Bright shiny object syndrome? Don’t fight it
It is not about acquiring cars, yachts, jewellery, or extra houses.
No it is about the things that could genuinely turn our business life around. A new piece of software or plug in to improve your website, a new piece of video kit that will make your podcasts or video better and more share-able, a new phone with amazing capability.
But the brightest and shiniest of all is a new business idea. We entrepreneurs and business owners love a new idea.
Do you have bright shiny object syndrome?
- Do you buy more courses than you “should” – and some are unopened.
- Do you have more books on your shelves than you have read? Maybe a lot more.
- Do you have software which you haven’t fully mastered? Correction – do you have software you haven’t even taken for a leisurely Sunday afternoon outing let alone out on the racetrack?
- Do you get new business ideas all the time?
The brightest and shiniest of all are the new business ideas. We entrepreneurs and business owners love a new idea. At last we can conquer the world! The product or project is the perfect answer and makes sense of it all. All failures will be forgotten.
Is the brightness and shininess just a distraction?
Friends and family can be appalled by our bright shiny object syndrome. They are sensible and they do not get it. They see it as simply a distraction.
If it really is a distraction maybe you just are a bit bored. To test this give yourself some good time off and a change of scene. When you come back you will bring new energy and a new sense of possibility to the old idea.
If your symptoms are very acute you will be able to tell by looking back at your own work and life. (It is difficult to tell once we are in its grip). What happened to the old thing if you went for the new?
Did it die quietly? Did it gradually lose life and cost you a lot of hassle while it did?
Or did you take a tip from “The EMyth Revisited” – Michael E Gerber’s essential guide for small business – and found a “Manager” type who would take your idea and nurture it to success? You recognised your own limitations and walked off into a pink fluffy sunset of new possibility. Well done.
Giving up after hard-won success. Is it a symptom?
Sometimes bright shiny object syndrome can kick in after long-awaited success. You have chased success all the time, but once you get there, you lose interest and want something new.
I heard yesterday about someone who after a lot of trial and error finally started making real money in his gardening business. Real profit to the tune of more thousands than he could imagine. It all happened in a single year.
Excellent you would think. Presumably he wants more of it.
The new shiny object appeared in the unlikely guise of “free money” as a pension from the government. Yes, although he is fit and healthy and still able to work, he has just reached the age of 65.
He is downsizing, moving and giving up his business. All that hard work building the foundations and connections for his local business will be lost. Of course he will take his skills and expertise with him to the new area, but in fact he wants to stop.
Having finally built up the reputation to get work easily, the connections to deliver it with the help of others and create a satisfying profit it seems a surprising decision. Surely one or two years of success would create more financial gain than the pension?
Or is it just a case of bright shiny object syndrome? He has had many career changes in his life and perhaps this is just one more? It is not about the years of financial lack, nor the recent success but simply that something brighter and shinier is calling?
What do you do when a newer shinier thing appears in your business?
The big problem for many entrepreneurs is to take the middle way. Give yourself permission to enjoy the new shiny thing without giving up on the old which is not yet successful.
A client has just asked me a question which effectively meant “Shall I do the new exciting thing that I am really motivated about, or work on the old boring business that I need to turn into a better asset to sell?”
When I asked her which she wanted to do she said the new thing was where she wanted to focus. (Of course).
This question had therefore become an Either / Or Situation. All boring on one hand and all exciting on the other. The problem here is that if the exciting thing fails to be exciting shortly (as often happens) the big millstone worry has not moved forward either.
Rather than an Either / Or question a better way to think about it is to see if both approaches can be integrated. Acknowledging your own energy and motivation is very important, but seeing whether it could impact the “boring but essential” option.
In my client’s case the new exciting thing has congruency in the “boring” business. It will build up the asset base and make the business more attractive to a potential purchaser. So she can honour how she is feeling right now, and it will also help to chip away at the “boring business” problem. She has the added advantage of testing the new thing on an established web presence more easily than if she were starting from scratch.
When bright shiny object syndrome kicks in day to day ask yourself:
Is this an Either / Or situation I am creating?
Where do I want to spend my energy?
Could I turn this from an Either / Or to a Both / And situation?
As an entrepreneur you probably don’t like being told what to do. Even by yourself. Especially if you don’t want to do it.
So if you don’t let you do what is calling to you (effectively being the Boss from Hell) you are likely to feel resentful. By honouring where your energy is you will enjoy yourself more and are more likely to create success. But better still if you can bring some vitality to a difficult problem that has to be faced your long term future gets more secure.
Get the boring job done.
Sometimes I just treat myself as though I am about 6 years old. I work on the boring thing for a certain amount of time then can do the exciting thing. This approach works well for me with Accounts. I sneak it a bit of Accounts Time (not too long or I wouldn’t do it at all) then feel very resourceful and bring more energy to the fun activity.
Let’s face it even shiny things lose their lustre. Sometimes we just have to plod on through. And the surprising thing is that when we get through to the other side, they were never as bad as we imagined!
Enjoy your love of bright and shiny objects! Not everyone has it. Is it endless distraction or unlimited success? Your choice.