Welcome to Episode Three! At the end of yesterday’s episode, I mentioned that preventing a jump the shark moment takes a certain amount of awareness. It requires you to really think about your situation and be honest with yourself about what you see happening. Once you start doing that, you may find yourself wondering if the jump the shark moment has already happened. To help you in determining the answer to this question, here are:
The Top Five Sign’s You’ve Jumped the Shark.
- Your primary responsibility has now become building office furniture. – One of Mark’s first jobs out of college involved working for a think tank. At one point, Mark was assigned to research and write a paper in support of an issue that the think tank was already in favor of. However, after doing the research, Mark felt that the information and facts he found did not actually support the think tank’s stance on the issue. His boss was not happy about this at all. So his boss assigned Mark’s research and writing projects to other people and started asking Mark to build office furniture instead. At that moment, Mark knew that the ship had sailed on this job and it was definitely time to move on. Anytime you are demoted within an organization it’s pretty safe to assume that you’ve jumped the shark and it’s time to move on.
- When disagreements no longer happen behind closed doors. – A few years ago, Mark and I were spending the evening with another married couple. We had known this couple for a while but had recently been sensing a little tension between them. We didn’t think too much of it, assuming that it was just a phase. However, we knew we underestimated the problems in their relationship after that evening because they spent the entire night arguing with each other. They weren’t screaming at each other or throwing things. But they spent the entire evening pointing out the other’s flaws, taking every opportunity to disagree with each other, and were completely unable to speak to each other without an underlying tone of frustration and disgust. They split up under a year later. Most people prefer to argue in private rather than air their dirty laundry in front of the world. The same is true in a work situation, where most managers would prefer to discipline their employees behind closed office doors rather than during the weekly morning meeting. So when your boss starts yelling at you every week in front of the entire office, or when you and your significant other can’t stop fighting with each other long enough to spend a fun and peaceful evening out with family or friends, you should consider that a sign that the shark has been jumped.
- You must constantly compensate to survive. – Nothing is 100% pleasant, and it’s not abnormal for you or I to compensate a little to deal with things that are difficult. If I’m having a particularly difficult day, I might distract myself by stopping at Starbucks to splurge on my favorite calorie rich coffee. We all find ways to compensate some of the time. The danger sign is when you are compensating all day, every day. If you find yourself going in to work late, making multiple Starbucks runs throughout the day, taking extra long lunches, and finding every excuse possible to call in sick, it’s probably safe to assume that you’ve jumped the shark at your job. Other danger signs include significant increases in potentially unhealthy habits, such as smoking more, drinking more, eating more, shopping more…you get the idea. We all have our methods of coping, and using them occasionally is one thing. But excessive coping in any fashion is a sign that you are compensating for something. If whatever situation you are in is so bad that you must do some serious compensating, it could be a sign that you’ve jumped the shark and it’s time to move on.
- Respect is a thing of the past. – Mutual respect is an important part of any relationship, whether work or personal. Without respect, things can go down hill very quickly. An acquaintance of mine told me the story of how he started out at a company having a great deal of respect for the management and they showed him a tremendous amount of respect as well. However, as time went by, it became clear to this person that his managers no longer respected his opinions or his work. He was clearly upset and hurt by this turn of events, and he began to lose respect for his managers as well. It only got worse from there. You won’t always like your boss, the PTA president, or your neighbors. But a certain amount of respect is essential in making a relationship work. Once the respect is gone, so is the relationship.
- You feel like you are free falling. – I remember going to Cedar Point as a kid and riding The Demon Drop. The ride took you up 60 feet then dropped you at a speed so fast that you were back at the bottom in under 3 seconds. I can still remember the way my stomach felt during those 3 seconds…like it had just jumped from my belly and into my chest. It’s that same feeling you get on a big roller coaster or when an elevator moves up or down too quickly. It’s also the same feeling you get after you jump the shark. You start to feel anxious about going to work and your stomach is constantly tied up in knots. You can sense that things aren’t going well…that your situation is getting worse instead of better. You know at some point you will hit the bottom, but you can’t tell where the bottom is or how fast you hit it. If you are trying to determine whether or not you’ve jumped the shark, stop thinking and start paying attention to how you feel when you are in the situation. Do you spend eight hours a day at work with your shoulders tense and your head pounding? Do you come home at night completely wiped out from an entire day spent waiting for the next thing to go wrong? If so, you’ve probably jumped the shark and now it’s only a matter of time until you hit the bottom.
There you have it…five signs that you’ve jumped the shark. But what do you do once you figure out that you’ve jumped the shark? I’m so happy you asked!
To Be Continued…