We’ve all heard that phrase before. And I’ll have to admit – in my chosen career as a professional magician, thinking outside the box is a tool I have come to use again and again. When I am starting to design a new show for a client (or create some corporate or trade show magic) one of the first things that comes to my mind is: “How can I do this differently than I have done before, or as I have seen it done before?” This has led to a lot of headaches, but also to a lot of exciting breakthroughs in creativity and presentation.
Right now I’m also on the cusp of implementing some major expansion in the business side of my magical world, and believe it or not, these breakthroughs came about by applying this classic mindset of thinking outside the box. But… what is “the box”? Simply put, to me it is the standard way of thinking of how things have always been done, and/or how others around you have always done said things.
The magician brings out a top hat, and he pulls out a _____________. Now admit it – the first thing that came to your mind was “rabbit”, yes? Of course, because that’s what we all think. But what if the conjuror pulled out an octopus? Or a boa constrictor? Or he reached inside – and something started pulling HIM in??? Now you’re getting everyone’s attention.
Yes, sometimes a new approach to an old problem can lead to an intriguing solution. Have you ever heard of the 9-dot puzzle? I remember seeing this when I was very young, and it blew my juvenile mind! Here’s the challenge:
Connect the 9 dots below with only 4 lines.
You cannot lift your pencil from the paper once you have started.
Try to do it without looking at the solution below. Give it a real shot… try it for one minute. Just think, after you know the answer, you can do this at bars or parties and win free drinks and the admiration of the opposite sex! (Okay, maybe not…)
Give up? Okay check out the solution below (start at the top left dot):
The reason this stumps a lot of people is because they just assume you have to stay inside the “box” formed by the dots. And as you can see, the solution actually lies in the physical manifestation of “thinking-outside-of–the-box.” What a classic! And it certainly applies to when you have a challenge or a problem to solve. What is a new and different way to attack this?
This is especially true in the corporate magic market and in entertainment created for trade shows. I have seen so much magic performed exactly the same way by so many performers. And I’m sure the audience has too. So I really strive to bring something new to the table.
Okay… so now I challenge YOU! Between the time you’re reading these words and the next 24 hours, I want you to apply this concept of thinking outside the box to at least one thing in your daily life. Work, home, social – you name it! My personal gauntlet thrown down in front of you. I guarantee that if you follow through, you will create a little unexpected REAL magic in your daily life!