Connecting the Dots

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Connect these dots with a minimal number of contiguous straight lines:

The figure above is a puzzle, popular among inspirational speakers and creative thinking coaches. We are told to connect these dots using the minimum number of straight connected lines. When the solution is shown (usually after we have failed to devise it on our own) then we're told that this is Thinking outside the box!

I disagree. That way of thinking about this approach is, itself, reaffirming the fallacy that those nine dots are bound by some invisible box. We have a cognitive bias to imagine a boundary surrounding them ... and to minimize the perimeter of that boundary.

For me, the better lesson to be gleaned here is that there is no box!

Surely I might be accused of picking at nits over this distinction. But, to me, it is the difference between trapping myself in a new (cognitive) box and truly learning to challenge our implicit assumptions and limitations. We are, each of us, subject to cognitive biases. It takes ongoing effort to overcome these ... to see where we are limiting ourselves to stay within walls that aren't really there.