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Learn how to be creative and think out of the box

In 1942, Einstein lectured at Oxford University. One day he gave his students several exam questions. When he later walked outside with his assistant, she asked, "Mr. Einstein, weren't these exactly the same questions that the same class had last year?" The amazement was great when Einstein confirmed this, and she asked, "But sir, how can you do that?" Einstein looked at her briefly and said: "That's very simple, the questions are the same, but the answers have changed".

What was true in 1942 has now become even more true. Some questions remain the same, but the answers are changing at an ever-increasing pace.

Doing what wasn't possible before

If you want results that didn't seem possible before, you have to do things you've never done before, you have to think out of the box. But how do you do the right things to achieve what no one thought possible previously? How do you get everything that's possible out of everything you have?

The standard behavior of people in crisis is almost always the same. They will either do more of the same, or they will do less of the same. But they stubbornly do the same in the hope that a different outcome will follow. Only rarely do people suddenly start doing something else. Research shows that only 3% of people can do something really different in these situations. In other words, they can come up with solutions that result in different outcomes.

How can only such a small percentage of people be able to really think of and do something else? According to some researchers, this has to do with the energy that is needed for thinking. Thinking is an absolute energy killer. That's why most of us think about something as briefly as possible and then do the exact same thing they have always done.

It turns out that we are on autopilot for 95% of our time. When we are in the car, it can happen that after half an hour, you suddenly realize that you are almost there. All this time, you drove for 95% or more on autopilot. While you are reading this, you are probably doing this on autopilot. You record it and don't think about it yet, or maybe you think about it barely.

Thanks to this autopilot, it can happen within companies that some tunnel vision is created. It is comparable to driving a car entirely focused on the road and then lagging so far behind that when you look in the rear-view mirror, you think you are in the lead.

Shifting our boundaries by thinking out of the box

Most people know the concept that you have to think out of the box. It is often illustrated as a box with you inside. The lines of the box are the boundaries you sometimes have to dare to cross. The four boundaries you prefer to stay within are, for example, boundaries in terms of legislation, technological possibilities, physical possibilities, and existing (business) models.

Sometimes you are limited by convictions that something is not possible or allowed, and sometimes you are limited because you lack knowledge of what else is possible than you know. The problem, however, is not only the boundary of our own conceived box. The problem is that our box is usually ten times smaller than we think.