I was talking to a friend and colleague a while back about life in general and how both life and circumstance seem to be conspiring to keep us all locked in our “boxes”. We talked about our hesitation and in some cases downright unwillingness to question the ideas and beliefs that we’ve held on to for much if not most of our lives. But how do you REALLY “know” a thing if you’ve never, on some level, asked the question??? A favorite quote of mine (and I can’t recall where I first heard it–either inside our out of my head) is that “untested faith (in anyone or anything) is unreliable”. In other words, I can say I have faith in my desk chairs’ ability to hold me but until I plop my butt down in it, I’m not acting on my faith. I’m not “testing” the chairs’ ability to deliver the goods. I’m looking at it and it’s looking back at me as it were…but neither ever really KNOWS, right?
The “box” represents everything we know, believe, have experienced, have been told or taught. Those beliefs, experiences, stories and lessons have shaped who we are. They provide the “backstory” to our lives. Interestingly, the box both informs and reinforces every decision we make or don’t make and every action we take or don’t take and even our secret thoughts. So in essence, if you never think or venture outside of the box it will do what it’s designed to do which is keep you “in” and keep everything else “out”. That’s what boxes are for. Some people’s arrogance would have them believe that they aren’t boxed in but if you look closer, they really just have a bigger box. At first glance they may seem to be freer…more money, more prestige, more self-actualized, more educated…but those things can also be boxes.
I don’t typically do well in boxes long-term even when they’re of my own making. I’m an emotional, spiritual, anaytical claustrophobic! I don’t like being in tight, closed spaces. I don’t like having limits placed on me nor should I place them on myself and others. I have no idea what another person is capable of and so shouldn’t project my own insecurities and limitations on them. We’re all capable if greatness.
So whatever your box is, it’s worth it to venture outside. Do something different. Face your fears head-on. No one ever became a better version by taking the safe route. At the end of 2011, we relected on the greatness of now deceased Apple CEO Steve Jobs and celebrated him for deciding that he was not going to waste his life living someone else’s. We should all be so brave.