Get a pen and some paper and copy down the nine dots arranged in a square below. To solve the problem, you need to 1. join all nine dots by drawing no more than four straight lines. 2. The straight lines must be continuous (you must not lift your pen from the paper once you start drawing.) Don't read any farther until you have tried to solve the problem.
If you have managed to solve it by now, than great! You are on the right track. If you are not there yet, I applaud your patience and your hunger to learn--keep trying! Here is a clue to help you: If you're like most people, you have tried to solve the problem by keeping your lines inside of the "box" that is created by the dots. But, if you look at the instructions (and the title of this post), there is no requirement to do this. There is no requirement to stay inside of the box. So, have another go at solving the problem, allowing yourself to draw outside of the box. Again, do not read any further until you have either solved it, or given up...
...For sure, by now, you have either solved the problem, or completely thrown away your sanity. You may now click on this link for the solution to be revealed.
The idea in it's most basic form is this: in order for your creativity, your full potential, and complete and constant progress to occur in your life, you always need to challenge your own assumptions and look at things from a fresh and seemingly radical angle. Break out of conventional thinking, tradition, and doctrine, and take off the blinders formed by possible past experiences. We can't solve the problem as long as we are thinking "inside the box" created by our assumptions. Once we start to think "outside the box", we open up more possibilities. It may not necessarily be easier to find the solution, but you have almost written a whole new equation, given opportunity for that solution to slap you in the face, and you have opened the proverbial doors to revelation. Think outside of the box today.
Extra note: The usual way of presenting this problem is for a individual to only give the first set of instructions ( like I did), but without mentioning the fact that you are allowed to go outside the box with your line. Nearly everybody completely fails to solve the problem. Also,unlike me, most individuals do not give out the second clue--they simply reveal the solution only to cast astonishment and protest from an audience : "That's not fair! You didn't tell us we could go outside the box!" Typically they receive this response: "Aha! But I didn't tell you that you couldn't go outside the box!"
Tell people to go outside of the box in their life, show them that it is okay. Almost everybody is bound by rules, tradition, and dogmatic assumptions even though those instructions are not truly present.When your problem is inside the box, sometimes the only possible solution is outside of the box. Fortunately, this is so much more than just a business cliche. It's the reality of an extraordinary life. Find the boundaries of your box...and learn as fast as you can to get out from under those limitations.Not all truth and reality is going to be outside of your box, in fact, most of it you may already have with you. However, all truth is important, and I wouldn't want to leave any of it out.