Survivor's 40th season, Survivor: Winners at War, kicks off this week (CBS, Feb. 12, 8 p.m. ET), featuring the top champions of the past 20 years fighting for a $2 million prize. Besides being highly entertaining and teaching us survival skills for the wild, Survivor also offers lessons for use in everyday life. Here's a guide based on a close watch of all 39 seasons.
1. Mind your own business
Whether with friends, family or work colleagues, it's best to keep your criticism to yourself or risk your own status quo. Take a “Don't be like this” cue from conflict starter Jerri Manthey from Season 2, Survivor: The Australian Outback, who criticized chef contestant Keith Famie on his less-than-stellar rice-cooking skills. The day after Manthey was voted out, players whistled “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead.” Heed Manthey's lesson, and your social life will survive.
2. Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others
On an airplane, this will save your life; the same holds true on the ground. Follow the lead of Season 31 winner Jeremy Collins, (Survivor: Cambodia) who gave away an immunity idol only when he had one to spare, saving both his closest ally and himself. Otherwise, you risk imploding like Erik Reichenbach (Survivor: Micronesia, Season 16), who foolishly gave away his one immunity idol and was promptly voted out.
3. Walk your own path
You can only be a follower for so long before the people around you realize you haven't done a thing to get to where you are, drawing their ire. That's what happened to Natalie Tenerelli (Survivor: Redemption Island, Season 22), who didn't get a single jury vote even though she was sitting up there with two of the most hated contestants ever. Then there's four-time Survivor player Cirie Fields, who was able to overcome her physical and outdoors-skills deficits with her impressive social game, analytical savvy and keen observational talents to make it to the final three in Season 16, Survivor: Micronesia.