Too Many Shiny Things

November 22nd, 2019

It is very easy to fall under the grip of the “Shiny Object Syndrome” in your business. This is when you have a tendency to chase the next new business idea, try out yet another fancy tool, or set another goal, rather than to stay focused on what you are required to do. This is the business equivalent of a child dropping their current toys to chase a new shiny object to play with.

I often see this when business founders are at their most busy or overwhelmed. The overwhelm has either come from starting too many new things or implementing too many new tools at one time instead of focussing on the right stuff. Sometimes this can be a form of procrastination, as chasing the new can be perceived as easier than getting stuck into what must be done. Shiny objects can often be incorrectly perceived as a shortcut.

You can assess if you are defaulting to this approach when you catch yourself having lost focus or have lots of unfinished projects which lead to you not progressing what is important in your business.

The introduction of new tools is vital when you are trying to operationalise and make your practices more consistent and effective. But, if you are just trying new software, for example, on a whim and not linked to your immediate goals, beware.

Shiny objects often lurk in other peoples pockets too. It can be very tempting to pick up new contracts that aren’t the best of fits for your business because they have something shiny attached to them. I see lots of business agree to low contract values or pro bono work because someone dangled the diamond of potential future work. These are the shiny objects to be avoided unless they are very strategic and carefully considered.

Lots of businesses also fall into the trap of being attracted to shiny partnerships which without adequate upfront planning prove to be a lump of charcoal. Not everything is the diamond they appear to be from the offset.

There is however one circumstance when shiny is a good thing. New tools and resources can be a huge asset at the right time. While it is important to avoid being pulled unnecessarily in their direction, it is good to create a habit of spotting shiny things but banking them for another day. Irish Writer, John Connolly describes this as a positive in the context of his work too.

“Writers are magpies by nature, always collecting shiny things, storing them away and looking for connections of things.”John Connolly

Do not be distracted by shiny things to the detriment of achieving your goals.

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