5 Lessons Leaders can Learn from the ABC Show Wipeout

My wife and I used to be huge fans of the ABC hit TV show Wipeout. Just in case you have not seen it or need a reminder here is a clip of the show:

I have found several relevant leadership lessons from this show which we should know and apply into our leadership. Here are 5 of them:

1. Leaders have perseverance- The contestants of the show face many challenging obstacles to try and qualify for the next stage and potentially win. Often it happens with steady progress. Though they might fall, they get back up and keep moving forward. David Sarnoff said, “The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success.” Leaders should have a personal and team vision and be moving toward it through attainable goals. This is done by taking small daily steps forward no matter what’s happening around you, never give up.

2. Leaders are prepared- The people who contend on Wipeout have to be prepared, both mentally and physically. The strong players are the ones who have prepared themselves well. Leaders know the importance of being prepared and ready for the challenges and demands of leadership. They know it takes every ounce of strength to lead others successfully, so they prepare their body (by being healthy) and mind (through personal growth and thinking) for the daily challenges leadership brings.

3. Leaders are enthusiastic- The players are energetic, excited, and enthusiastic about being on the show. This is often show by the wacky clothing they wear and their spirited attitudes. Leaders should be enthusiastic toward the people around them and what they are leading. This means they have fun, celebrate wins, and never are too serious. When a leader is excited and happy about life it will rub off onto the people they lead. This in turn will positivity impact the customers or clients they serve.

4. Leaders are competitive- The players on Wipeout are competitive with each other. They want to win so they try and throw other players off their game by having competitive discussions with each other. A leader’s desire should be to see personal and team results. They should want to win in life, leadership, and business. Being competitive is more about pushing ourselves toward better performance and results than it is about competing with someone else. Actor Tyra Banks said, “I’m competitive with myself. I always try to push past my own borders.”

5. Leaders have endurance- It takes endurance to move forward and win the competition. The people who make it through the final obstacle course have endured tremendous challenges. Leaders know the importance of enduring through the different seasons of life, both the good and difficult times. The best leaders nourish themselves so they can keep moving forward in spite of what happens to them or around them.

Question: Either from watching the show or your personal experience what are some other essential leadership characteristics or qualities?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I really like point 1. Leadership is not a one time event. It happens overtime through ups and downs. Leaders have to keep moving. Leaders overcome failure. Leaders push on. They persevere.

    My kids like that show.

    • Perseverance is so important when it comes to leadership and achieving great things. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Micky Diaz

    Great post Dan! This has my name written all over it too!…:-). Points 2 &3 can be challenging sometimes. Over time, every single other point continues to mature to this very day.

    • Thank you Micky:) I think a lot of leaders struggle with those two area. Let’s keep at it though:) Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • I’ve never seen the show… Man that looks painful! I like the analogy. In the end it is that attitude that encompasses all of those traits that are necessary to lead a gratified life. For true peace I’d throw in honor to the mix. With that along with the other traits it will be a life worthy of sharing the story I think.

    • Great point about attitude! Its an important factor. “Honor” is a great addition! Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  • DS

    It looks as though these folks took a beating. Leaders are targets – of the good and the bad. Regardless of the shots they take – reasonable, and unreasonable – they need to have resolve to stand, take the hits, and pursue excellence.

    • They sure do:) It does only happen when a leader “resolves” or determines to keep going no matter what. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • Cool thoughts! I’ve never watched the show in that way. I get too distracted laughing! Leaders have a vision. They SEE what the future can be and lead us to believe it and achieve it with them.

    • Hello Lauren,

      Thank you. It’s a funny show to watch. Great addition, vision is essential when it comes to leading people forward. Thank you reading and taking the time to comment. I look forward to connecting more with you.

  • Contrary to the show: good leaders ask for help when needed. They will look outside themselves for opinions and advice.

    • Great additional point Bill. Thank you for sharing it:)

  • My husband loves the show, we watch it together and laugh ourselves silly. While the game looks ‘safe’, (padding and all) i always think that the hits they take are pretty hard. i keep expecting someone to break something or get knocked unconscious. Maybe it’s not as tough as it looks, leadership. Or maybe it is, depending on where you are standing and your ability to risk and take ‘padded’ hits!. Great article!

    • I know some of those wipeouts look painful. I’m sure they have to sign a waver before competing. Great thoughts to think about:) Thank you for sharing.

  • Hi Dan

    I don’t care for the show, it seems silly and painful. But you have mentioned some great qualities for success. Perseverance is something we definitely need to succeed, it is easier to give up when the results are not what you had hoped for.


    • Hello Mary,

      It’s not for everyone:) Perseverance has a lot to do with being successful or not. Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • I don’t watch much TV and can’t say I ever saw the show, but it sounds fun and I like the analogy of the show to leadership. I’ll go with empathy again, for another leadership quality not on the list.

    • It’s a good show but because we are so busy don’t watch it any more (or on rare occasions). Great addition Dan, empathy is important. Thank you for adding to the list:)

  • Wipeout was one of my favorites! It got a little old if you watched it much, but it was a guilty pleasure. You can also almost see lessons in building a platform from the show – in how the contestants tried to be as wacky as possible to get on the show (and some time on TV), trying new things, etc.

    • It’s a good one:) Great point about also learning platform lessons from it. Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • Excellent analogy and leadership points. I agree with Lauren, a leader must have a clear vision to guide his team.

    • Thanks Bernard. Yes, vision is essential! Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

  • Leaders feel the fear and do it anyway. Its one of the main differences between different groups of people. Leaders Lead, and others wish they could lead but whimper out based on fear.

    • Great point!!! Moving through our fear is so essential. Thank you for adding that point.

  • Stevebloom2

    This is a fun post. I’ve only seen the show in bits and pieces here and there so I know what it’s about. There was one time I just sat down and watched it all the way through though. Your first point popped up in that episode. Someone was in the last obstacle course and was setting a pace to win, but just froze up on a spinning platform. She couldn’t move and couldn’t decide what to do next. Eventually she just called out to stop the course and gave up. She was on her way to winning! If she had just persevered and taken action, she could have beaten the time frame.

    It’s true. If you want to be successful, you have to persevere.

    • Hello Steve,

      Great example we should remember when it comes to our leadership. We have to keep going and moving forward no matter what. Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • This was great, Dan! I loved your take on the Wipeout, it truly is a show of leadership. If there’s anything I’d add, it’s to smile at any situation, I can have nothing but respect for those who fall down, but get up smiling!

    • Great addition, a simple smile can bring us and others joy. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • One thing I’ve noticed is that the successful competitors are often quite strategic in how they approach challenges. They think of new and better ways to complete the courses before them.

    • Great point Loren. That’s important to remember and adapt into our leadership. Thank you for sharing.