I’ve always been strongly influenced by colors. I still marvel at the beauty of a rainbow. In Nuuanu where I live and Manoa where I work, I see a rainbow almost every day. The full spectrum represents the importance of a balanced life, advantage of broad skills and an open attitude. The consequence is Rainbow Vision.
Surveying my life, I’ve found that my greatest accomplishments came as a necessary reaction to failures. Mistakes, bad fortune, whatever, are, in reality, a beneficial stimulus for success. There is something about embarrassment, physical ailment or hopelessness that forces you to try harder, think out of the box, maintain perseverance and strive for triumph. In a way, then, this book is for those who have something yet to prove. Some of you might have been a loser most of your life, or, perhaps, unlucky.
The example I like to use is that in the 8th grade, I remember taking a standardized test that showed I ranked in the bottom 10th percentile in verbal ability, meaning that more than 90% of my classmates were “smarter” than me in English skills. This was confirmed in my junior year of high school when I took the practice college board exam, did well in math, but, again, scored in the bottom percentiles of the verbal portion.
There were two crucial factors. First, I had Mildred Kosaki as my English/Social Studies teacher. Something she did as a teacher woke me up on what I wanted to be. Second, in the spring of 1957 I broke my wrist playing basketball. In those days, many, during the summer months, labored in the pineapple cannery. This I could not do, so I decided to extend what Mrs. Kosaki kept preaching, and memorized the vocabulary words in a red and blue college board preparation book. They say that you cannot improve your test scores much, but I am living proof that you can. My 200’s or so verbal score more nearly tripled into the 600’s when I took the real college board exam in my senior year. I recall, for a reason that still mystifies me—for I never before had the guts to run for any office of any kind, and never have again—I ran for Senior Class Vice-President, and faced three female opponents. I guess it was more the gender ratio advantage, but the cast I wore I think served as an identifiable macho symbol, and I won. My VPship made me chairman of the graduation exercises, and I somehow prevailed in having Mildred’s husband, Richard Kosaki, who was a fresh political science professor at the University of Hawaii, as our Commencement speaker. Normally you provide a really old important person this privilege. (Earlier this year, exactly to the day, a half century later, Dr. Kosaki sent me a copy of his commencement address, and that, also, of the student speakers.)
This second example sounds too much like bragging, but it has to do with underdog status, not giving up and compassion. The most noted public school in Hawaii is McKinley. But that is because it is one of the oldest. The nationally respected private school is Punahou (Barack Obama, Michelle Wie, Steve Case, etc.), which always provides a number of students each year to Stanford. I’m sure there must be some, but I honestly don't know another person from McKinley, before or after me, who went to Stanford as a freshman.
Anyway, for the rest of your life, you can do it the right way, or make everything worse. This best way, I’ve found, only depends on one simple solution: good attitude, with a sincere desire to help others and work with them for a better--you select...life, humanity, whatever.
Part of life, of course, is that we all have ups and downs. Some things will go wrong no matter how successful you are. On any given day, the worst baseball team can beat the best, Chaminade can embarrass Virginia in college basketball and your toilet bowl could overflow.
So, if you have an IQ (yes any kind of intelligence), started at a low socio-economic level, and have some physical, ethnic or cultural defect, this book is just for you. Should you be so lucky as to start with more, than you already have an advantage. It will merely be a matter of absorbing the essence of the message and lessons to succeed in your quest by thinking simply with good conscience.
Some might be intimidated by the arena in which I operated, for how many will grow up to be a full professor in engineering, plus a research director of a sustainable resource institute? There is something chosen to being entrusted to do good things for humanity. I received a wide variety of communications from those in the nuclear industry, academics from China, mining engineers from Australia, specialists from dot.com companies and those from the military-industrial complex, all wanting to work in solar energy. Yes, life is unfair, and, there are already too many who are just plain dissatisfied…but it could be worse. Remember, the most awful of conditions can serve as the basis for your legacy.