You already know that I have big, big plans to star on the Big Brother reality TV show one day. In the meantime, I watch several reality competition shows–you know, as research. My interest is purely academic.
It doesn’t take watching too many episodes of a reality show to realize that every person comes into the show with their own “strategy,” some of which are downright laughable. But I’ve gleaned a thing or two from reality TV over the years and many of these strategies can be applied to your daily life. These are the important points.
First–if you’re going to be ruthless, you can’t be halfway ruthless. This is almost a direct quote from my favorite contestant on last year’s Big Brother and it’s something that I think I need to incorporate more into my professional life. Not that I need to be cutthroat, necessarily; just that if I say, “This is your deadline,” then I need to stick to it. You can’t be firm but also a pushover, and I think I fall on the pushover side too often.
The second strategy I’ve picked up from reality TV is the art of coasting in the middle of the pack. On Big Brother, they call it being a “floater” and it basically means that you don’t have any strong alliances and you don’t put a target on your back by winning a bunch of competitions. Personally, I have a hard time recognizing “doing nothing” as a true strategy because I’m a take-action kinda gal. But I’ve seen the same concept work out on other shows–take MasterChef. The people who consistently do well, but not great or awful, usually make it pretty far. That is not to say that you dial in a mediocre performance; just that you shouldn’t expend your energy on things that 1) don’t matter and, 2) won’t help you advance. For instance, could I make my office the neatest and most organized of everyone’s? Sure, but having a passably neat and organized office is still good and requires less of my effort, which can be focused elsewhere. I’m competitive, so not trying to “win” at every little thing is something I need to utilize more so that I can use my energy more effectively.
Finally, the best strategy that any reality TV player can use is to put your emotions aside. Too often, people get caught up in the moment and the drama, and wounded pride ensues. But the best players know that your enemy one day might be your best ally the next–and they make sure to keep their relationships with every contestant on solid ground. It’s probably the hardest way to play the game, but it’s the best way to make it to the top. And this is so true for business and personal relationships as well–the whole forgive-and-forget aspect. (Even if, like me, you tend not to forget!)
What lessons have you learned from reality TV? Tell us in the comments!
You can contact Krista, the author of this post, at firstname.lastname@example.org.