At some point or another, all entrepreneurs fall prey to what is known as bright shiny object syndrome.
Recognize that phrase? Worse yet, recognize that feeling of having your vision hijacked to satisfy a whim or a weakness you may have?
Harsh, I know. However, this condition is severe. It distracts and, in some cases, derails well-intentioned businesses (and their owners).
In what follows, I will present:
- What Is Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
- Why Does It Happen
- How Do You Know If You Have It
- Tips On How To Avoid / Get Rid Of It
Let’s get started.
What Is Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
Bright shiny object syndrome is a condition of the distracted entrepreneur. These bright shiny objects are the tangents (or rabbit holes) an entrepreneur chooses to chase down that pull them away from and ultimately delay progress toward their stated mission.
Many times these bright shiny objects are rooted in either scarcity or gluttony. Other times, entrepreneurs use them as a form of procrastination.
- Following a new fad to ‘keep up with the Joneses’—even though it contradicts your desired brand.
- Adding an ill-fitted, yet sexy, new product line because one of your competitors is now offering it.
- Forcing a new marketing tactic—even though it doesn’t align with you or your target market.
All of these and more can be very detrimental to your business.
Now imagine the entrepreneur who is chasing after many of these kinds of distractions, all at the same time. It’s not uncommon. As a coach, I see it all the time. It transforms a one-off bright shiny object incident into bright shiny object syndrome.
Why Do Entrepreneurs Fall Victim To Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
Avoidance of Pain (80%)
I’d estimate that approximately 80% of the cases that I have come across as a business coach over the past few decades are due to avoidance of pain. It’s a form of procrastination. Their mind is simply trying to protect itself from something it deems uncomfortable.
Fear is a big driver here.
Therefore, whether consciously or unconsciously, the entrepreneur seeks out (or manifests) distractions. Distractions that correspond to the level of pain they are trying to avoid. These distractions are bright shiny objects.
Gaining Pleasure (20%)
Many entrepreneurs, especially those we deem as serial entrepreneurs, enjoy the thrill of kicking something off—thus putting their vision into play. However, they tend not to enjoy carrying things through. That stuff is flat-out boring. They prefer someone else do that.
I almost liken it to a drug addict constantly seeking out her next fix.
Are You Guilty Of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
Well, are you? Are you guilty of bright shiny object syndrome? How would you know?
Sometimes the best way to explain something is through an example. Here’s a good one.
Don't Overlook Your "Acres of Diamonds"
A great book that I highly recommend reading is “Acres of Diamonds” by Russell H. Conwell.
In a nutshell, it tells of an already wealthy old Persian farmer who gave up everything—his farm—his family—in search of wealth elsewhere. However, ultimately, his search, and he dies in vain—broke and alone.
Wow, depressing, right?
The story continues though. It gets better.
It turns out that the person who bought his farm ended up discovering one of the biggest diamond mines ever. Not in some distant land. He discovered it right in his own backyard! The same backyard that the old Persian farmer gave up on in search of wealth elsewhere.
Do you get the gist of the lesson learned here?
Disregard that old saying: the grass is always greener on the other side (of the fence). Why? It’s nonsense. Didn’t we learn anything from Acres of Diamonds?
Make sure you’re giving your business—your service—your product line the proper due diligence before ignoring it and latching onto the next bright shiny object that crosses your path.
How To Avoid / Get Rid Of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
Alright. So, you are pretty convinced that maybe, just maybe, you, on occasion, may exhibit a tad bit of bright shiny object syndrome.
So what can you do about it?
Here are four things you can do to avoid (or get rid of) bright shiny object syndrome.
1. Revisit Your Vision
Revisit and realign with your company vision. Get crystal clear, once again, on exactly where it is you say you want to go and, most importantly—why.
The intention here is to corral your attention. Doing so will bring your business better results.
2. Focus On The Fewer, Better Opportunities
Not all opportunities are created equal— Regardless of their source.
Use your vision to dictate (and prioritize) what stays and what goes.
Be willing to sacrifice the good to get to the great.
Look to maximize what you already have going on. Not sure how to do that? Get a mentor or a coach that can provide insight and accountability.
Most businesses already have diamonds right inside the fences of their company. Yet they lack the confidence and the foresight to see what lies right in front.
Also, beware of the temptation to take on too much. It’s a passion killer.
Do you ever feel like your wheels are spinning a mile a minute, yet you seem to be moving in slow motion? Worse yet, not moving at all?
Been there, done that! I know it doesn’t feel good. It stokes the temptation to look around for a bright shiny object to bring us that feeling of movement (and accomplishment) once again.
This level of focus will keep you true to your vision and a lot less likely to seek out distraction and instant gratification.
What follows are two worthy books that do a great job on furthering this conversation. Click on either one to read a sample.
3. Delegate What You Procrastinate
Do you find yourself purposely seeking out rabbit holes to chase down so that you can avoid doing something specific?
A typical scenario I see with small businesses is doing anything instead of making the proven effective and vital sales calls, even though the most prominent problem most of those companies face is a lack of sales.
No, not lack of leads. In this case, they have those. It’s a lack of sales that’s the issue.
Instead of avoiding what you know is so, might I suggest a different approach? Get them off your plate. Delegate what you procrastinate.
Where there is a will, there is a way. If you truly buy into your vision, you’ll find a way to delegate those things, let’s face it, you hate.
This is definitely an area where some coaching would help!
4. Get In The Habit of Celebrating Victories (Big & Small)
Ready to celebrate yet?
If so, here’s a music video where that quote I just shared with you comes from.
So in Closing
It’s pretty straightforward.
As entrepreneurs, we are certainly not starving for opportunity. It’s all around us. We are literally drowning in it. Hence bright shiny object syndrome. It runs rampant amongst entrepreneurs.
Do you suffer from it? I believe we all do from time to time.
The key is limiting its ability to linger and cloud your vision.