Do you watch reality TV? It’s OK to admit it – popular reality programming, such as Duck Dynasty and American Idol, draw well over 10 million viewers per episode. There’s nothing wrong with watching these types of shows, and they can actually be a good way to wind down after a hard day at work. Plus, if you think about it, reality TV actually imparts a few important life lessons.

reality tv

1. Risk-Taking Is Good
Have you ever seen those contestants on Wipeout, running through obstacle courses in the hopes of winning $50,000? Most of them get creamed and end up in the water, but they aren’t afraid to take the risk. And while you should never do anything foolish in your business or personal life, a certain amount of smart risk-taking is a good thing. Monica “Baby Face” Kaufmann did, and ended up the first female winner on Wipeout.

Instead of ignoring your idea for a small business, take it and run with it. If someone offers you a job you think you’ll love, even if it’s outside the realm of your expertise, go ahead and give it your best. Smart, well-planned risk-taking often pays off in the end.

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2. Presentation Is Everything
The reality TV show, Shark Tank, features fledgling entrepreneurs who present their business ideas to potential investors. Within a few minutes of each show’s start, it becomes crystal clear that presentation is everything – a life lesson everyone can benefit from.

Whether you’re interviewing for a job, giving a presentation, or just trying to get a date, make sure your presentation is stellar. Prepare it, study it, and practice it. Those who know their stuff and present with confidence are more likely to achieve their goals and dreams. Alan Kaufman put together one of the better Shark Tank presentations for his circular-shaped umbrella, and walked away with a cool $200,000.

losing

3. Losing Is a Part of Life
Reality TV shows emphasize an important non-TV reality: There are almost always more losers than winners. Look at SurvivorIron Chef America, and Project Runway – while one person walks away with an incredible grand prize, 10 to 20 other contestants go home with nothing but life experience.

And while losing is upsetting, the focus should be on how you respond to your loss. You won’t get every promotion or win every game, but you can still walk away with lessons and information that make you better in the long run. Rob Cesternino, a two-time loser on Survivor, went on to become  a journalist, film writer and producer, and a popular online radio show host.

criticism

4. Take Criticism to Heart, but not Personally
On shows like Hell’s Kitchen, the criticism from judges is often brutal. Dominic DiFrancesco took a pretty good beating in one episode. But the most important takeaway is not to take criticism too personally. If your partner says something negative about your weight, it’s usually not because they want to hurt you – they probably just want to see you in good physical health. If you receive a scathing review at work, don’t take it personally – identify what you need to do to perform at a higher level.

passion

5. Passion Is Essential
To come out on top of any reality TV show, you have to have passion. This is evidenced on shows like The VoiceAmerica’s Got Talent, and Dancing with the Stars. Passion fuels the success stories, giving the winners a fire the other contestants can’t sustain. Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, recent winners on Dancing with the Stars, put on a passion-filled performance that blew the judges away.

Transfer this idea over to your professional life. If you’re not passionate about your career, it could explain why you’re not seeing success. Put your passion to work for you and find a new position you truly love. Not only will your life feel more rewarding, but you’ll be more likely to experience greater success.

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6. Flexibility Is a Key to Success
Have you ever watched a reality TV show where one of the competitors came out of nowhere to win? In all likelihood, they were able to swoop in for the win because they were flexible, adapting to situations as they changed. That was the case with Rob Mariano, who bested Francesca Hogi in a Survivor: Redemption Island episode after being far behind.

You’d do yourself a favor to adopt this trait as well. One of the only things you can be sure of is that life always changes – failing to adapt and change with it only frustrates and causes pain. Take the time to learn new skills, meet new people, and try new things. You never know which new experience will open you up to a life you only dreamed of.

Final Thoughts
The next time someone makes fun of you for watching America’s Next Top Model, let their comments roll of  your back. When you start looking at reality TV as a form of educational programming, applying its lessons to your life, you actually become a more accomplished, well-rounded individual. So go ahead and queue up your DVR – there are more of life’s lessons in store.

What lessons have you learned from watching reality TV?