Living in a box?

Is the headline clear enough! This post is a challenge to get out of your BOX!

Sure you’ve heard discussion before about getting / thinking outside your box, but did you ever think a SNAIL would teach you a lesson on doing it? The picture of this snail on a group of concentric circles (CC license from Jaysk) will do exactly that.

Hang on a minute what have a snail and circles got to do with living in a BOX?

A LOT.  In life and nature there are no such things as straight lines, so I’m pulling apart the concept of living in your box, because in life things tend to be curved (just think of the curve balls that life throws at as from time to time). So you are not living in a box, you are living in circles; your circle of friends, your circle of acquaintances, your circle of knowledge, your circle of influence, your circle of concern, your circle of habits.

Each of the circles in this photo represent something.

Let’s look at the circles!

We’ll start by taking a walk (or a glide if you are the snail!) around the middle circle.. The middle circle represents your life NOW, and you can look at it from all the perspectives above: ie your current circle of friends, acquaintances, influence etc. If you keep walking (gliding) around in this circle what do you see/get? You see/get what you have always seen/got and nothing changes.

What would happen to our snail friend if it spent it’s time gliding around in this inner circle?

It would shrivel up and die from a lack of nourishment.

A lot of people are risk averse, and because they are risk averse this is how they spend their time. They get comfortable, and this circle becomes their comfort zone. The longer they spend walking (gliding) around in this circle the more comfortable it gets. The more comfortable it gets the less likely it is to grow, and the more difficult it becomes for things to get inside this circle as well, and if things can’t get in or get out to nourish this circle then over time it will atrophy as well.

I’m not saying that maintaining a close circle of friends and acquaintances isn’t important, it most definitely IS, I’m just saying don’t turn the boundary of this inner circle into a fortress.

Stopping the boundary from becoming a fortress involves  RISK!

Everyone, and everything outside of that inner circle represents a risk of some sort.

Just like the snail we all have drives, instincts etc that challenge us to step outside that inner circle. Sometimes we let what we are afraid of decide what our choices will be (we have examined CHOICES  in this series part1, part2, part3, part4, part 5, part 6)

By gliding outside that inner circle, what has our friend the snail exposed itself to?

Unfamiliar terrain…. the colour of the ground changed, potential sources of nourishment, potential exposure to danger, potential exposure to opportunity, potential exposure to……… you get the point I’m sure.

So each of the concentric circles in the photo represents a level of risk.  The closer to your inner circle the smaller the level of risk. But each circle also represents a level of opportunity, the further away from your inner circle the greater the opportunity to…..

Expand your circles.

If you take a risk what will happen?

Along the way you will hit obstacles, the terrain will be rough, you’ll come across unpleasant people, you may feel small, you may feel inadequate, you my feel ignorant,  but ultimately you’ll realise there is a lot more out there in the big wide world beyond your inner circle, and what will happen?

If you extend your circle of acquaintances, then it is highly likely that you will extend your circle of friends, and when you extend your circle of friends, you are extending your circle of influence.

The same applies to other circles, take for instance your circle of knowledge.

To illustrate this I will use a quote (I can’t attribute it because I cannot remember the source, but it’s not my original thought)……. “the greater the circle of my knowledge the greater the circumference of my ignorance”. Interesting isn’t it?  So if I accept that I need to learn new things, then as I learn new things, my circle of knowledge expands but so does my circle of ignorance…. is this a bad thing?

Put simply NO!

Why you ask?

It is not a bad thing because…… you realise that you need to continue to learn new things, and you realise that everything you know is part of a bigger system and that nothing works in isolation. So how do you learn new things?

You have to engage in new environments and with new people…. so what happens….. you guessed it… you expand your circle of acquaintances therefore potentially your circle of friends, your circle of influence etc…. and the ultimate outcome in expanding your circles….. your comfort zone grows and gets considerably bigger along the way!

Did you notice the last circle in the photo?

Of course I did you say!  Did you really, what colour was it?  (Go on, have another look, I’ll wait here while you check it out!)

The last circle is blue and it represents your potential.

Did you notice something else about that circle…….it has NO BOUNDARY, but to get there from the inner circle you have to pass through the risk taking circles. Our lives are the same, to reach our potential we have to take risks to expand our circles.

One last tip from our friend the snail.

The snail produces its own lubricant and it lays down a trail of it along the way. (What do you mean YUCK!)…

That lubricant helps it to travel over rough terrain and to not get stuck….  think about it… what is our equivalent of this lubricant?

Our lubricant is GOOD WILL, we can and should produce plenty of our own, and we can and should lay down a trail of it along our journey in life. By acting with good will in all circumstances and leaving a trail of it through life, it will help us glide over our own rough terrain and not get stuck (because after all we will have a bigger circle of friends, knowledge etc)

So are you going to stay in your comfort zone, and continue walking (gliding) around your inner circle, or are you going to get busy expanding your circles? Let me know in the comments…..