Swimming in a Shark Tank Is Thought-provoking

Very, very little about “reality TV” is real.

Put a little lipstick on a pit bull and you’ll have something a lot more “real” and a good deal nicer than, for example, supposedly “real housewives” who are mostly collagen, silicone, high maintenance attitude, and genuinely devoid of anything genuine. But such mind-numbing voyeuristic freak show TV replicates itself at an astounding rate. “Real Housewives of Paducah”?

I suppose the “Shark Tank” series on ABC is a kind of reality TV, so I feel a little embarrassed when I’m swimming by flipping channels and that show occasionally snags me. I’ve gotten hooked a few times.

On “Shark Tank” a panel of “sharks,” successful (whatever that is) business folks who have achieved the kind of amazing success (whatever that is) that we all are supposed to desire, listen to pitches by fledgling entrepreneurs hoping to enlist some serious denarii to take their businesses or business ideas onward and upward to serious success (whatever that is).

The “sharks” are brutal in their examination of the entrepreneurs and their products/ideas. But if the sharks are convinced that the pitch has merit, they’ll offer bunches of money to the entrepreneurs (and often compete or join with each other in doing so) to get the business funded or seriously expand it. In return, they get an agreed upon share in the company and a percentage of its income.

I’ll admit, it’s interesting to watch. The business ideas are interesting, as are the entrepreneurs themselves and the evaluation of the “sharks.” If I were starting a business, I hope I’d be open to frank counsel from someone who has successfully done so.

But swimming with sharks has some inherent dangers, and it brings up some questions.

I know our society always equates success with an impressive spreadsheet and “bigger and more.” Is that all it takes to be a “success”? Is there ever a time to wisely say, “Enough”?

If you’ve got a really great idea and your product is already selling pretty well, do you really want to get in bed with a shark? (Mixed metaphor, I know.) Can you ever really trust a shark? Is working with one much fun even if it produces more dollars? How much is happiness worth to you? Even if the shark is pretty honest, have you ever known a big personality/big money shark who didn’t always honestly think that any success in a joint venture was because of him and any setbacks because of his much less savvy partner(s)? Have you ever met a shark who wasn’t at least a little, and probably a lot, dangerous?

I wonder how many of these sharks bought their “success” with a long line of wrecked relationships and broken families? Is that a price you’d be willing to pay? Who and what are you willing to sacrifice on the altar of your “success”?

Our society’s definition of success is one thing; we do well to think long and hard about God’s definition. That’s a reality check you won’t find on “reality” TV.


Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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