out of hand.

Listen–really listen–to what they are saying.

Step 3- Focus on what you are doing that is working or has worked in the past

Success leaves clues.

Success is also good for your confidence.


Repeat these three steps until you achieve your goal.


Think about which of these types of thinking you most often use.

Answering that question and implementing some of these tips could go

a long way to helping you think “outside the box.”


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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488