Over the years our family has watched a few Reality TV Shows and I have been surprised with how much my kids have learnt from these. Now Jess has already teased me, saying this blog post is simply a justification for watching such stuff (though she watches it with me!) but there really have been lessons we’ve learnt. Of course the point isn’t to get you to watch these TV shows – each family will have their own idea of what qualifies as valuable for their family – but since these shows intend to reflect some sort of reality then you can find these lessons in real life as well – you just need to keep an eye out on what is happening around you.
Masterchef: Of course we were inspired to be in the kitchen. We tried new foods and were aware of how food looked on a plate. Even those generally reluctant to try new foods started to give things a try.
The Apprentice: (this show had lots of language, and I often previewed before my kids watched it – and we skipped whole episodes so by no means does this show come with a complete recommendation!) This show was about completing projects, thinking creatively and working as a team. We had lots of business type discussions after most episodes: project planning, managing your time, working with a team, finances
The Block: We get inspired with the way these teams create beautiful spaces for living, though it is unlikely we’ll do anything along the same lines.
But most of our lessons have been in the areas of leadership, relationships and character. It is as we watch people handle challenges – both of real life type (like relationships) and contrived situations (like the challenges that I’m sure the producers intentionally set-about in order to create conflict!)
Some of the lessons we’ve learnt and talked about:
• Leaders don’t have to do all the ‘big’ tasks – they need to use their team according to ability and experience. In fact the team often works better if the leader is pulling it all together instead of actually doing the big tasks
• It takes effort to maintain a relationship – you have to nurture your relationship if you are going to come through tough times.
• Be bold if you believe in your project (and you should believe in your project), but don’t be arrogant – most character traits have a counter-balance
• Take personal responsibility for your mistakes – don’t blame others, and certainly don’t blame the boss!
• Accept authority’s decisions, and if you must, raise your concerns respectfully
• What does a work ethic look like and how do people respond when you work hard – and how some people look busy but aren’t really (these are character issues of diligence, thoroughness, initiative, responsibility)
• No relationship is ever perfect, there will always be glitches, but the key is to know how to talk about your differences, and to apologise (and accept an apology) – conflict resolution skills are needed whether in personal relationships or professional.
In the book, Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris, talk of three pillars to success in a person’s life, or to a person doing hard things – Character, Competency, and Collaboration. When we assess a competitor’s strengths or weaknesses, it is very clear they do fall into these three categories.
Watching TV, reading a book, seeing a movie, even people watching down the street is simply observation – it is as we talk about it, process it, and weigh it against our own value system that the kids can start to see these things as life lessons that would benefit their own lives, and not just a drama.