I was at the gym the other day and on TV was the season finale of Australian Survivor 2017. Admittedly, I’ve never watched an entire season but I’ve seen enough snippets and promos over the years to know how it works – A mixture of eye-catching, quirky and attention-seeking individuals “marooned” at some exotic island location; taking on a range of both real and whacky challenges; initially working together in competing tribes; then competing individually against each other until only a Sole Survivor remains. On this occasion, the winner pocketed a cool $500,000. The U.S. version has a grand prize of $1,000,000 and has been running for 35 years – it is a very successful and popular show.
Anyway, one of the many things that has long disturbed me about these kinds of Reality TV programs (and Survivor certainly isn’t the only one) is not so much what it reveals about our society…But what it feeds.
After a dramatic final counting of votes, the eventual winner emotionally announced how proud he was of the way he played the game and that he also hoped his family were proud and that indeed, all of Australia was proud.
Then, we were shown a series of flashback highlights, including the winner earlier in the season proclaiming: “If I have to steal, cheat and lie, I will do whatever it takes to win…”
And that’s what he did. That’s what it always takes to win Survivor and many other “Reality” competitions. Every season it’s the same – the person who is best at lying, deceiving, scheming, stabbing people in the back, appearing to be trustworthy…but not; They win. They are celebrated. They get the big prize. They become famous.
In this reality, some of the lowest human behaviours are the very qualities that bring success…and they are not only accepted, but rewarded – Big time.
What our society feeds…will grow. What we incentify…will be reinforced.
Our prime-time entertainment continues to promote destructive, ego-centric behaviour as the only way to survive and ultimately win the “game of life” because it is created and distributed by organisations that put profit ahead of society’s well-being. While elements of a show like Survivor at times do tap into some more evolved perspectives (eg. cooperation, trust, teamwork), the source level is frighteningly low and those elements are usually undermined and ultimately lost.
I will state it right up front – “We are giving the customers what they want” is no defence. If we want a better society, we need people in power to lead, not follow. And…we need CONSCIOUS people in power. That means in the media, in politics…and particularly in business.
At Barefoot Leadership, our singular focus is helping raise the level of consciousness of organisations and society in general. We have recently developed the ORCA Matrix ™ – a new tool that allows business leaders to accurately assess where they sit on the evolutionary consciousness scale and understand what that means for their company, now and in the future.
It is a powerful and enlightening insight that potentially opens the door to a journey of profound transformative change. And as a society, we desperately need that.