My 25+ Favorite Think Outside the Box Quotes

Get motivated, leave your fears behind, and escape the status quo with these inspirational quotes about thinking and living outside the box.


One Stupid Quote

Here’s one think outside the box quote you won’t find anywhere…

“Follow along, don’t take risks, just keep your head down and work, and you’ll achieve your dreams.”

Nobody Ever

But for some reason that’s how we’re wired to want to act.

Not everyone, though. Not the leaders, philosophers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and authors behind these think outside the box quotes.

Here’s a collection of my all-time favorites, arranged into a kind of manifesto that pushes me to think and live outside the box (and not according to the stupid quote above).

Now’s the Time

“There’s one thing worse than change and that’s the status quo.”

John le Carre

“The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.”

Bob Iger

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

Jim Rohn

“If what you’ve done over the past 5 years hasn’t worked for you, then change what you’re doing or the next 5 years will be the same”

John Carlton, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together

“The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”

Muhammed Ali

“You have tried to be superior in an ordinary realm. Now you must learn to be ordinary in a superior realm.”

Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives

“Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision.”

Tony Robbins

“There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!”

Friedrich Nietzsche

You Have the Potential

“A trail is for one. But one has to make it.”

Oliver Sacks

“If you can’t change the status quo, make the status quo, change.”

Royce White

“We can create our own potential.”

Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise

“There’s no cell type that geniuses have that the rest of us don’t.”

Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise

“Great creators don’t necessarily have the deepest expertise but rather seek out the broadest perspectives.”

Adam Grant, Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World

“The odds of producing an influential or successful idea are a positive function of the total number of ideas generated.”

Dean Simonton

“A genius is the one most like himself.”

Thelonious Monk

Don’t Get Trapped in Your Own Closed Mind

“Those who can’t change their minds can’t change anything.”

George Bernard Shaw

“The greatest of faults… is to be conscious of none.”

Thomas Carlyle

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions’”

Leonardo Da Vinci

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

Stephen Hawking

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

William James

“The brain is designed with blind spots, optical and psychological, and one of its cleverest tricks is to confer on us the comforting delusion that we, personally, do not have any.”

Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)

“An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”

Orlando Aloysius Battista

“When we learn something new, we don’t go from ‘wrong’ to ‘right.’ Rather, we go from wrong to slightly less wrong. And when we learn something additional, we go from slightly less wrong to slightly less wrong than that, and then to even less wrong than that, and so on. We are always in the process of approaching truth and perfection without actually ever reaching truth or perfection.”

Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

“Strong beliefs, loosely held.”

Marc Andreessen

Don’t Fear Failure or What Others Think

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”

Vincent Van Gogh

“The status quo feels comfortable and steady because much of the choice has been squeezed out.”

Chip and Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

“Becoming original is not the easiest path in the pursuit of happiness, but it leaves us perfectly poised for the happiness of pursuit.”

Adam Grant, Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World

“It didn’t take guts to follow the crowd, that courage and intelligence lay in being willing to be different.”

Jackie Robinson

“It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable.”

Isaac Asimov

“Operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes—makes you smarter”

Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown.

“Even if you fail at your ambitious thing, it’s very hard to fail completely. That’s the thing people don’t get.”

Larry Page

“He who jumps into the void owes no explanation to those who stand and watch.”

Jean-Luc Godard

“You see what is possible, but imitators just see what you have done.”

Brad Smith, The Birth of a Brand

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

George Addair

“When something goes wrong in your life just yell ‘PLOT TWIST’, and move on.”

Molly Weiss

Be Curious

“The success of a culture hinges on whether or not that culture remains endlessly curious. If we are a culture that thinks we know everything we are destined for failure. But if we remain endlessly curious we’re going to be ok.”

Donald Miller in podcast with Adam Savage

“People believe thinking outside the box takes intelligence and creativity, but it’s mostly about independence. When you simply ignore the box and build your reasoning from scratch, whether you’re brilliant or not, you end up with a unique conclusion—one that may or may not fall within the box.”

Tim Urban, The Cook and The Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce

“[Great creative minds] think like artists but work like accountants.”

NY Times writer David Brooks

“A creative solution is the response to a creative problem”

J.W. Getzels, Problem Finding: a Theoretical Note

“Once you have figured out the right question to ask, you are halfway to the right answer.”

Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise

“The deeper the problems found and posed (and in due course solved) the greater the human achievement”

J.W. Getzels, Problem Finding: a Theoretical Note

Be Different to Be Successful

“Only is better than best.”

Srinivas Rao

“You can’t be normal and expect abnormal returns.”

Jeffrey Pfeffer

“It is impossible to produce superior performance unless you do something different.”

John Templeton

“The beginning of greatness is to be different, and the beginning of failure is to be the same.”

Roy Whittier

“Escape competition through authenticity. When you’re competing with people it’s because you’re copying them. The more authentic you are the less competition you’re going to have.”

Naval Ravikant on his Naval podcast

“There’s a benefit to being naive about the norms of the world—deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do.”

Derek Sivers, Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur

“It’s good not to follow the herd. Go the other way. If everyone’s going that way, you go this other way. Yeah, you’re gonna stumble. You’re gonna stumble but you’re also gonna stumble upon an idea no one came up with.”

Robert Rodriguez

“…the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits.”

Isaac Asimov

“To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think Outside the Box to Change the World

“The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.”

Fritjof Nansen

“You can gauge the limitations of a person’s life by the size of the problems that get him or her down. You can measure the impact a person’s life has by the size of the problems he or she solves.”

Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

George Bernard Shaw

“In the quest for happiness, many of us choose to enjoy the world as it is. Originals embrace the uphill battle, striving to make the world what it could be.”

Adam Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

One Final Quote

This is my all-time favorite think outside the box quote, and one I try to live by every day:

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

Oscar Wilde

Think Outside the Box: The Manifesto

Bringing together the themes of these collected think outside the box quotes:

Now’s the time. You have the potential so don’t get trapped in your own closed mind and don’t fear failure or what others think. Be curious and be different to be successful. Think outside the box to change the world.

Get out there and put those words into action.

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👋 I'm Chris. Everything you read on is my fault. This site is like a gym for your comfort zone, full of challenges to make your status quo sexier. Join my 'Consider This' newsletter for a fun new challenge every 10 days. Try it!

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