All entrepreneurs at some point or another 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 serious. 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.

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    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 pulls them away from, and ultimately delays progress toward, their stated mission.

    Many times these bright shiny objects are rooted in either scarcity or gluttony. Other times, they are simply used as a form of procrastination.

    For example:

    • Following a new fad in order 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. This is what 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, the entrepreneur, whether consciously or unconsciously, 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 to not enjoy carrying things through. That stuff is flat out boring. They prefer someone else do that. 

    I almost liken it to a drug addict who is 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. Ultimately, his search, and he, die in vain… broke and alone.

    Wow, depressing… right?

    The story continues though. It gets better.

    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.

    Bummer… right?!

    Do you get the gist of the lesson learned here?

    Disregard that old saying that goes… 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 prior to ignoring it and latching onto the next bright shiny object that crosses your path.

    Acres of Diamonds by Russell H Conwell
    "Acres of Diamonds" is available for free via the public domain. Click the book above to download a copy.

    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?

    Well here are 4 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.

    Dean Mercado Quote - Corral Your Attention With Targeted Intention
    Want Better Results? Corral Your Attention With Targeted Intention

    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 the 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 the temptation to take on too much. This is a passion killer.

    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.

    The One Thing by Gary Keller
    "The One Thing" by Gary Keller
    Essentialism by Greg McKeown
    "Essentialism" by Greg McKeown

    3. Delegate What You Procrastinate

    Do you find yourself purposely seeking out rabbit holes to chase down just so you can avoid doing something specific?

    A common scenario I see all the time with small businesses is doing anything instead of making the proven effective, very necessary, sales calls. Even though the biggest problem most of those companies face is lack of sales.

    No, not lack of leads… in this case, they have those… it’s 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!

    Dean Mercado Quote - Delegate What You Procrastinate
    Delegate What You Procrastinate

    4. Get In The Habit of Celebrating Victories (Big & Small)

    Celebrate those wins!


    It keeps the fires burning. It stokes your passions around your business and your vision for it. It reminds you that good stuff is happening. Shit is getting done!

    That inspires you to stay the course toward what is good and worthy.

    Celebrate the moment
    As it turns into one more
    Another chance at victory
    Another chance to score

    Neil Peart - From the Song "One Little Victory" by Rush Tweet

    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 clear isn’t it?

    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… limiting it’s ability to linger and cloud your vision.

    Want More On Bright Shiny Object Syndrome?

    Here’s a video I shot back in 2013 for Online Marketing Muscle on the subject. For the most part, it’s just as relevant today as it was back then. Take a peek.

    Share on facebook
    Share on twitter
    Share on linkedin


    The Dean Mercado Company helps Small Business Owners optimize and scale their business.


    150 Motor Pkwy, Suite 401
    Hauppauge, NY 11788
    ☏ 631-333-7436

    Scroll to Top