Running out of the box

You’ve heard the saying, thinking out of the box? Last week, I was thinking about “running out of the box.” I will explain that in a minute.

When we say, “thinking out of the box,” we are generally referring to going beyond the traditional, being creative, being unconventional, allowing ourselves to imagine new ways of doing things. It conjures thoughts of not being constricted to how something was done before. Interestingly enough, that was part of the attraction to voters to the current occupant of the oval office. His voters thought he could shake things up by not being confined to how things had always been done. What they misunderstood or at least didn’t appreciate is that there is some benefit to knowing how things have been done in order to form a baseline for how to move forward so that you can be successful. Never underestimate the value of preparation, that doesn’t negate thinking out of the box. Failing to prepare could mean preparing to fail. Ask the Republicans about the AHCA not having the votes.

Gratefully, the lack of preparation met up with a really awful health plan and it caused the failure. For now, that failure results in millions of people keeping much needed health care. I see that as a success not a failure.

So, now what is “running out of the box?” As I have been doing my daily exercise routine in my neighborhood, I have tried to improve my pace. Sometimes I start out slow … having low energy or motivation to get going. I noticed that when I start out slow, that not only are my minutes per mile high but then getting my pace down throughout the whole routine is a lot harder. But, when I start out with a faster pace, actually start running out of the box, my pace is quicker throughout and even if I slow down a little bit later, it is not as hard to maintain a better pace. Starting slower keeps it slower and makes it harder to get the pace down. But if I run out of the box, start with a quick pace, I can be faster throughout that day’s exercise.

It is sort of an analogy for other life situations.

This reminded me of advice that my husband and I gave to our kids when they started high school and college. We said to start out strong because the grade point averages (GPA) of their freshman and sophomore years in high school would be the foundation for the GPA that eventually would be on their transcript when they applied to college. We stated it would be much harder to make up low grades made in the first two years. Essentially, they needed to be running out of the box. It is a lot harder when you start out slow and then have to make up for mistakes, it takes longer and you have to work harder to pull up the numbers.

March Madness is another example of running out of the box. The teams that ran out of the box were far more likely to be on the winning end when the game was over than those who started out slow. If a team was slow out of the gate, having a huge deficit to make up was just a big hill to climb in the second half of the game. The sweet sixteen and elite games were generally very competitive and fun to watch. But I noticed that those teams who were running out of the box kept running at a pace that maintained a focus on making every basket count. They had to. There was no second chance. It was win or go home. Those players were moving on to the Final Four or going home to decide if they were still college students or making the leap to the NBA. Their season record no longer had any relevance. Running out of the box was going to get them to the Final Four.

So here’s my thought for the week. With the many things that are going on, with the frenzy of the politics, the unusual weather (doesn’t matter if you think climate change is a hoax or not), with the temporary reprieve on health care … we have to be thinking about running out of the box. This is not the time to sit and wait to see what happens. The past weekend was just about all the time we could spare to breathe. It’s a new week … time to run out of the box again.

Choose your area to focus on. We don’t have to try to boil the ocean and we don’t each have to exhaust ourselves with trying to stay up on every issue. But, we need coverage on the broad reach of topics important to our communities. Talk to your huddle, your friends and divide up the list of areas to focus on. And, once you have those three or four areas that you are going to focus on, you have to be running out of the box. It will take too long to catch up otherwise.

Our pace will be slow if we aren’t starting out at the top of the game. The Republicans will sabotage the Affordable Care Act now that they failed to pass their own health care plan so we need to do things to shore it up in the states or take action to make it better. Resistance has its effectiveness but some of what we will need to do is offense. Read up on what is going on locally and within your state, that is how the Republicans cleaned our clock in state legislatures during the period of 2010-2016. There are Indivisible Groups in every state and every Congressional District and a quick internet search (

This Republican Administration is also running out of the box. Bannon is wasting no time in deconstructing Democracy and the US government. Much of what he is doing, he is doing without fanfare and spotlights. Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC often remind us to watch what politicians do not what they say. This is a real lesson for the administration of the 45th President. Bannon and Kushner are the instruments of a major deconstruction running out of the box. The task forces, the executive orders, the SWAT teams, the planted agents / spies at each Federal agency who are reporting back to the Executive Branch … they are all in place to be the eyes and ears of Bannon so he can do things without Congress or the American people knowing about it until it’s already done. These guys are running out of the box. The pace is fast and we will be behind if we don’t follow every day. There is a new scandal every day, but there is also a new action by them every day.

What can we do? Get to running. Choose your battles, but run. Get your facts, but run. You don’t have to do it all but what you choose to do, do it fully. Go at it with all you can. Rest for a weekend when you need to but that rest period will be okay because your pace was strong enough to keep your overall pace strong. When you start running out of the box, you have a strong finish for the second half of the game.


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