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Thursday, July 26, 2018

It's time to think inside the box

The education moment delivered to the BNI Boundless Business networking group on July 26, 2018.

By Aaron S. Robertson

The author is pursuing a Ph.D. in leadership from Cardinal Stritch University, where he also holds a master's degree in management. His dissertation is in the realm of workplace culture. Learn more about him here.

A month ago, I discussed with you this concept of quantity over quality when it comes to generating ideas for your business, something I picked up and reflected on from my summer school program last month.

Today, I'd like to share with you another interesting paradigm - another concept to serve as food for thought - from that same summer school program.

As I said last month, this annual summer program - we call it the Summer Institute - has a different overarching theme to it each year, and the theme for it this year was "Creativity." Well, on the opening night of the Institute, one of my research professors, Dr. Tony Frontier, took to the microphone to address us. He said something interesting that really stood out for me, and that's what I want to share with you today.

Tony was talking about that old saying that we're very familiar with, "Think outside the box." In a nutshell, he explained to us that, all too often, we're so focused on thinking outside the box, that we forget or lose sight of what we already have to work with inside of the box. This point pairs well with my discussion last month, in the sense that, we're so busy waiting for, or trying to formulate, that perfect, mind-blowing idea that's supposed to come along and forever change our businesses and our lives and our financial situations, that we end up ignoring, consciously or unconsciously, what we already have at our disposal right in front of us to work with. And so, based on this concept of working within the confines of the box for a change, I have some questions here for us to reflect on and get our minds going this morning:

Are there business cards sitting in our desks that we picked up along the way from networking events or meetings, but haven't done anything with them? Untapped potential - it's time to pick up the phone and schedule a one-on-one.

Are there notes from conferences, seminars, or training workshops that we haven't looked at in a while, maybe not at all since we attended the event? Might be a good time to take them out for a review.

Are there books or articles sitting on our shelves that we read a while back, or ones that we never fully finished for whatever reason - they could be on leadership, or financial management, or on a particular technical or trade skill that caught our eye at one time? Again, might be a good time to take them out for a review - or to finally finish.

Look around this room - anyone you haven't had a good, solid one-on-one with in quite a while? How about within your own organization - are there colleagues that you'd like to get to know better? Time for lunch or a drink after work. Untapped potential and synergies are hanging in the balance.

Are there ways we can tap into our networks to provide value-added products, services, discounts, gifts, or bits of helpful information to our customers from other businesses that we’re allied with?

When we think of our own experiences as consumers and customers, what stands out in our minds? What do we really like and appreciate? Can we incorporate the same or something similar for our own customers?

So, to sum this up, it's important now and then to reflect on and take stock of what's in the box. What - or who - do we already have at our disposal in our offices, in our networks, in our day-to-day lives, and in our interactions with others that we're forgetting about? See, we're usually searching so far out, that it's very easy to forget about all the potential, and synergies, and ideas, and creative solutions that are right there in front of us. Think inside the box for a change. Thank you!  

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