• Eric Bowie

7 Leadership and Relationship Lessons from Naked and Afraid

Other than sports and some occasional reruns of old situation comedies, I don't watch very much television. However, from time to time my wife and I enjoy watching the show Naked and Afraid, and we find it pretty interesting. You should check it out sometime. It's actually a fascinating show. 

In Naked and Afraid a man and a woman are placed in a remote area of the world with no clothes and only a couple of tools. They are usually given 21 days to survive in these remote situations, and have to rely on each other, their skills, their abilities, and their mental fortitude. If you can get past the naked part, you'll quickly notice that there are some very valuable life lessons that you can learn from in this simple television show. Yes, some of it is made up and there is some fictitious drama that is created solely for the purpose of entertaining you, like you find on every television show, but when you start to look through the fiction and wade through the awkwardness of the blotches on the screen to hide their private areas, then you find that there are some real eye-opening dynamics that determine whether or not people can actually survive for the entire 21 days.

You soon learn, from the show, that life and leadership are not about physical strength, how pretty or handsome you are, or your ability to start fires or kill live game. It's much deeper than that. The ability to survive 21 days in the conditions they are placed in is really a microcosm for surviving life and contains some serious relationship and leadership lessons.

Here are 7 leadership and relationship lessons that the show does a great job highlighting:

1. PEOPLE SKILLS MATTER - The first personable skill you have to master is the ability to manage yourself and your own thoughts. Secondly, you must be able to manage your relationship with other people. The ability to simply get along with others is a huge indication of how you will handle your relationship with your partner out there in the wild. On the show, your ability to get along with people usually determines whether or not you make it. Your people skills is a very clear indication of whether or not you will be successful in life and on the show. 

2. ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING - The most important part of survival is the way you think! When people are defeated and have a poor internal outlook in their own mind, they usually don't make it the full 21 days.  You must keep a positive attitude. A good leader has the ability to keep a good attitude during the bad times and when things are not going the way they thought they would. Problems on Naked and Afraid come in the way of pain, bad weather, hunger, thirst, illness, thorns in their feet, mosquitoes, and every other thing you can imagine. But  the people that make it are always the people that fight through adversity with a "silver lining in every cloud" type of attitude. A good attitude encourages, empowers, inspires, keeps you sane and filled with a sense of hope. Attitudes are contagious and they seep over into the psyche of everyone you come in contact with!

3. LEARN TO WORK WITH PEOPLE YOU DON'T LIKE - If you allow your dislike of people to get in your way and stop you, then prepare to fail. This is an awesome lesson that is a huge determining factor in whether or not the people on Naked and Afraid make it, and its what will determine your ability to complete any mission you try to accomplish. You will always run into people you do not agree with, do not like, and do not like being around. Get over it! If you want to accomplish anything in life, your first biggest hurdle will be YOU, and your second biggest hurdle will be people you don't like. When you start to achieve and do well, you will have naysayers and people that don't like you. Often times you will have to work with or around these people. This is why some people accomplish things and other people stand around the water cooler talking bad about the manager! Children whine and complain about people, while adults figure out ways to work with people despite their differences. And if you give up or quit every time you come across a person you don't like, or who doesn't like you, failure is imminent.

4. SUPPORT OTHER PEOPLE - Selfish people don't make it on Naked and Afraid. The moment a person is focused solely on themselves, is the moment you know they won't last. Just like in real life, selfish people finish last. You've got to think beyond you, have compassion, support your teammates, and help others meet their needs. When you see a person on the show who is genuinely concerned about the needs of their partner, you know that person, not only has a great chance to make it, but you also know that person has gained the respect of their partner and is elevated by others around them. In other words, the more you lift others, the more others will lift you! When you hold people up, they inevitably place you in high esteem. Building up others instead of yourself is also known as God's law of humility and it works!

5. DO YOUR SHARE - Don't be lazy. Laziness is one of the biggest problems you find on the show. People that don't want to work, yet want to get rewards off the work and sweat of other people, face an uphill battle. In leadership and relationships, shortcuts don't work. On the show it's fascinating to watch when people don't pull their own weight, because they ultimately develop either a sense of guilt and fix it, or they end up going home before the 21 days is up. Typically, this is the source of a lot of arguments and disagreements on the show between the man and the woman. When roles are not quickly established and delineated, and one person feels like they are doing the bulk of the work, things tend to get ugly very quickly. If you want to be a poor leader or ruin a relationship, be lazy. The key here is to be a leader, you must do your part!

6. SUCCESS IS A TEAM SPORT - On the show, if your partner leaves and the other person has to go it alone, their chances of making it to the full 21 days dramatically decreases. It is amazing to watch some of the more experienced survivalist, because, although they are the most savvy and have the most skills, they are usually the ones that know how important it is to have a partner. In other words, the most experienced survivalists who are the most equipped to actually make it alone, are also the ones that realize how important it is to have someone else out there with them!  That's wisdom. It's the inexperienced people that underestimate the value of their partner and the need for others, in order to help them get through the 21 day challenge. Give people credit, respect them and whatever they bring to the table, and appreciate the value of people just for being who they are! Being a lone wolf is fine for a super hero, but that isn't a very effective strategy in the real world. You need people and people need you. You may be able to make it alone, but the journey is more rewarding when you've been able to work with someone as a team to achieve a goal. 7. YOU CAN LEAD FROM THE BACK - Some of the strongest leaders I've seen on the show are people with the fewest natural skills and have the weakest physical strength. When you look at the 6 other items above, you should realize that none of them have anything to do with the typical physical survival skills that we usually think about. If you are able to bring these 6 skills to the table, nine times out of ten, you will survive. In other words, your ability to survive or lead, is not based on your content knowledge, but is based more on your ability to work with people, keep a good attitude, support and work with people you don't like, do your part, and work as a team. Anyone can lead from the back, regardless of your experience! The show is a wonderful illustration of leadership and relationships. When you get a chance, check out the show.

It's pretty interesting!

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