Thinking Outside the Box

Tony Robbins has been credited with saying “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

I remember reading this quote and thinking about the importance of the 3 C’s – CHOICES, CHANCES AND CHANGE

I read a story some time ago about an Eagle. As a patriotic American, I happen to find the bald eagle to be a majestic, powerful symbol of strength. An Eagle has the longest life-span of any other in its species, having the ability to live up to 70 years. It’s not a given however.

At around the age of 40, an eagle’s long, flexible talons can no longer grab the prey it needs to eat. Its long, sharp beak bends. Its aged wings become heavy and thick and stick to its chest making it difficult for it to fly.

At this point, the eagle is left with only two options: die or endure the painful process of change.

For the eagle, this 5-month-long process involves it flying high into its mountain next in solitude. There, it knocks its beak against a rock until it falls off. The eagle waits for its beak to grow back and then proceeds to pluck out its talons. Once they’ve grown back, the eagle starts to pluck out its heavy feathers. Once these have grown back and the eagle is renewed, the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and lives for another 30 years. It is a matter of survival and life.

Not quite the peachy reinvention story we all love to hear about, but it better reflects the tumultuous, difficult transformations that we undergo during our lifetimes.


After reading this, I got to thinking about a hermit crab my son had when he was younger.

Every year, we’d visit the Youth Fair in Miami. At the end of the winding row of vendors in the Exhibit Hall, there was always an aquatic animal vendor.

My son didn’t mind enduring the long line of vendors because he knew he would not leave the fair without some weird creature. One year it was a goldfish, one year it was a newt, another year an albino frog and on this particular year he purchased a hermit crab.

There we were, leaving the fair with one very happy 10 year-old, with a critter box holding his hermit crab in one hand, and a bag full of food in the other.

Several weeks had passed and one evening he ran into our room crying hysterically screaming that his hermit crab had died. My husband and I headed over and sure enough, there it lay, out of its shell, seemingly lifeless.

My husband poked it and it moved, much to my son’s excitement. A Google search revealed that once a hermit crab outgrows his current shell, it exits in search of a new, larger shell. It was our job to head to the pet shop, purchase a larger shell and simply place it in the critter box, where it would eventually find its way inside.

Within a few hours, he did just that and this process continued for several cycles until it eventually did expire when it was time.

Within the confines of a critter box, it was safe for it to venture out, be exposed and out of the safety of its home. But out in the natural world, where there’s vulnerability at every turn, either to the elements or predators, a hermit crab’s instinct is to risk life and limb in order to change.

The alternative is staying its shell and being crushed by its own need to grow. Sound familiar?


Like the eagle, the hermit crab chooses survival and life. They may not have our anxieties and sense of reason, but they’re damn good role models if we let them be.

In both of these stories growth and survival requires venturing “out of the box,” if you will. Each one of us has a proverbial box. These boxes are difficult to deal with.

If we had a shell that physically no longer met our needs, like the hermit crab, we would simply exit and look for a larger one. But our boxes are complex – heavier, even. Our boxes are filled with limiting beliefs, fears, doubt and self-criticism. These negative thoughts stunt our growth and keeps us from becoming all that we are destined to be.

I challenge you to think about the size of your box, how confined you feel in your box, and what it is keeping you from leaving it behind.

How is it limiting you? What fears, doubts and limiting beliefs are you keeping in your box that is keeping you from your destiny?

Now, I’d like to encourage you to imagine yourself opening that box wide or, better yet, considering that there is no box at all. What would your life look like on the outside? What could you do if you knew you had nothing holding you back?

Remember: if things don’t challenge you, they don’t change you.

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