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6 Keys to Solving Any Challenge with Out-of-the-Box Thinking

Apr 21, 2008
As my friends and I hovered in the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, the reality was sinking in that American Airlines had cancelled all of our flights and we were stuck in Nashville for one more day. As we mentally reviewed the checklist in our heads of all the rescheduling, rebooking and inconveniences we now had to deal with, none of us where very happy.

Our small group of strandees began to share our next steps when something happened that I'll never forget. One of us got outside of the box and created a new reality. My friend and mentor Alexandria Brown blew up the paradigm the rest of us were playing in and hired a private leer jet to take us home.

It is at the very moment that you feel hopeless, stuck and frustrated that out-of-the-box thinking can trigger a whole new dimension of reality. You see, the problem is that most of us try to solve problems with the same level of thinking it was created in. We can only access ideas, thoughts and possibilities that we currently live in because, well, quite frankly, that's our current reality!

Take my client Janice for example. Janice has desperately been trying to get a consistent high 6 figure revenue stream for two years but somehow she continues to hover around the $100k level. She spends all her time focused on getting the next client in the door or serving the client she has, rather than creating automated marketing lead sources and building leverage strategies that would allow her to focus on her bigger fish.

So what is the trick to engaging "out-of-the-box" problem solving when you need it most? Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Access a Role Model. Think of someone who plays at another level of success and ask yourself, "What would XX do?" For instance, "What would Richard Branson do?" Even if you don't have the financial resources that your role model does, it can still trigger a whole new level of ideas.

2. Do the Opposite. Sometimes it pays to challenge yourself and say, "What is the opposite of what I would normally do?" If you normally get frustrated, run to the airport and demand the next flight out (which for me creates a ton of stress) then maybe the opposite would be to book a night in a fancy hotel and go to the spa (much more appealing to me).

3. Change Careers. Not in reality but in your thinking. If you are a coach or consultant what if you pretend you are a famous actress? Or if you are a dentist or doctor pretend you are a public speaker. What kind of options surface when you try on a different "hat?"

4. Review your List of Life Goals. Is there anything you've always wanted to do that if you stretched into right now might help you solve the problem? For instance, Ali had always wanted to fly on a private jet so she figured if not now, when!

5. What If-I-Die-Tomorrow. Another way to look at it is, "What would I do if I knew I was going to die tomorrow?" You never know what life has in store so if you always play full out, what would you do differently today?

6. Access Your Millionaire Thinking. Another twist on getting outside of your box is to ask yourself, "If I was already a millionaire/billionaire, what would I do to solve this problem." When we solve the problem in our current state of income, we tend to limit our options. Be willing to "act as if" you are already there and access new, unlimited resources.

If you truly want to play at a higher level then it's time to blow up the box you are playing in. For instance, my client Janice decided to start doing the opposite. As someone who tends to be very analytical and risk-adverse, she decided to be more creative and a bigger risk taker. Within a few short weeks she realized it was time to build up a team that could help her implement more automated marketing systems. The clients began to roll in and she could focus on her personal magic.

It's time for you to start playing outside of your box - which of these keys will you use?
About the Author
Melanie Benson Strick, Million Dollar Lifestyle Business Coach, teaches entrepreneurs how to stop feeling overwhelmed so they can create more money, freedom and prestige. Revolutionize your results with a free chapter from, The Power of The Virtual Team, at http://www.thepowerofthevirtualteam.com
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