How do you get out of your comfort zone? How to you embrace the unknown? The known is a trap. Being too comfortable is like being in prison.
The academic world by nature involves a process of incremental progress. This is better than no progress at all. You will plan your work. Work one step at a time. Produce a Gantt chart with stages and timescales. Your goals will reachable and realistic. Over 9o% of the work going on universities throughout the world involves small incremental improvements on what has been done before. This approach is sensible because it is proven. It will get you a PhD. Its doesn’t involve any risk. So it is widely accepted and used worldwide. It is safe and comfortable. The vast majority of PhD thesis will gather dust in university libraries. Hardly anyone will read them. Now they keep them in an archive as a soft copy.
How do get a quantum leap in your research. You need a different approach.
A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown” – Denis Waitley
You progress by stepping into the “unknown”. The known is a trap. Being comfortable is a mental prison. It is worse than real prison. The bars to the cell are invisible. You don’t know they are there. How can you break them if you can’t even see them. For a researcher the unknown is the “Holy Grail”. Step into the unknown every second of your existence. You’ll experience real happiness and joy. Spectacular achievements will be yours.
What keeps you in research prison of the known?
What keeps you in the comfort zone? Why do you embrace certainty?
1. Feeling of certainty and comfort?
When you can predict what is going to happen you feel comfortable and relaxed. For example, if you increase concentration of a reactant the rate of reaction will increase. So you start changing the concentration a little beyond what has been done before. You try a different temperature range and see what happens but you have a strong feeling what you will get.
To get into the unknown and a new area ask questions constantly. Ignite your power of curiosity. What can you do that has never been done before? Where is the magical breakthrough? What will have the greatest impact? What would can you do in this project if I knew you can’t fail? How do can you achieve quantum leaps?
You have to be uncomfortable to breakthrough. You have to be dissatisfied with the current situation. You have to regularly break out of the comfort zone. Do things that are challenging and difficult.
2. Sugar coated comments from peers, loved ones and bosses.
Your friends will tell you even when you have had a slight improvement “it’s a fantastic achievement”. Tell the truth and then take action to improve. Fulfil your potential and risk making mistakes. Risk failure and set unrealistic goals. Act courageously. Steer your mind to something productive and amazing. If you do that then you will have ultimate joy and peace. You are responsible for your success. Failure is the seed of success. Learn from it and achieve even a greater success. You must be confident and positive in your goals and actions. When you get a patent granted or paper published in Science and Nature you’ve done great. Win a Nobel Prize and then no one can say anything but praise you. It’s like you have won 10 Oscars.
3. Your want to be liked by everyone. You want to be popular with your friends and colleagues.
In general, you will only achieve about the average of what your peer group. This is true of your earnings, lifestyle and your research publications and amount of effort you put in or the time you spend in the lab. Your habits, dress code and achievements will be similar to your peers. You tend to publish in the same journals with similar impact factors. Try for a quantum leap, go for the stars.
Get around people who make you feel uncomfortable. People who will challenge your thinking. People who will not tolerate average achievements. Spend time with researchers who are at a much higher level than you. Read about those who have won Nobel Prizes and published in highest quality journals. What will you have to do to be at the same level? How can you publish in the same journals as the top people in the field? What improvements can you make?
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”- Jim Rohn
Spend some time in the laboratories of the top people in the field. If that is not practical then collaborate with them. Speak to them on the phone or have a Skype conference. At research conference spend as much time as possible with them. You will come back home revitalised and more ambitious. Learn from them, ask for their advice.
4. Fear of failure
Are you sacred of trying new things jus in case you’ll fail? Scared that your peers will laugh at you. What’s the worst thing that will happen if you fail? Probably nothing, you won’t be any worse off. This listen to the greats like Edison.He did thousands of experiments before he made the electric bulb. What if he was afraid of failing? What if he gave up. We would like be living under candle light.
“I failed my way to success” - Thomas Edison
Great achievements have always bee proceeded by fear. You have to act even if you are terrified. Face you fears head on and get into action. Imagine how you would feel if you succeeded. This will give you more enthusiasm. Courageous action is a habit every greatest scienti. Edison was more successful than anyone else as an inventor because he failed more than anyone else. Never fear failure because you will learn something. You will go onto much greater things/
“Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success” - Napoleon Hill
5. Putting things off
This is when you know that you should do something but you still don’t do it. Failures put things off and live a mediocre existence. Don’t put things off. As Nike would say, “Do it now”. Now is always the best time to do anything.
“Those who are late will be punished by life itself.” ~ Mikhail Gorbachev
Develop a sense of urgency. Speed things up and you will succeed in anything you do. In research there is competition you need to act on your research ideas quickly. You don’t want to be beaten by the punch. You will need to publish before your competition. Get a patent granted before some one else applies for patent for similar ideas.
“The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang” – Mary Kay Ash
How to embrace the UNKOWN?
Here are some tips.
1. Set unrealistic goals.
What can you do that is 10x greater than what has been achieved before? What do you believe is impossible but if achievement only a small percentage would make you feel great?
What are your unrealistic goals in research? Write them down. Imagine achieving them. How would you feel? What would you see? What actions would you have to take? What belief, talents and actions will you need to have? What kind of a person will you have to become to achieve unrealistic goal?
“Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there” Bo Jackson
Imagine having already achieved your unrealistic goals. You need to condition mind for success. You will then easily follow through in your action.
2. Get excited
If you have watched any sports event you can tell whose going to win. Winning athletes will be focused and in the “zone”. Before you start anything get excited focus on what you are doing. In sports this is now a standard practice for all the major sports people. Mental reherasl incareses your changes of success. You get into an excited state by using your mental focus and imagination. Mentally rehearse succeeding in achieving your research goal.
“Do we need more time? Or do we need to be more disciplined with the time we have?”-Kerry Johnson
4. Take massive action
If you want to have major scientific breakthroughs you must take action. For spectacular achievements you must take massive action.
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do” van Goethe
No amount of goals setting, visualisation or imagination will replace the value of taking action on your goals. You must act and in a big way to reach you research goals.
5. Get the best out of your supervisors, mentors and role models
You have to use your talents and abilities to the full. You must always get advice and use the knowledge and experience of your supervisors, collagues and role models. However, you must take 100% responsible for your work and what you want to achieve. You must be the leader and take initiative.
“The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang” – Mary Kay Ash