ON BECOMING A RESEARCHER
“Can everyone be a researcher?” I have encountered this question so many times in my life. My answer is always the same, “no not everyone can be a researcher, because many people just refuse to develop the research mindset. But yes, if you are willing to develop a researcher’s mindset, then yes you can be a researcher.” Now the question is that can everyone develop that mindset? The answer is yes, of course anyone can develop that mindset. This doesn’t negate my first point, that not everyone can be a researcher, but if everyone can develop the mindset needed to be a researcher, then yes everyone can be do it. Therefore, I encourage you to develop this new thought process and mindset.
THE RESEARCHER’S THOUGHT PROCESS:
Why some scientists are successful researchers while some are ordinary or below average? The key difference is the mindset they have, they have developed a thought process that encourages them to think in the following manner;
WHY AND HOW IT HAPPENED?
If you look around yourself, you will notice that most people are usually focused on what happened. If you go to party, a dinner, or at a workplace, or a classroom. What usually people are discussing? The usual mindset is, “did you hear what happened?” “Did you watch the news last night?” “Did you see what government is doing”? “Did you know the John and Jessica had a breakup?” An average mind is always looking for a what happened and is encouraging others to be thinking in this pattern of what happened. That is why the news channels are successful because they focus on what is happening or what happened?
However, great researchers around the world have inquisitive thinking, they have developed this thinking by continuously asking two questions about everything: why did it happen? And how did it happen? Now do you see the difference between the mindset of an ordinary person and a researcher? The researcher is always looking for the root cause and focused on why and how? For example, an ordinary person will talk something like this, “Do you know President is building a wall on the border?” A researcher will say, “why is the president building a wall? Let’s analyze?” And “how can we build such a long wall? Is it even possible” “how will he fund this project?” And “how can it impact the country politics and economy?”
Now you see the difference. The researchers are asking a why and a how in all circumstances. When they hear something, they have developed a habit to think in terms of a why and a how.
What I want all of you to do is to start thinking in terms of a why and a how in all circumstances. Even in a routine conversation, or a meeting, or a family gathering. Make sure when someone brings a topic of did you hear what happened last week? You will say yes, I heard it but I am thinking why did that happen? Ask the other person what does he/she thinks why it happened and how it happened? When you encourage the other person to think this way, you are growing and helping the other person grow. In that gathering, before you arrived, there was only one researcher, but now there are two researchers who are helping each other’s mind and brain grow. Just change the question you ask; it will not just make you a researcher, but it will change your life forever. Let me give you an example, let’s say someone tells you, did you hear John was hit by a car? You ask why it happened, and how it happened? Then you force others to think about what went wrong, and how it could be avoided in the future. If someone says my baby burnt his hand, you instead of just listening to the sad tale, you turn the question to how it happened and why it happened? In this way you just helped a mother protect her baby from another accident.
This is what a researcher is, and this is the researchers’ mindset. You just think about the reason and logic behind everything. The why and a how…. just change the question you ask in your daily life.
Another way of thinking, the researcher develops is of problem solving. This is the future based thinking. A good researcher is a good problem solver. When you develop the habit of why something happened and how it happened? You were focused on the past. But when you asked the mother to think why and a how, you changed the thought process to another level; the future based thinking. Now you are focusing on the solution and the mother is also focusing on the future.
What I want you to do is to think about future besides the why and a how, all the time. Ask the question all the time, how it can be solved? How it can be better? How it can be prevented? How it can be treated? This problem-solving thinking and focusing on the future has given the humanity all the discoveries and inventions. The inventors and discoverers always think in terms of future, it means they are looking for a solution of a problem.
The future based thinkers are as important as the past based thinkers. They solve the problems while the past based thinkers tell us if the problem exists or not. You should develop the past and the future based thinking.
TO SUM IT ALL
There are two kinds of mindsets that different researchers have. The past based thinkers; who always ask why it happened? And how it happened? They tell us that there is a problem. While the future based thinkers are the ones who tell us the solution of a problem. A great researcher is the one who develops both mindsets. I encourage you to develop past based thinking and the future based thinking- it will not just make you an outstanding researcher, but it will help you in your personal and professional life as well.