By Rich Figel
It's a new year, and the new Career Changers TV episode premieres Sat., Jan. 4 at 8:30 PM on OC16 (which is now channel 12 or 1012 if you have high def). The common theme that runs through this show -- and all our success stories for the most part -- is a word that rarely gets mentioned, but is often the underlying reason why some achieve their goals and others slide back into old habits or just give up. That word is discipline. For many, it has a negative connotation. You think of being disciplined as a punishment. Or it conjures up images of military-like rigidity and conformity. Yet when one becomes disciplined in the study of arts, sports training, mastery of a craft, what that constant practice and repetition actually does is free your mind and body to be more creative when confronted with challenges because you don't need to think about doing the basic mechanics.
In our January show, we have feature segments on the Hawaii Youth Symphony, an interview with the co-author of "Top Dog - The Science of Winning and Losing," and a piece on Roberta Oaks, a self-taught fashion designer who has a boutique in Chinatown that is doing quite well. In all three stories, it's easy to see how discipline pays off for individuals in their chosen professions. What many parents may not realize is how getting their children involved with music education at an early age can lead to all kinds of side benefits that aren't necessarily related to a potential career in music. The kids we met, and watched in rehearsal and concert performances seemed focused, mature, well-mannered, but were obviously having fun too. Here's the link to the YouTube version (looks and sounds much better on TV though!).
In the "Top Dog" segment, Ashley Merryman shares some fascinating insights into research on competition -- for instance, why kids in rural areas score higher on standardized tests... the difference between how boys and girls learn to play as kids, which carries over into adult life... the way "home field" advantage actually can affect business negotiations and raise requests. What it boils down to largely is whether you perceive a competitive situation as a threat or a challenge. If you see it as a threat, your physiological response is different than when you take it as a challenge you can rise to.
I was thinking about that when I watched Johnny Manziel lead his Texas A&M football team in an incredible comeback win over Duke in the Tuesday night bowl game. It wasn't just what he did on the field though. The cameras showed him on the sideline getting in the face of not just the players on offense when they were down by 21 points in the first half -- he then got into the defense, yelling at them that the game was theirs to "take" after he led them on one touchdown drive. Then he stood on a bench and began exhorting the faithful fans, the vaunted A&M "12th Man." He told his team mates at halftime to forget about the score, and not even look at it. He didn't get negative on them. Heck, I'm no big Aggies fan, and to be honest, based on some off-the-field incidents involving Johnny Football as he's known in Texas, I thought he was kind of a punk. But during this game, I became a believer too -- and a fan of his. Can you teach someone to develop those kind of leadership skills and competitiveness? Not entirely -- some are just born with it. Yet Ashley contends research proves people can get better at dealing with nerves and perform better under pressure if they study the science of competition. (Click here for her story, which is actually Part 2 of the interview we shot at the American Psychological Association conference in Waikiki last year.)
As for our story on Roberta Oaks, she seems very much like a free spirit -- an artist at heart, who turned from photography to fashion on the Mainland before landing in Honolulu and starting her own fashion line of both women's wear and men's shirts (guys, check them out -- very smart, trim look so you need to be in decent shape to wear them). But it became obvious to me that she has a strong work ethic as well, and is very disciplined about how she uses social media and her personal network to promote her business. In fact, she tells me she was designing fashions for wholesale retailers on the Mainland before moving here, so she's had a taste of the big time as well. She also mentions her art work as an influence on her designs, and any artist will tell you it takes discipline to transform a concept to a finished piece no matter what the medium is. You can also see her segment on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now averages over 6,000 views per month.
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