“Think outside of the box” – labeling this adage as a cliche is so cliche.

The unintended consequence of this motivational poster slogan is the devaluation of the role that the “box” plays in the creative process.

Give a genius a box and s/he will, from time to time, break through the walls of that box with a creative, innovative and usually crazy solution.  Remove the box and the genius mind will fruitlessly chase shiny objects in an infinitely sized field for the remainder of its lifetime.

A close “friend” of mine has been guilty of removing the box with the intent of encouraging and fostering creativity. “He” tells me the results were disappointing.

Bring back the box with double-reinforced steel walls.  Geniuses need and crave these walls as a superhero does a villain.  Boundaries can not be smashed if they don’t exist.

The golden ring of leadership is to present a box with walls fortified with reasonable and thoughtful objectives, parameters, rules, restrictions, and limitations. Your expectation (hope) is that the genius mind will break through these walls.  Insinuate this expectation, the box’s boundaries will weaken.  Crystalize this expectation, the box’s walls will disappear.

Realistically, this box will provide successful and trustworthy solutions on daily basis.  Genius is not an everyday occurrence, let’s stop pretending it could/should be. However, when the genius mind lowers its shoulders with the force of a brilliant idea, you will watch the box’s walls crumble like a house of cards.  Golden ring achievement unlocked.