One of the most often used catch-phrases of the last decade is to think “outside the box”. I was watching a television show the other night where the lead character exclaimed that thinking outside the box is used so often that it is really should be referred to as thinking inside the box. I thought that was funny. I’ve previously joked that I want to think outside the circle, because it seems that almost everybody else wants to think outside the box.
That show got me thinking, what other clichés are past their prime and need to be put to rest? Being in sales, I am very familiar with a “win-win” situation. However that phrase has been so overused, that if you mention it now, you will just sound like a loser. Is your company really “cutting-edge”? Unless you invented something that never existed before, it’s probably not. Besides, “cutting-edge” sounds painful.
Does “value-added” really add value any longer? It’s time to retire that one too. Perhaps your firm endorses “best practices”. Even if it is the best practice ever, it’s still practice, right? Most athletes would agree that while practice is important, it’s how you play in the game that counts. After all, you can look great in practice and still lose the game. “Best performance” must surely be better than best practice, but I’m certainly not advocating for that to become the new catchy catch phrase.
Maybe you feel that you should “close early and often”, or perhaps you know people who are notorious for “picking low-hanging fruit”. Whether you are working “out-of-pocket” or “up to your eyeballs in alligators”, please remember not to overuse clichés. In fact, I suggest that you don’t use them at all.
Please don’t call yourself a “thought-leader” or let people know that you are available 24/7. Be creative, be original, and don’t be afraid to think outside the circle.