What Is Outside The Box?

Boxes.  Why do we like to create so many boxes?   We, as humans, are the creators of boxes.  We look to make them perfect.  We place things within the boxes and then store our boxes inside other boxes.  We partition our land in boxes.  We stake claim to boxes.  Our homes are boxes that are separated by rooms that are boxes with closets that are boxes, cabinets that are boxes, views of the outside many times shaped like boxes.  We are the owner of some boxes and we are allowed to dwell in other people’s boxes.

And the boxes of our workplaces.   They have become null and void of color, character, vegetation, uniqueness of any sort.  We have removed private personal spaces within the office environment.  We call this the “Open Workplace”.  A place believed to be where we can collaborate.  Many are grey and have windows that illuminate the sterile non-human environment.  They are deemed “modern”.  Yet is that what is needed to be creative and collaborative?  Don’t some of the best ideas come from the ideas shared outside of these places?

Outside of the boxes we create is the imperfect unique world that nature creates.   When we think of being creative the phrase “think outside the box” comes to mind yet we put our “creatives” in society in boxes and ask them to create.

What I would love to see is a workplace that is a representation of all those that are a part of it.  That when those that occupy the space during the day can be felt even in their absence.  That we eliminate the big blank walls and sterile monitors and invite the “creatives” to paint a mural that represents who occupies the space.  That we bring plants back into the workplace to allow for the natural cleansing of the air and production of oxygen we need to live and breathe.

That we give people back their desks where they can display what makes them unique.  That through that we create the ice breakers we need to be able to learn about each other’s life outside of the box that has us captured during the day.

That we, as humans, leave the box and explore together and notice the imperfections that surround us.  That by doing so we become more creative and understand that imperfections are good and should be classified as uniqueness and something that we strive for.  That it is through this uniqueness that we truly get outside of the box and can create something totally different.  Something that has never been thought of before.  Something that is not just the copying and building on what has been done before. Something that is completely different because those that have contributed to its creation were given the freedom to NOT be perfect.  To celebrate their uniqueness.  To choose to be different.  To be able to express their thoughts with open minds with those that surround them.  That then and only then can we break free from the boxes that we create and truly create something that feeds the human condition instead of trying to box people in.

Ah, the freedom to create the imperfect and unique.  The free flow of ideas, thoughts, concepts that are never quite finished and ever-changing and developing because each person is allowed to contribute.

What a beautiful world it would be.  How do we get started?


Raissa Urdiales
Raissa Urdiales
Raissa lived most of her life along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. She currently lives in the quiet city of Tega Cay, South Carolina, just across the border from the very active art community of Charlotte, North Carolina. Raissa has not always considered herself as an artist. She spent a great portion of her adult life staring into computer screens and managing computer system implementations and upgrades in the traditional corporate setting. It was through a chance paint night that she discovered her passion for painting. On her 51st birthday, she treated herself to some acrylic paints and brushes and has not stopped painting since. She balances her passion for creating with her day job as a systems analyst. In the wee hours of the morning, you will find her painting before she immerses herself in the technology that is consuming the world today. Although Raissa does not have formal training in the arts she is very conscious of the benefits it has on the human psyche. She holds a Bachelor's of Science majoring in Psychology where she focused her studies on Organizational Psychology. Through her corporate career, she has learned how to strike a balance between that which provides monetary reward and that which fulfills us as humans. For her, this balance is obtained through painting, writing, and exercise. She is currently a member of the Guild of Charlotte Artists where she exhibits select pieces during the quarterly art shows in and around the Charlotte Metropolitan Area. She has also submitted and is featured regularly in the Light Space & Time online gallery. When she is not painting or working with computer systems, she is writing. She currently has a column with BIZCATALYST 360° named “Artful Being” where she writes on topics both in and out of her corporate life to help others gain balance on what it is to be human.

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  1. I love your idea. I especially love the mural to capture the humanness breathed into that space. Let’s create an environment that inspires. Of course the toughest part is finding a good compromise because what inspires one may have the opposite affect on another. But try it. Invite questions. Reward effective dialog. Begin with the work environment. And yes. There will be pushback. There always is.

    Side note: Of all the places I’ve visited, my favorites are the small towns where murals have been painted on their buildings.

  2. Well said, Raissa. In addition to all the physical boxes, we further compound life by consciously and unconsciously classifying people into pre-defined boxes, including ourselves. Of course, as noted, there is a certain comfort and feeling of safety being in a box. It provides walls and shelter. It keeps us emotionally in check. There is a factor of the unknown and thus perhaps unsafe outside our known boxes. I’ve never been a fan of the open office concept. It makes people feel like part of a herd and not individually important.

    • Oh so true Ken! Never thought of the boxes of culture and the boxes of organizational charts that line up to make up a societal hierarchy. Something more for me to ponder. And the open office spaces need to be banished….I love some of the work the Susan Cain is doing relating to how they are less than ideal for the “creatives” and “introverted”.

  3. Besides being a holder of things, I think of a box as a compartment, as in we “box up” our feelings or we are feeling “boxed in.” When people say “think outside the box” I want to say there is no box, it is an imaginary creation in your mind.

  4. Great article Raissa! I enjoyed your awesome description of a creative workspace! I was recently visiting a big corporation here in CT where I will be doing a painting event soon. As I was shown to the person I had an appointment with, we walked though a huge room I (box) and I couldn’t help but notice all the grey cubicles (smaller boxes) in that space. There was so many! Some bigger, some smaller…but all grey and un-inviting. I would love to bring some of your ideas to them! The space definitely needs color!

    • I think it’s amazing that a company will be having a painting event!!!! I have made that suggestion before and it is refreshing to hear that someone is doing just that! I would also love to talk to you further about some ideas to bring life back to our workplaces. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  5. Raissa, I never really noticed “the boxes” in our life, but you are absolutely right. We live in physical and MENTAL boxes. Thinking outside the box can be a scary prospect for some people while others find it challenging to think “inside the box.” I am going to watch for more boxes. Personally, I like having one foot in the box and one out. Thanks for making me think outside the box.

  6. wow we get started by tapping into the wisdom of who we are by listening to our inner wisdom and daring to be different- walk to the sound of the different drummer. Break the mould and live from love, daring too dream again xxoo