Research Notes from a Ten Year Old

Truth Byte #34

“Sometimes you just have to get shit done.” 

 

I have grown up in a digital world. 

Whatever I want to know I can find out with a click of a few keys.  I remember a time very different than this one. I remember in fifth grade I had to write a report on any animal I wanted.

I choose the blue whale. 

Something about the fact that it was the biggest mammal on earth and yet had no actual teeth just fascinated me.  So first, I went to my school library, and asked the librarian to help me.  She directed me to the card catalogue.  Maybe you remember those from your own primary school days. The dusty, musty smell of filing cards that had been touched by a hundred thousand grubby fingers.  Some were worn out and fading, while some had just been added, corners sharp and crisp.

After about half an hour of searching through the various topics related to the blue whale (mammals? oceans? sharks? killer whales? krill?), I finally found a reference to two books that contained information on whales.  So I went to the shelf where they were supposed to be.

One was missing. 

The other was a reference book on oceans.  So that meant instead of reading through it from the comfort of my home, I had to sit in the library and painstakingly comb through the hard-bound volume. I spent the next two hours reading through the table of contents and indexes, furiously (and slowly) writing notes with a ten-year perfectionist’s laser-focused determination, trying to find any and all information on the blue whale.  I came out of that research session, at ten years old, with five interesting (and not so interesting) facts for my report.  What a day.

The blue whale:

  • Is the biggest mammal on earth (already knew that)
  • Eats krill (already knew that)
  • Has a comb-like mouth to catch food instead of teeth (already knew that)
  • Carries it’s offspring in the womb for 10-12 months (new fact!)
  • Can reach over 30 metres long (new fact!)

When my 7 year-old son wants to find out an animal fact, he just asks Siri.

My Ph.D. dissertation research was equally daunting, with some materials online and others found in the hidden corners of reference libraries three towns over.  My experience of research has been gruelling throughout my academic career.  But because of this, I learned an important truth:

Sometimes we just have to get shit done.

Sometimes, you just have to sit there and stare at the boring facts and find a way to make it fascinating.  Sometimes you have to just fold the first shirt in that mountain of clean laundry you have been avoiding (and moving from your bed to the guest room bed and back to your bed) just to start that laundry-folding-machine part of your brain.  Sometimes you have to dust the tops of your picture frames.  Sometimes you have to fire that client.  Sometimes you have to write a blog post at 9:30 pm on a rainy Tuesday night because that what you promised yourself and the people who actually are following, and waiting excitedly for the next nugget.

Sometimes you just have to.

Us Millennials, we HATE have-tos.  We like choices.  We like flexibility.  We like being “in the zone”, being inspired, and being excited.  But let’s face it.  Sometimes, we are just not.  We are not, and yet we have to show up and do it anyway.  We have to pick up our kid from school when he is sick even though it means a meeting with a really critical contact has to be postponed until next quarter.  It means we have to just suck it up and giggle along with the other bridesmaids even though we have no interest in their idea of fun and the bride knew us from when we were kids, so we don’t even have that much in common anymore.  Sometimes we have to suffer through the I-told-you-so talk from our aging parents when our incredibly interesting Arts degree isn’t really making a dent in paying the mortgage. Sometimes we have to go with our significant other to yet another function where we know no one and feel under-dressed and out of place.  Sometimes we just have to get shit done. And we don’t like it.

So today, I propose a new way.

What about, on those days when we are just muscling through, we look for the opportunity?

What if the gruelling research project got re-framed as a character-building exercise?

What if the awkward social moments became a chance to practice forgiveness of others and acceptance of self?

What if that last minute blog/assignment/email became a chance to practice communicating with humour and irony in a way that will get the “totally get it dude” nod from the person who reads it?

Because if there is one things us Millennials are incredible at, it’s the re-frame.

So let’s re-frame this.

I have a Siri in my head.  Sometimes she is way off, and sometimes she scolds me along with the information she regurgitates, but sometimes I am glad I went through that knowledge acquisition process.  Because that means today, I can use words like “knowledge acquisition process”  Heehee.

What are you ready to re-frame?  And what are ready to just get done already?

Talk to you next week! (and join me for a workshop to get more of whatever that was….)

It’s your life, and only you can live it.

www.talktosaira.com