Are You In or Out of the Box?

Our Weekly 2 Minute Read

Edition 70 - November 3, 2019

Remember that time when you got cut off by someone on the freeway?

It most likely didn’t feel too good. May have even made you mad.

You see that person as the worst person in the world and you may want to say things out loud that you normally wouldn’t say.

You start imagining yourself cutting them off and slowing down in front of them just to show them who is boss.

You have become emotionally compromised.

Now imagine if you were late to an important meeting and that happened to you and you decide to chase after the person who cut you off and you get a speeding ticket. The percentages of you making a bad decision after that would probably go up.

In the book Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute, it talks about this concept as being “in the box.”

People who are in the box basically have a distorted view of reality. They tend to see and treat people as objects. They see themselves as the center of the world and everyone else is secondary.

You know you are in the box if you:

Inflate others faults.

Inflate your own virtues.

Inflate the importance of anything that justifies your behaviors.

Start blaming others.

John Wooden has a great quote for the last one, “You’re not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.”

The opposite of being “in the box” is being “out of the box.”

People who are out of the box have a clearer view of reality. They tend to see and treat people as people. They put their own needs on the same level as others. These people tend to create an environment of trust, collaboration and synergy where everyone is able to work and put in great effort to the best of their abilities to get a desired result. People who are out of the box are not emotionally compromised.

Even if you are out of the box, it does not mean that you will never be put in the box.

So if you are aware of this concept, it may help you next time you are in the box to not make any big decisions at that time until you get out of the box.

So if someone ever cuts you off on the freeway again, just realize that that person might be in the box and that he or she is most likely emotionally compromised. Just make sure they don’t put you in the box so you don’t have to go through what they are going through.

If you are working with people, this concept can definitely help build a great team oriented culture where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The more people in the group who is skillful at being out of the box, the higher chance that people who are in the box that come into the group can get out of the box as well. Success is usually achieved when the collective group is outside the box.

At the end of the day, just remember this. Whenever you feel like it’s just not your day, remember to ask yourself, are you in the box or out of the box?