It’s not common to meet people who can think outside the box. Most of us would rather work within what we’re familiar with, which shapes and limits our thought processes.
However, those who can think out of the box refuse to be limited by socially accepted ideals. They challenge, question, and constantly try to change the status quo.
Here are 10 common traits that these unconventional thinkers share.
1) They’re creative.
One of the defining characteristics of out of the box thinkers is their creativity. After all, they’re able to think up ideas that are unusual, different, and sometimes, radical.
People often associate creative minds with those in the arts scene but I have also met creative individuals whose backgrounds are in science, engineering, or math.
What ties these people together is their ability to conjure up innovative ideas. They’re also willing to be different.
While their ideas may not always be ‘right’, they inspire and challenge people to think beyond the “box” or boundaries that they limit themselves to.
They make everyone in the room go “Hmm, I wouldn’t have thought of that” or even “I wish I’d thought of that.”
And that’s because they view the world from a different perspective.
Which results in the next trait…
2) They dare to question the status quo.
These unconventional thinkers are ready to question tradition, as well as people who have enforced certain ways of doing things for a long time.
While they do have respect for authority, this doesn’t stop them from questioning the higher-ups if need be. Especially if they genuinely believe they have a much better and more efficient way of doing things.
Although they may offend people around them by rocking the boat and changing the way things are done, in the long run, these will often prove beneficial to whoever they are working with.
This doesn’t mean that they go around changing things for the sake of doing so. They’re just motivated to do things better with the goal of improving the lives of everyone else.
However, this also comes with risks, which is why…
3) They dare to take risks.
It’s an occupational hazard for them. Pursuing radical ideas often leads to uncharted territory, and with that, the associated risks that come along with this.
At the workplace, this may result in risks to the business, reputation, financial performance and even staff morale. However, they believe that change is the only constant.
The risks are just challenges that have to be navigated to reach their end goal, which they believe is worth it in the end.
However, they do not dive into something blindly as well. Out of the box thinkers always consider multiple perspectives and outcomes before ascertaining a direction that will result in the highest probability of success.
4) They enjoy problem-solving.
These thinkers are often troubleshooting problems and refining ideas as well. They get the chance to flex their problem-solving muscles, which is something they enjoy immensely.
You’ll find them analyzing the problem from various angles as they consider multiple perspectives. From there, they’ll come up with more than one solution that attempts to address different concerns and suit a variety of backgrounds.
As such, they’re versatile in their thinking. While most of us may only have the mental capacity to do so much, out of the box thinkers are usually ruminating over a problem and taking into account a myriad of considerations.
They’re also willing to break free of traditional thinking and let their minds wander freely.
5) They are open-minded.
The ability to be flexible in their thinking stems from their open-mindedness. They love listening to different viewpoints and gathering feedback from different perspectives.
This allows them to gain fresh insights and ideas. They understand that each individual is unique and the differences in upbringing as well as experiences are what shape an individual’s thinking.
Which is why listening to more people from various backgrounds expands their depth of knowledge.
This also enables them to come up with solutions that address a myriad of considerations.
To them, there’s no such thing as the “right” way to do things or the “right” way of thinking.
6) They’re curious.
It also helps that they have an insatiable curiosity for the world. You’ll often hear them asking “Why?”
They’re driven to find out what makes things work the way they do, and to go a step further, to question why things are done a certain way. They may also ask how something can be done more efficiently.
And they’re relentless when it comes to satisfying their curiosity. They will try their best to get to the bottom of whatever topic or question their minds have latched onto. This may be why they’re usually voracious readers and consume a ton of information online.
They have a keen interest in a wide variety of topics because they’re just so curious to learn how things are done.
By expanding their knowledge bank, this helps them make more informed and insightful recommendations.
7) They’re resilient.
One of the challenges out of the box thinkers face is resistance from others who may not be receptive to such novel ideas. They may find their ideas ‘interesting’ but may not be willing to go along with what they have proposed.
Oftentimes, they will choose to proceed with the familiar option, because it’s safe.
Moreover, out of the box thinkers do also have their share of failures. Their ideas may simply not work, due to numerous factors.
But what sets them apart from the rest is their resilience. They never give up and will continue to push through.
In fact, they view failures as learning points or opportunities to flex those problem-solving muscles. They will try again and again until they succeed.
Sometimes, it’s during these periods of setbacks that they come up with the right solution.
8) They don’t conform.
Another trait that defines them is that they do not conform to societal norms. They’re independent thinkers who are always questioning things around them.
They’re willing to forgo tradition, no matter how long a particular process has been done a certain way. They dare to ask how things can be done better.
At the workplace, out of the box thinkers may share bold, transformative ideas that may not sit well with others, especially management, who prefer the traditional way of doing things.
Within communities, they may also forgo traditional practices that may anger older family members. This could include rituals usually performed at celebrations, like weddings or birthdays.
They would rather do things differently, which may be due to practical considerations in the modern context.
9) They’re visionary thinkers.
In general, out of the box thinkers are visionary. They’re driven by the idea that radical thinking can shape the world.
The idea of accepting things the way things are doesn’t sit well with them.
Of course, they don’t go around finding problems to fix for the sake of doing so.
Some people may tell them that they should get their heads out of the clouds.
But it’s when they have space and time to let their thoughts wander that they come up with the best ideas.
10) They enjoy spending time on their own.
Out of the box thinkers enjoy spending time on their own because they can let their thoughts wander.
Their mind may latch onto a particular idea or possibility for hours, days and even weeks. They also work best without any distractions as they’re left alone to do what they enjoy the most – problem-solving, and thinking.
Those in the art scene often try to work in pockets of time where they can simply create – whether they design, write, or perform for a living – it’s a time where they unleash their creative prowess.
By doing so, they’re able to hone their craft and work on what they’re passionate about without limitations set by everyone else.
It’s not easy to think out of the box.
While this skill may come naturally to some, most of us need to train to work outside what we’re familiar with.
It’s through this that we’re able to think up ideas that have the power to change our situations and even the environments we’re in.