The Wisdom of 'Survivor'

Monday, May 31, 2010

The 20th season of 'Survivor' is the best ever. It's the most unpredictable reality show I've ever seen so far. I initially thought Jerri Manthey or Colby Donaldson would win the game. Who would have thought that Sandra Twine-Diaz would be crowned as the sole survivor for the second time?

There are a lot of lessons you can learn from the game of 'Survivor'. Some of my friends say that lesson is 'Trust no one.' Actually, I disagree. I believe the real lesson of survivor is to start trusting and aligning in order to advance your goals. This lesson can also be applied in the call center world or any workplace. Allow me to help you identify what type of Survivor you are:


She couldn't have done it without the help of cunning and ruthless players like Parvati and Russell. She had to trust these people and gain the their trust as well in order to create this unbreakable alliance which would later bring them to the top 3 spots. Numerous times she tried to align with the Heroes Rupert and Colby to take out Russell but the problem is they didn't trust her so much. She had to shift from being an antagonist to an ally in Russell's play. Her supposed 'weakness' was used by the stronger players in order to obtain votes but in the end, it was revealed that it was all a strategy.

Lessons from Sandra: There will come a time when you might not like who you are working with. I had several problems with some of my former superiors. Looking back, I wouldn't have gone against some of them. Instead, I would've worked with them because now I know that they would've helped me improve my career path. Never take your eyes off your goal. If that light at the end of the tunnel spells Promotion or Success then you need to play the political game and start acting like an unwanted guerrilla.


You know why I hate James? Because he knew his knee injury would be detrimental to the Heroes. Yet, he chose to swing the votes and convince his teammates to vote out someone who was perfectly capable of helping the team to win any future challenges. Aside from the monumental mistake by JT, James was one of the main reasons why the Heroes were wiped out one by one. He could have made the ultimate sacrifice of pulling away and wishing his team well. He knew what his weakness was and yet he ignored it because he was only thinking of himself.

Lessons from James: In the call center success game, you must focus on your strengths and how you can nourish them in order to succeed. I've met a lot of individuals who are just hungry for promotions. A former employee wanted to be a Trainer so badly but it was pretty obvious that she lacks the basic skills that defines a good trainer: presentation, communication, and facilitation skills. One ingredient missed and the broth turns bland. Her strength was actually with developing and motivating people. However, she ignored her weakness thinking she would be able to cope with the challenges. Unfortunately, she didn't. Know your strengths and weaknesses and draw your career path from there.


And then there's Colby. He is currently holding the title of winning the most individual challenges in Survivor. Unfortunately, he played very differently in the 20th season which is the third time he's played the game. The once superstar has not won any challenge this season and even lost to fragile looking Courtney Yates. I can see he was trying so hard but was greatly demotivated for some reason. You can tell that he just wanted to give up. During the reunion show he revealed that he thinks the reason why he underperformed this time is because the fun factor was missing. He said he used to enjoy the beach and go swimming and fishing with Lex and other castaways but this time people were just playing the game.

Lessons from Colby: I always try my best to not be this type of employee - someone who has clearly tried his best but just didn't get through. Someone who's very focused but slipped within the 15 minutes of a challenge. Someone who has what it takes to win but simply couldn't. The only lesson I could think of is to consistently look for a purpose in whatever you do. If your job is starting to suck, post a picture of a place you're planning to go to or that car you've been trying to save up for. Eyes on the prize. Whether the journey is fun or not, never lose sight of the ultimate goal.


Poor Russell. He wants to prove that he's the best player in Survivor because he has played twice and both times he lasted until the end - but he never won. He never would. Why? Because he discounted the jury as a huge factor for winning. He's lied too many times. His reputation is his ultimate downfall. He will never win the game of Survivor because he played dirty and he made sure everyone knows it.

Lessons from Russell: There could have been another possibility. The jury could have seen his lying and backstabbing as legitimate tactics to win the game. That could have happened if only he appeared to be sorry for all the things he's done to get ahead. Here's the thing (and this is especially true for all call center managers): we're working with people. People want to be treated fairly or at least have the feeling that they're being treated fairly. I'm not saying managers need to lie or be fake but people would always feel that a good person deserves more success than a bad one. That's the way it is. If you have to throw people under the bus, at least be subtle about it instead of being proud of what you've done to damage another person's career.

Hmm, Parvati should be part of this list but I can't think of anything I learned from the way she played this season.

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