Sunday, October 02, 2005

SG – When the Going Gets Tough…

The most recent Survivor Guatemala episode shone a spotlight on a handful of concepts voted amongst family and friends as “most likely to prompt a 45-minute discussion with Kimm.” Some might justifiably argue that the discussion is just as likely to turn into a monologue but really, that only occurs if a person shows significant interest in the topic and then doesn’t hold up their end of the conversation.

Second runner up in this category – no one seems to have understood or cared what Brianna found important (“…she never once looked me in the eye”) nor did she herself seem to understand the premium the rest of her team placed on athleticism which of course was largely responsible for her subsequent dismissal from the game.

Now that she’s gone, we’ll never know for sure if a better understanding in that regard might have improved team performance. My argument is that it certainly couldn’t have hurt anyway, and may have actually held the key to winning. If past history is any indicator, when the Survivors later get to the point of voting people off the team and onto the jury determining who will ultimately win the million dollar purse, such an oversight can become critical. Every bit as critical as thinking you’re rid of a nuisance co-worker only to have that person turn out to be your new boss at a different company and all they remember about you is how badly you treated them.

First runner up was the Yaxha single-minded emphasis on athletic ability – an understandable priority given the fact that they’ve been beat in that department a number of times now. Survivor is no more about just sheer physical strength than is the rest of life though. It counts for a lot, just like high productivity numbers count for a lot but it’s not the whole story. Qualities such as ingenuity, understanding people, practical application of skills, and sense of history also matter.

My contention is that well-rounded individuals and well-balanced teams will always be more adaptable and therefore more successful in the long run than those who emphasize a single talent to the exclusion of all others. My guess is that with Jeff’s proclamation to beware of focusing just on athleticism, we’ll see more of that principle playing itself out during the rest of the season.

That said, I probably would have voted out Brianna myself even though she is one of two Washingtonians from towns not far from my own. I’m thinking that where Gary and Stephenie focused on her lack of athletic ability, I would suggest that what they really noticed was a lack of toughness that’s needed to continue to give it your all, even when you don’t feel up to that task – a refusal to give up; take Bobby Jon's determination to keep going, even when he really couldn't even move his legs, as an example of the kind of gumption I'm talking about. He may have been overdoing it but at least he wasn't wimping out (other's opinions about that aside, of course).

While such toughness (or lack of it) is particularly noticeable in physical challenges, I’ve seen it play an important role in emotional and other non-physical challenges as well. That’s perhaps the single most important quality in my book and I found more missing in Brianna than anyone else on that team. It’s just as important in figuring out puzzles and dealing with difficult people as it is in trying to play the Mayan equivalent of football so I think of it as a necessary element in almost every situation.

This is, of course, a bias of mine that others may not share. What qualities do you believe are pre-requisites for success? Send them to and we’ll compile a list.

What do you do to broaden your experiences and your skills so that you’re less likely to be seen as a “one-trick pony”?