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What a 24 year old Australian Survivor taught me about business

Kristie Bennett - Winner Australian Survivor 2016 Series (Photo - Channel 10)
Kristie Bennett – Winner Australian Survivor 2016 Series (Photo – Channel 10)

Recently I got hooked on the 2016 Series of Australian Survivor.  I didn’t get into the series until the last half, once the two tribes had been merged into one.  I learnt a lot from what I watched that I related to business and life.

A quick overview for those who have never seen this show.  A group of strangers are placed on an island away from civilisation (for this series it was Samoa, not a bad location at all).  Initially all of the contestants are divided into 2 teams and there are regular challenges for rewards and for immunity.  Whichever team doesn’t win the immunity award heads off to tribal council to vote off one of their members.  Kristie Bennett was a member of the tribe that won NO challenges and had to face being voted off the island at every tribal council.

Halfway through the series the tribes are combined into one tribe and the contestants are no longer playing as part of a team, they are playing for their own survival in the game.  Kristie Bennett would have been seen as the outsider, she had no real alliances with anyone else, she was considered a bit quirky and she never won any challenges.  No one saw her as a threat, she was not expected to win the big prize, which was $500000 you would have said that she was the underdog.  One of the big criticisms levelled at Kristie was that she made no big strategic moves, others did and often it backfired on them.

To discover how Kristie won Australian Survivor from such a seemingly outside position, we need to go back to when Kristie was 8 years old.  As a little girl from a broken marriage, she sat with her Father and watched the first series of Survivor.  She told her Father then that she would win Survivor when she grew up.  Fast forward 12 years and Kristie has watched every series of Survivor, she knows the games, she knows the skills required, most importantly she knows that there was only one Immunity Challenge that she had to win – the LAST one.  Winning the final immunity challenge meant that Kristie would make it to the final 3 where she would have the opportunity to vote the last person off.

The finale had Kristie and Lee (the physically strongest and one of the most popular people on the island) sitting in front a panel of 12 of the people who had been voted off the island.  The look on their faces when they saw Kristie as one of the final 2 was magic, no one expected her to get this far.  As both Kristie and Lee stated their cases as to why they should be the winner, Kristie simply said that she played the game her way.  She knew what was required to win, she acquired the skills she needed and she played her own game.  She didn’t follow what others did.  Despite the fact that many of the jury thought she had double crossed them, they respected what she did and she won with almost an unanimous vote (only one person voted against her).

At 24 years old Kristie Bennett now has more money than she would ever have dreamed of, but for Kristie winning Australian Survivor was never about the money it was always about winning the game.  The 8 year old girl had achieved her dream but playing the game her way.

What does all of this have to do with business?  It is about playing the game your way.  I learnt this about 12 months ago after playing a money game with my mastermind group.  I discovered that I spend a lot of time learning from others (there is nothing wrong with this) and then when I tried to follow what others had done I didn’t have the same successes.  This would leave me feeling ‘less than’.  Why couldn’t I make the same successes as others?  The reason was because I wasn’t these other people, I was me.  While it is great to learn from others it is important to implement in a way that is congruent to you and your values.

Play the game your way!!


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