Shiny Objects Are Great!

How many interests do you have? I have a ton, like…

  • Women’s rights
  • Growing my business
  • Transforming public education
  • Knitting
  • Making art
  • New York Giants
  • Sports, in general
  • Yoga
  • Law of attraction and manifesting
  • Walking the Camino de Santiago

And I usually spend time on each one of those every day. Some may say I’m distracted by shiny objects. Heck, I’ve even said it about myself on occasion. Some have even given an official name to focusing on many seemingly-unrelated things at once: Shiny Object Syndrome.

In a recent Entrepreneur article, Jayson Demers defines Shiny Object Syndrome as follows:

At its core, shiny object syndrome (SOS) is a disease of distraction, and it affects entrepreneurs specifically because of the qualities that make them unique. Entrepreneurs tend to be highly motivated. They crave new technology and new developments. And they aren’t afraid to start new projects and create new things.

Ordinarily, these are great characteristics, but when SOS sets in, it forces you to chase project after project, and change after change, never settling with one option.

It’s called shiny object syndrome because it’s the entrepreneurial equivalent of a small child chasing after shiny objects. Once they get there and see what the object is, they immediately lose interest and start chasing the next thing. For entrepreneurs, rather than literal shiny objects, SBOs may be business objectives, marketing strategies, clients or even other business ventures.

I argue that I’m learning from and gaining advantage from my diverse interests and experience. Marie Forleo calls us multi-passionate, Emilie Wapnick calls us multipotentialites, Barbara Sher calls us scanners. We’ve also been called polymaths and renaissance people. Here’s Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk, where she describes the superpowers that multipotentialites possess:

You don’t have to find your narrow niche. You can create a life and a business that plays to all of your interests and skills. Here are some examples of my own:

  • I use techniques developed by football coaches to manage and motivate teams at work
  • Knitting allows me to meditate and make “brain room” for new ideas
  • My art background informs all of my marketing and materials

The important thing is to feed these interests regularly. The last thing you want is to feel resentful that you’re not doing what you want or what makes you happy. I’m here to tell you that no matter how off-track your interest seems, you will very likely learn something from it to apply to your business or other areas of your life.

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