Hot Air Balloons and Dissertations

June 5th is National Hot Air Balloon Day. Comparing a hot-air balloon to a dissertation, the jokes almost write themselves. But, it turns out that writing a dissertation is more like inventing the hot-air balloon then flying one!…

Just keep blowing in hot air and eventually it will rise above. I’m talking about flying a hot-air balloon…not writing your dissertation!

Up, up and away! Floating gently amongst the clouds and serenely absorbing the scenery… Wouldn’t you like to be flying in a hot-air balloon right now?

It sure beats the stress and frustration of working on your dissertation!

But, they’re-both-full-of-hot-air wisecracks notwithstanding, getting your dissertation done is more like inventing the hot-air balloon than riding in one.

And, if that seems awfully…difficult, creative, and, well,…time consuming, that’s because you’re doing it wrong!

You see, the Montgolfier brothers publicly demonstrated their montgolfière (unmanned hot air balloon) in 1783. People were carried in them shortly thereafter.

But, did they really invent the hot air balloon? Nope, not really. People had been making hot air balloons, primarily in the form of paper lanterns, for thousands of years.

The concept was out there in the world, already. The physics was understood.

The modern manned hot-air balloon was the result of a few incrementalimprovements to an idea that had been around for centuries.

And, that’s how writing your dissertation is like inventing the hot-air balloon. Your dissertation doesn’t have to be the first of it’s kind! It doesn’t have to exploit some new, heretofore unknown science in order to work.

All you have to do is make an incremental change, a slight improvement. A tiny, evolutionary contribution to your field.

You’re joining a vast system that produces incremental improvements by adding simple findings in your field, slowly, over time. Just do your small part (although it might feel big!) and don’t worry about finding glory, creating your legacy, or pursuing a passion project.

Make a minor contribution. Write it up clearly and concisely. You never know when or how someone will put your work to good use later. Maybe they won’t. But, at the end of the day, you’ll have earned your doctorate, and that’s the goal!

If you’re struggling to get your dissertation to take flight, click here to schedule a quick, 15-minute chat with me to see if you’re a good candidate for our Fast Track Your Dissertation Coaching Program. If you are, then I’ll invite you to join the fastest group of dissertation students out there and help you to reach graduation a good year or two faster than you would on your own.

If you need extra support and guidance to make it to graduation, I may be able to help. If you'd like to find out whether you qualify for the support we offer throughout the dissertation process, then...

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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