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  • Writer's pictureAni

EFEX CENTER WISDOM MATTERS #3 – Resourceful – Think Inside The Box

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

Author: Ani.

Editor: David Thomas M. Ed (TESOL), Learning & Curriculum Trainer @EfeX Center

Resourcefulness is an ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties. There are five steps to being resourceful:

- Think Inside The Box

- Just Do It


- Don’t Despise Small Beginnings

- Resourcefulness Habits

Let’s look at the first step in being resourceful:

Thinking Inside The Box.

Thinking Outside of the Box is a well-known idiom that speaks of dreaming big and being surprisingly creative. But anyone can make awesome plans when there are no limitations like finances, time, or even gravity (think Mind Craft). Thinking Inside The Box is the opposite, and is much more creative. Planning without limitations can hinder our decision making processes and focus because the context could change at any time. “We don’t know where to start!” “We don’t know how to continue.”

Thinking inside the box, not outside the box, is the game-changer. Thinking inside the box sets the boundaries to work on right away, and the constraints become a great foundation for creativity.

Many good things come from working within limitations. Green Eggs and Ham is a much-loved classic by the world-renowned Dr. Seuss. The publishing company, Random House gave a constraint to Dr. Seuss to write using only 50 unique words for first graders. Green Eggs and Ham became Dr. Seuss’ best-selling book. Jeff Bezoz, the CEO of Amazon, famously coined the “Two Pizza Teams” rule: if a team can’t be fed with two pizzas, it’s too big, and it interrupts productivity. Teachers know this too well! If they assign too many students in one team, most likely only 3-4 students will work hard and carry the load of the rest of the team, which means the rest of them won’t be learning. Constraints and limitations lead to greater creativity and productivity.

How can we practice ‘thinking within the box’ at home?

Have you ever struggled with making decisions or being creative at home? You ask your family what they want to eat for dinner. And they say, ‘whatever’. Does it take a long time to make a decision? Do you get overwhelmed by having unlimited possibilities? You will get a different result if you say: “Ok, mommy will make a chicken dish for dinner. Would you like Ayam Bumbu Rujak or Ayam Kentucky FC style?” They will decide within two minutes and dinner will be ready in time.

Once you start thinking inside the box, you will notice the people who only encourage thinking outside the box. If your child are given a school assignment to write “anything you like” and the due date is “anytime before the end of the term”, you will notice that child won’t be productive! Your children will take so long to start their paper because of the ‘unlimited’ possibilities available. And, if the due date is ‘whenever’, they may think they have all the time in the world until suddenly it is the last day to turn it in! But if their teacher had told them the task needed to relate to living through the Covid-19 pandemic, then they will have some ideas to work with. Maybe they could write about the advantages and disadvantages of PSBB, or about the scientists making a Covid-19 vaccine.

And the easiest way to start thinking inside the box at home is to find projects you can do as a family. Set clear limitations as a challenge! Examples:

Find 5 easy recipes but allow only 3-4 ingredients for the children

to cook with your supervision.

Make bookends or storage boxes with things you have at home:

cardboard boxes, old clothes, old toys, a few kitchen items etc.

Write a skit with family members and everyone

has to play the part including the pets.

Make Saturday mornings ‘English only at home’.

Then you, parents, also need to stretch yourselves!

Use Google translate to say what you want to say,

and your children can correct your ‘funny’ phrases.

Thinking inside the box will cause you to notice other ‘inside the box’ thinkers. Watch or read about great innovators, explorers and entrepreneurs! There are many real and fictional characters in the EfeX English program novels who think inside the box. Be inspired by these resourceful people! You will also start to notice people around you who are resourceful within limitations. They might be your friends, your own parents, or even your helpful driver! Watch them. Learn from them. Discuss with your children. What did they do to overcome challenges and become creative and successful with a given task or an assigned goal?

Start Thinking Inside the Box today! You will be amazed at what your brain can think of when the boundaries are known. In our next video and article, we will unlock how to ‘Just Do It’. When we have Resourcefulness as a Mindset, we will always grow!

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