Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Be Scientifically Limitless

Don't you misunderstand the title of this post!

I don't mean to say there should be no limits on how you, the reader of this post, do science. There are the very clear boundaries of the scientific method and of professional conduct that you must respect.

What I mean to say is: Do not limit yourself in what you can achieveDo not let yourself be limited by circumstances or your environment.

More often than I would like, I encounter the following self-limiting behavior:

A person is confronted with a problem (perhaps a scientific problem, or a coding problem, or something else). They realize that it is hard, perhaps harder than what they have done before. They also have no experience in solving such a problem. Perhaps they have seen others fail trying to solve similar problems. Some give up at this point.

Others might try for a bit, fail to make progress, get frustrated and quit trying. They often don't ask for help, for a variety of reasons, the two major ones being: (1) They might think they are just stupid/inexperienced and should learn to solve problems on their own. (2) They are afraid of what others might think about them if they ask for help and let "others solve their problems too frequently".

Always ask for help. Those that ask are the ones that do things and go places. If you don't ask for help, you limit what you can achieve.

Another thing I have seen too often: People tend to put people into comfortable little virtual mind boxes based on what they think about them and, perhaps, what their history has been. This then limits what the person in the box thinks they can and should do now and in the future. They remain limited in what they achieve to the boundaries of the box they have been placed in. You need to realize that these boundary conditions are made up. They are made up by people no smarter than you (despite of what you may think!). You can and should and must break through them. Liberate your thoughts and dreams!

Here are two very inspirational YouTube videos that are excerpts from a longer 1994 interview with Steve Jobs. You can think about this man what you want. The advice he gives is brilliant and invaluable.

On asking for help:

On not limiting yourself: