Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Five Life Lessons from Reality Television

h/t to QueenBean3 for photo
There were 12.8 million viewers watching THE VOICE this week. That is a large fan base for television.  Some tune in for the entertainment or the competition, and some because there is nothing else on T.V. during that time slot.  I watch because CeeLo Green's smile makes me happy.  Also because in my opinion some of reality television has educational value, even though some of it is not "real."

I think we can all learn a lot about life from watching THE VOICE:

You have to prioritize your passion to become excellent.

There are many stories of contestant sacrifices to be on the show—consider how necessary it is for us to focus our attention on one particular thing to advance to excellence.  Whether our passion is singing, writing, rowing a boat, or making a cabinet we will not improve our skills over time just by wishing and waiting for luck to find us.

There is always someone better and worse than you. The real competition is with yourself.

The improvement within each contestant is more salient than the differences between them.  Getting distracted or “psyched out” about other people’s achievement won’t build our confidence or abilities. Others have nothing to do with the change we can create by comparing ourselves to ourselves in pursuing goals.
 Finding the right mentor is important. Being ready to learn is essential.

Although one of the coaches has had consecutive “wins” in the overall competition, I still argue that it is the collaboration of student and teacher that makes the biggest difference.  Some of the contestants come to be discovered and aren’t open to feedback, and they don’t last long even with great beginning talent.  The ancient saying “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” seems relevant to this life lesson.

The amount of effort you put into your work matters, there is always a consequence.

K. Anders Ericsson is a research psychologist who studies excellence.  After many years of studying data from multiple sources about peak performers he has distilled the advice into a fairly simple insight that few people are willing to follow.  Peak performers are consistent and persistent in deliberate practice.  Deliberate practice is defined as identifying the right task and difficulty level, informative feedback, opportunities for repetition, and correction of errors. That is a lot of time in.   According to Gladwell in The Outliers, that is the “ten thousand hours” rule.

You have to be in it to win it and winning is relative.

By the time the show gets down to the finals, each remaining performer has found their “voice.” The coaches will ask them questions like “where is this soulfulness coming from?” and then we hear the story.  We hear about loss, struggle, and challenges.  In life when we integrate the hardships in our lives we become more authentic.  Think Velveteen Rabbit and It’s a Wonderful Life kind of maturity.  Whether the world notices or not, when we find our voice we have won.

Whether we are trying to lose ten pounds, master a scale on the piano, or improve our relationships, achieving our goals is a process.  THE VOICE condenses that process into a small viewing window where we can watch others grow, and become better ourselves, if we pay attention. 

What lessons have you learned from reality television?

1 comment:

  1. Lisa, these are valuable and insightful lessons. As one who has never been a fan of reality television, I may have to alter my attitude and give it another go.