The first time I saw the Bringin’ On the Heartbreak video from Def Leppard, my appreciation of music reached an entirely new level. Sure, I had my Flock of Seagulls and Clash posters hanging on my bedroom walls – I LOVED those guys (and still do). But, the music from Def Leppard had an altogether different affect on me – they were hard, melodic and hungry…very much like the ‘eye of the tiger’ drive that Apollo Creed told Rocky about in Rocky III.
I went cuckoo for cocoa puffs for these guys – I got posters, t-shirts, imported albums, picture books…the works. Then something happened…I’m not sure how, nor why, but Def Leppard’s edge got dull…I’m not going to say when, because plenty of people liked this particular album. It wasn’t even because they may have been ‘growing’ as artists. Before I even knew the term existed, I knew that Def Leppard had jumped the shark (at least, for me).
I bring this up because the last few years in communications have been quite exciting for me. I’ve been learning, growing, refining and putting it all into practice – as often as I can, every day. Social media has merely amped it up for me because it has brought a dynamic, thrilling and scary level to it – much like a rollercoaster ride at Six Flags. Like my first experience with Def Leppard, there’s a level of enthusiasm propelling it. And, quite, frankly, I don’t want to reach that ‘jump the shark’ place with it all.
So, I’ve come up with three things that could be the root of shark-jumping:
Exhaustion – there’s a point where we all reach a ‘burn out’ point in our careers. It’s a fact of life – long hours, demanding bosses, unrelenting clients, etc. We get to a point to where ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ begins to make sense and we compromise our standards. ‘If my boss/client/customer liked it last time, then they’ll be fine with this’ you tell yourself, as you allow yourself to look away as you turn in mediocre work. Give yourself some time away from work…be it an hour, a day or a week. You’ll come back with a different perspective, more energy and a renewed sense of purpose.
Greed – the easiest way to look at this would be to consider an actor or band that you used to follow over the last five years. What made you stop appreciating their talents…? More than likely, they are no less gifted…they just may have lost their way thinking ‘it’s ok to do this movie, since I really want to get that home in Malibu’ or ‘if we develop this kind of film, it would make it easier to sell overseas.’ Stay true to yourself and what makes you unique. The moment you let money cloud your judgment is the moment your brand is tainted – especially if you have people (like customers, shareholders or fans) following your moves in the industry. Don’t think these folks won’t notice – they will not only see it, they will make it a point to ensure that you know of their disapproval.
Accept Defeat – DON’T DO IT. You’ll miss out on the fact that a time of failure is, in fact, an opportunity. Failure forces you to be more creative. Failure teaches you what works and what doesn’t. Thomas Edison knew this reality very well, as it took him roughly 8000 trials to perfect the Edison battery. Afterwards he exclaimed, “At least we know 8000 things that don’t work.” You can always try something different, or even try the same thing at another time with a fresh idea or team. Failure happens to every one of us. Not using it to your advantage and shelling out a ho-hum program song or idea is jumping the shark.
How do you think ‘shark jumping’ can be avoided in social media and/or public relations? When was the first time you experienced a jump the shark moment growing up? What have you done this week to keep yourself from jumping the shark?