Do you see 16 or 30 squares within this box?

I ask because this simple 4 x 4 grid pretty much represents the paradox between capability and the realisation of true potential for some, whether it be as an individual, part of a team or in cases, a whole company.

The truth is, there are 30 squares within this one box but typically some people will only see the obvious 16 and miss the rest.

Part of the reason for this is that a) we’re conditioned to think in a certain way and b) we’re often in a rush to get an answer or ‘think’ we already know it.

If we slow down and take a closer look however, we’ll see that the outer rim makes one square, as do the middle four squares within the grid.

Each corner of four also makes up another square and the same goes if you start at the top left of the grid, go along three squares, down three, back three and up three.

There are also another four squares if you look at the middle of each rim, i.e. go in one square from the top left and then just go down two, along two, up two and back two.

So how many additional squares did I add after the original 16?

The answer is actually none because they were already there to see. All I did was bring them to your attention, no tricks or magic but just opening you up to a different way of thinking and looking at things.

This Mind Hack sums up the life of some people and businesses that only ever see and use the 16 squares. They may utilise more or less than 16 at times but more often than not, they fail to maximise their full potential by seeing and using the other 14, i.e. the true potential that’s already there within them, waiting to be used.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘Think Outside The Box’ probably more times than you care to remember, maybe you even use it yourself and think this is ‘the’ correct way to think?

Personally, I hate clichés because they exemplify the kind of conditioned thinking that stops people looking inside the box at times to uncover the potential that’s already there.

In my career, I’ve seen so many businesses waste time, energy and money looking outside the box instead of looking inside and making it more effective and profitable by using the full set of resources and potential (their people) that’s right in front of their eyes. The bosses that run these companies or teams don’t need more insights, they just need better eyesight and Mind Hacks help retrain the brain to think and see things differently in this respect.

They can stop people just repeating phrases like ‘think outside the box’ without giving genuine thought or applied knowledge to challenge what the masses just repeat like parrots.

Or more to the point, acting like robots in autopilot because they don’t take the time to think independently and more creatively.

For example, I had an executive director of a global organisation tell me that this very first Mind Hack from my e-playbook, woke him up and altered his thinking about how he should be building on the strengths of his teams rather than diluting them by constantly asking them to ‘look outside of the box’ for the magic bullet that would solve their problems or meet their challenges. Added to this, I’d wager his people were also more than happy that they didn’t have to listen to the same old cliché over and over again.

My own experience of working in the world of larger corporates in particular is that these clichéd sayings are rife and far from inspiring or motivating people, they just drive them nuts and in some cases, people will just tune out or switch off completely.

The beauty of Mind Hacks that challenge conventional thinking however, is that they’re so simple and yet so enlightening in terms of opening the mind to new ways of thinking and seeing things, without any real effort being involved.

Mind Hacks are also great ways to use more of our untapped brain power and I could go on all day about the 3 specific areas of the brain that most people don’t use and yet, can make so much difference to our success. These are covered in my e-playbook and online course too but that’s for another day.


There’s often so much more potential in you, your team, your business or your current situation than you can immediately see and looking outside rather than inside is not always the best way.

There are times to think inside the box, times to think outside of it and times not to get in the box in the first place so that you’re free of any limitations.



Author of Strong Minds E-Playbook, Online Program & Podcast on Mind Hacking

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