My new goal is to think inside the box, which is increasingly hard these days. At the same time,because so many people are trying to think outside the box, I get a lot of time to myself. On top of that, I begin to suspect that those who have decided to think outside the box are simply in transition between boxes. They have only just arrived at their new box, and are still unpacking, living out of boxes. So to speak.
Then there are those who can’t find their box.
I wonder how it is possible for a species to be as gregarious as we are, and yet have so many individuals who have no idea that their latest triumph of individuality is actually a sterling display of classic herd behavior. This is why people get outlaw tattoos, and their behavior is about as outlaw as buying all the corporate logoed apparel that Harley Davidson has, and then driving their bike to Sturgis for that great motorcycle rally.
One day the shepherd said, “Think outside the box!” and picked up one sheep and threw him into the side of the barn, whereupon the rest of the flock charged into the side of the barn themselves.
Note to sensitive readers: I am not approving of the behavior of this calloused shepherd. Indeed, such behavior has my severest disapprobation. Still, one may take away the lesson without, one hopes, any moral compromise.
The same kind of thing can be said about developing and maintaining your “brand.” Doing such a thing can be entirely innocent (as well as being the opposite of innocent in a calculating, bottom-feeding sort of way). But my interest here is to make larger point that there is a counterproductive element in play. If we suppose that a book on “developing your brand,” defined as defining yourself against all the background noise, can make the NYT best sillier list for a couple years, what then? What happens when every single businessman in America is standing, as instructed, out from the crowd? Right. We find there is a crowd of them doing that, all together, saying things like “Think outside the box, people.”
The message of the hypothetical book is that you should not be doing what everyone else is doing. The problem is that what everybody else is doing is buying the book.
This is a topic that is worthy of further discussion because it is of the highest relevance to preachers and their ministries. In the meantime, I will seek to stay unbranded. For is that not my brand?