Let me explain what I mean by “The Box.” The box is the set of pre-conceived ideas, notions, beliefs you have about yourself (or your business). They are very often created by someone else, possibly someone who thinks they are doing what is right for you, by instilling these ideas, notions, and beliefs about you onto you. But what they often do instead is create a series of walls that limit your potential for growth, experience, relationships, and success.
Some common examples of “box” building beliefs:
- Only certain behavior is acceptable.
- You should never “hang out” with people like “that.”
- You should dress/act/talk a certain way – and if you don’t, you are inherently “wrong” or defective.
- Only crazy/sick/sinful people do “that.”
I’m not talking about basic moral teachings. I’m talking about issues that try to add layers of personal preference, societal “norms,” and definitions of “acceptable” beyond the scope of basic moral integrity.
Should you steal from your customers? Of course not! But is it morally wrong to make a comfortable profit that provides an honorable living for you, your employees, and the future success of your company? Some people would try to tell you YES – based on their perception of your pricing practices.
Should you tell the truth? Of course! But what if the truth is going to hurt someone? What if the truth is something they cannot, or do not want to, accept? Should you “lie” to avoid causing that person pain? In business (and life), we will be accused of lying by customers who don’t like what we are telling them – should we avoid telling them the truth?
What if you are a certain personality/temperament type that others don’t always understand or embrace? This is something I deal with regularly as a very dominant/demanding/strong personality – especially as a woman, but I’m sure male dominant leaders struggle with this issue as well. Society encourages this kind of behavior at times with men in leadership positions, but has historically been very negative toward women who exude these same traits. It is only very recently that we are beginning to see a shift in society’s perspective on this. I still run into people who are uncomfortable (or downright cruel), telling me I am not acting “lady-like” enough, or not as a “proper Christian wife” should act. Hhmmm… I smile and thank them for their concern and walk away. In my mind, the only person who can decide if I am acting as a “proper Christian wife” is the guy who has to put up with my wife-ness or lack thereof – and he is pretty happy with his strong, confident spouse.
I have been on a journey of “destroying the box” for several years now. For me, it has been accepting and embracing who God created me to be, the real me, not the person I was taught I should be like, should act like, should talk like. It’s also included redefining relationships, in some very significant ways, many that are outside of societal “norms” but have brought me much closer to others, creating pathways of honest, and open communication.
This process of “destroying the box” (and yes, I am very specifically NOT saying “get out of the box” or “break the box” – I never want to get back in it or have a chance of putting that damn box back together!) is also part of my business model. I have no desire to be like everybody else in my industry! I may do certain things the same, but you don’t get a reputation as the best by doing what everybody else does – you do it by doing something different, more than expected, above and beyond. NO BOX! It’s not marketing rhetoric. It’s refusing to let the box get built, or built again.
I would LOVE comments on how YOU destroyed your box, or the boxes you have identified in your life that you are working to destroy!