If You Can Think It, You Can Create It!

As Soon As You Open Your Mind To Doing Things Differently, The Doors Of Opportunity Practically Fly Off Their Hinges. – Jay Abraham

I came across the following story, which illustrates the importance of being able to think ‘outside the box’ when trying to solve a problem. Many brilliant minds are afflicted with “one dimensional” thinking. 

While this is good in solving certain classes of problems, a multidimensional approach to problem solving yields more bountiful fruit..

Conducting a famous  Seminar On Entrepreneurship, the facilitator seeks to test the students on their thinking skills, breaks the class into groups and handed each group ₦ 5,000, with the instruction to make as much money as possible within a one-week period.

Perhaps this reminds you of The Challenge – Robert Allen ?

Subsequently,  each group would give a short  presentation time to the whole  class about what was achieved, and how it was achieved..

Some of the groups thought of buying bags of “pure water” in bulk to sell at retail, and do this repeatedly within the allotted period, others played Bet9Ja  Sports Betting, hoping to hit the jackpot, Some invested in a Fast Moving Consumer Good  (FMCG)  – to sell for profit – within one week.

But the teams that use the conventional approaches didn’t do so well, while those that do not use the ₦5,000 at all did much better . These groups discovered that the five thousand Naira given to them is a distracting resource in actually making money.

Thinking outside the box is a metaphor that means to think differently , unconventionally  or from a new perspective.

This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking.


The way the groups that did better achieved better results was to rephrase the purpose of the exercise :  “What can be done to generate funds if reasonable money is unavailable?

They realized that You Don’t Necessarily Need Money To Make Money.

One very inventive group ended up helping prospective travellers queue at embassies, and getting paid by those who cannot get to the embassy early enough to be ahead of the queue  

Another group realized that the resources made available ( ₦ 5, 000 + one week)  weren’t the most valuable assets at their disposal – but rather the time they had to make a presentation in front of a rapturous Business Class. They sold their presentation time_slot to a company interested in recruiting  students from the Business Class,  and made good money .

This story demonstrates the difference between tactics and strategy. The latter is a plan for achieving an objective, while the former represents the actions to take to activate the strategy.

The business students who performed poorly focused wrongly on tactics—how to use the money to generate more money, whereas they should have focused more on strategy.

Tactics without strategy are the noise before defeat. –  Sun Tzu,  Art Of war.

Often, the tools most appropriate for the job are not the ones easily available in plain sight. Seeing possibilities, thinking “outside the box”, focusing on broader strategies are the ways to achieve the best results.  The trick is to broaden the focus on what you are trying to achieve –  beyond the specifics of how.

Moving beyond the  “what” to the “why” would often reveal the best approach.

Some of the ways you can train yourself to think creatively / unconventionally is to ask a child for advice, read books about subjects that would normally not interest you,  get interested in things you consider boring (say writing poems, or drawing, learn about another religion / language, go out you way to make friends with those outside of your social, economic or educational orbit, etc.

Like someone said, Try Everything Possible, Except For The Morally Reprehensible Or Irresponsible.
This is the way to create new pathways in the brain that facilitate creative thinking..

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