We have all heard the saying "think outside the square" or "think outside the box" --- but what does that actually mean?

It comes from a puzzle where you have to join nine dots --- to solve it you literally have to "think outside the square".

Draw three rows of three dots

o o o

o o o

o o o

Join all nine dots using only four straight lines, without lifting your pen off the page.

Without spoiling it, most people make an assumption that they need to stay within a perceived "box" created by the nine dots.

If you challenge that assumption, and then ask "How else can I approach it?" you will be able to solve it more easily. The same thinking applies in challenges you face in day-to-day issues.

If you are already one step ahead and know how to do it with four lines, I challenge you to join all nine dots with only three straight lines without lifting your pen!

This may seem harder and the trick is to again challenge your assumptions of how you perceive the nine dots.

How about with one straight line? Yes, it can be done.

A colleague, Dr Robert Alan Black, has a collection of at least a hundred ways you can join the nine dots. What suggestions do you have?

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