Research is a bit like setting sail in the general direction of a rich shoreline, and then adding or building a new port in the exact location your ship finally docks. Not a bad plan, when you think of rich discoveries that research will bring to those who steer their vessels toward interesting and new destinations.
Perhaps the best way to satisfy curiosity about any topic is to put off your imagination or rigid opinions about the topic. Instead look for data to support two opposite sides – as a way to understand both better. In other words, open your mind’s eye to possibilities you had not before considered. Can you see how new discoveries will likely drown when researchers go after topics as a way to prove and support one side only – their own?
When people simply search out facts only to prove their pre-conceived beliefs, research loses its discovery, revokes its wonder and steers the brain away from new insights or applications. Mind-bending research ideas often lie hidden in the opposite waters – in open seas – across from prior assumptions and comfortable opinions. How so?
Let’s say you begin to research a topic … Lectures are effective tools for university and training sessions.
Now let’s say you have very strong opinions about effective lectures based on personal experiences and what others tell you. Or perhaps you train people through talks and lectures. Perhaps you use humor, get good feedbacks and come away from a lecture hall feeling fulfilled. So you search for and find facts to support this widely accepted view. Armed with facts, you simply affirm how lectures are here to stay….
Some researchers use former assumptions to find facts that prove their prior perceptions. After all, they’d heard many good lectures and they see secondary schools, universities and workplaces use them with decent results. So what else is there to know? Why not simply add these few facts to support what they already know to be true? No additional discoveries can possibly be made, they conclude. Or can they?
Now let’s say you add the exact opposite to your research topic … Lectures are ineffective tools for university and training sessions.
As soon as you stated this opposite you created new open waters and a wonderful research dilemma to explore! Can you see the value in sailing into even choppier waters at times? You may not have experienced or considered the problems lectures can present to the human brain. First, the research against lectures is rather new, and secondly, lectures benefit speakers more than listeners – which is enough to keep them alive. Why not find facts to genuinely support this opposite view, and you’ll be off to affirm new conclusions that balance a research project. Can you see advantage for research treasures that await you in different waters?
On this topic, for instance a trip into open seas might jog your memory about boring lectures, and you could visualize talks with very few takeaways for any listener? Or you might recognize how you learn more from moving, and doing. When opposites begin to move your sailboat into fresh waters, your mind can often grasp alternative facts. In this case you’d see how lectures actually work against human brains.
Oops! Do you still feel you want to support one side only – and show only how effectively lectures work for delivering information? What about readers who know and want to read more about the ineffective lecture problems? What about those who looked to your research results with a plan to change outmoded practices where they work? Think of the adventure people miss when they paddle mere punts in murky waters … compared to sea worthy vessels that navigate vast seas, and you’ll see the challenge of research to see and report an opposite view.
Would you agree that smart skills could help you explore the opposite of your original ideas on even somewhat controversial topics?
Research is like sailing your vessel into open seas. Expect to see feel the sun on your shoulders and winds in your sails as you open to new ideas that lie hidden in the opposite of your topic – ideas you have yet to explore and apply as a way to test their reliability.
Bring an openness to the opposite of your idea … and watch where your vessel lands you. Then build newer, more prosperous ports that show readers treasures you gathered from both sides of an ocean. Hold back biases and expect research to give you the sail of a lifetime – regardless of the topic that steers your vessel to new destinations.