Life Lessons from Survivor


Feb 22 2015

Gold Tape

Life Lessons from Survivor

Survivor is a [not] guilty pleasure of mine, and besides being excellent entertainment, this show has also taught me stuff about LIFE. I find joy in learning from everything around me, even in the most unexpected places. With Survivor 30 less than a week away – and it looks like a good season, guys – I urge you to tune in so I have more people to tweet about it with.

Life lessons I’ve learnt from Survivor:

Think, what’s in it for them?

Whining and begging doesn’t get one far, usually. If you want someone to work with you, or do something for you, point out what’s in it for them.

Sleep and food are important.

Even when I boil a modest bowl of rice to commemorate Survivor night, it follows two square meals and probably some Graze snacks*, and a warm comfy bed to sleep on. So when I yell at the players through the screen that they’re being so dumb it isn’t really fair. I get pretty cranky when I’m sleepy and hungry. Multiply that by 39 days and that’s a big deal.

*free snacks with code: XANDRA2NE)

Never outshine the master.

This first of the 49 Laws of Survivor Power applies not just to Survivor, but to life: whether you’re at work, school, on a team, in a group – make note of “the master”, or the person in charge, and let them do their thing. Let them feel like they’re calling the shots, even though secretly you are. If you’re trying to steal the show, it looks pretty threatening.

Life Lessons from Survivor

Indulging on unhealthy food has consequences.

Survivor should inspire me to eat less, but man those rewards look tempting. When Jeff presents pizza and cake, I want pizza and cake. But after being used to a prolonged, clean diet, such foods are nasty on the system. Is it really worth the pain and discomfort?

You can’t hide who you are.

So many players claim that they’ll be “the villain” or that they’ll put on this secret personality and pretend to be a construction worker. Guess what. When you’re malnourished (see above), your true personality comes out, and there’s not sense wasting energy trying to hide it. Own your strengths, admit to your weaknesses, and you’re much better off. Plus, people can tell when you’re faking it and it’s shady.


Go with the flow.

Survivor tribes mates are looking for any excuse to vote someone out, so do yourself a favour and don’t stand out in a bad way. If everyone else is working, chip in. If everyone else is lounging, don’t heckle them about working harder. They will take it personally, and you’ll lose out. Same goes for any kind of group effort: don’t alienate yourself for silly things.

Be really grateful for things like shelter and toothpaste.

Pillows! Toothpaste! A shower! With soap! These are real, moan-worthy Survivor rewards that people drool over playing for.

People notice when they’re being ignored.

Just like you shouldn’t alienate yourself, don’t alienate others in your group. At tribal council, the accusation “you never talk to me” is so easy for people to throw out there, and it would have been so easy to prevent with just a few kind conversations. I mean, you’re out there on the island all day with little better to do. Check in with everyone.

Life Lessons from Survivor

Community is HUGE.

Good morale and trust in a group can take your alliance far, sometimes even when you don’t have the numbers. Beyond the show itself, I attribute much of my enthusiasm for the franchise to the Survivor and RHAP community. Way more fun than watching alone.

Everything is better with Jeff Probst commentating.

Call household chores “challenges”, narrate them in your best Jeff Probst voice, and your day just got that much more fun. I used to dread emptying the dehumidifiers from the basement. “XANDRA WITH HER SECOND BUCKET. GOTTA PICK IT UP.” Not anymore.

It’s just a game…but it’s real.

Can you tell that I’m obsessed with how fiction and reality relate? Add reality tv into the mix and things get pretty interesting. Survivor teaches me real lessons that I have applied in real life, and even though it’s not a real shipwreck – that’s just the premise – the game deals with real people, real relationships, and how they interact under the pretense of a “game”. The same strategies, moulded to different real-life situations, actually work (that goes for bad strategy too). Think about it.

What have you learned from Survivor?


P.S. Yes, I also wrote about Life Lessons from America’s Next Top Model.

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