“Stay away from those boxes,” said Alec Horinman, my leadership professor from my MBA program at Darden. It was a phrase he often repeated in class and one he recently sent to me when I wrote him to let him know how much his teaching influenced my career and life everyday. The boxes Alec refers to are: the boxes we put ourselves into, the boxes others put us into, and the boxes we put around others.
Boxes are tempting. They give us order, comfort, and predictability. With boxes, we can stop thinking because we’ve already passed judgement. But they’re dangerous. They close us off to possibility, change, and growth. I’d rather take comfort in possibility, change, and growth. They are the things we can really count on.
Put away the boxes. Better yet, burn them. You don’t need them, nor do you need anyone who’s intent on using them.