“Shiny Object Season” is here again

“Shiny Object Season” is here again

This is an adaptation of a post that I wrote just over a year ago – it feels like it’s “that time of year” again so I’m reposting it as it could act as a timely reminder for you.

The post last year was prompted by one of my clients posting in our Facebook group that she hadn’t had time to write a blog post that month.  “Something had to give” is what she said.   And as her business mentor I felt super proud of her.


Because it showed that she knew what actions were the most important in her business.  And which ones were “nice to do” but not critical to her success at that time.

And this made me reflect.   Because it is the end of May, and just as we are in spring and everything outdoors appears brighter, sunnier and richer in colour, so it is also springtime in my mentoring group and it is very much “shiny object season”.

shiny object syndrome

This is the time, about 4-5 months into a programme, when people start to feel that they are not seeing results quickly enough.   They stop trusting the process.    They are on the right path and there are green shoots and even major celebrations – but they still can’t quite see their destination up ahead – instead what they are glimpsing in the undergrowth around them is other people making more progress with a different strategy.  Or a different path that from afar looks clearer and more direct than theirs – maybe they should leave theirs and cut across to that one.  Or another teacher waving a shiny golden flag and promising endless riches if they just adopt his strategy instead.

And so at around this time my job as guide becomes just that – encouraging people to stick to their path.

And no random path either, but the path that they sat down with me and mapped out at the very beginning, that they knew in their heart was right for them.

Because if you keep changing path you will never reach your destination.

I recognise this “shiny object syndrome” so well because this used to be me before I learned that half of the secret to business success is focus.   I remember bouncing between wanting an online marketing business and a speaking business.  I thought it was essential I mastered blogging, social media and video marketing.   Every new teacher I came across had the answers.  And I was continually attending the next “must do” course that came along.  Learning continually but not actually moving forward.

In the end the real secret to my success wasn’t down the particular strategies I followed (although of course they helped).   It was working with a great mentor who got me to narrow down all the various things I was juggling unsuccessfully and boil it down to one simple strategy.  And then stick to it.  (And no, I wasn’t an overnight success either.  Like most people I started small and grew from there).

The truth is that one single business owner alone can’t implement all the different marketing and sales strategies that are out there.   

Yes, maybe one day you will have the team and the resources to do it all perfectly.
But until then – I’ve got news for you – you’ve got an “imperfect” business.   And within your imperfect business you can’t do it all.

The clients I see that are the most successful are the ones that choose one clear strategy and follow it – often a very simple one.

So simple in fact that most of you would take one look at it, decide it’s too simple and want to go off and make things complicated instead.  I’ve certainly seem this behaviour recently in a couple of my clients!

So this prompted me to decide to share a sage bit of advice based on my own experience and that of my clients.

If you are serious and committed to growing your business then here’s what I recommend:

1.  Choose a mentor or teacher to guide you.

And choose them carefully.

Above all you must trust and respect them – because if you don’t then you are not going to stick with the plan when the going gets tough (and it does get tough, even when you are fully on purpose)

2.   Sit down with them and set your direction or strategy for the next 3 – 6 months

This one is very important.   So I’ll repeat it.  Trust the process.

4.   Review regularly and adjust if necessary.   
But this should always be a conscious change of direction based on feedback from your market or clear evidence that something isn’t working – not because you’ve seen something glittering through the trees and have run off to see if it might get you there quicker.

It also doesn’t mean that there will be no further training – because in order to achieve your plan you might need to learn some new stuff – how to sell from the stage, how to market & run webinars, how to create videos that go viral.   But do this wisely.  As part of your overall strategy not because it is glittering at you full of the promise of riches.

Because there IS no magic bullet in business.  There IS no one shiny, solution that works for everyone.  If there was then we would ALL have super-successful businesses almost effortlessly – and it just doesn’t work like that.

What I see marks out the successes from the not-successes is the ability to stick to a plan and see it through without getting diverted by a “better idea” or a louder marketing message.

It reminds me of a fable I heard about woodpeckers chopping down trees:

“Peck, peck” go the woodpeckers.
“Oh, I’m not getting anywhere!  There’s another tree over there I think I’ll go and peck that one instead”.
“Peck, peck, peck”.
“Oh, this one is no better than the last – but that one over  there looks like it might be easier”

Meanwhile there is one lone woodpecker pecking and pecking and pecking away at just one tree.

Until the tree falls down

And all the other woodpeckers look round and ask themselves “Wow, look what he’s done, how the heck did he do that? What is his secret?”

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Please leave a comment as I would love to hear your thoughts


  1. Gary on May 16, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Catherine, I totally agree.

    There seems to be a lack of courage, conviction and commitment out there with some people. They are struggling, feel a bit helpless so go searching for ‘help’… in the form of the latest fad, the latest fashion in Social Media (obsession with it is killing businesses because they miss the easy money), the clique of self-styled gurus doing the rounds.

    I was interviewed by Breakthrough Expert Alan Forrest Smith recently… and we were talking about this a lot during our conversation.

    So many people think business is easy. They want instant success. They seek the ‘magic bullet’. It’s nonsense. As you say, it takes time to build things.

    One prospect came to me and it was clear (a) they had done the ‘rounds’ of the gurus (b) they were receiving conflicting advice and guidance (c) they were confused by it all and (d) they had spent (invested would make it sound like they knew what they were doing) the same amount of money that would have enabled them to walk into a prestige car showroom and drive away any model on site.

    When I calmly reflected this back to the person they still didn’t get it. Naturally I have not heard from them since.

    A ship will always encounter rough seas and oceans at some point. The captain stays on course. That’s how he ensures he reaches the destination.

    Your message is a timely reminder and I hope people pay it the attention it deserves.

    • Catherine on May 17, 2016 at 8:40 am

      Yes I see it a lot Gary, people thinking that if they just throw more money at things, pay one more guru, sometimes to learn the same thing they have already learned 5 times already but they are not actually doing it. I think it can actually be a form of procrastination – that belief that the “next person” has all of the answers stops people actually taking the important non-perfect action right now today. I heard a quote recently, I think it was Marie Forleo it went something like this: “There is nothing you can learn from someone else that can ever be more powerful in taking your business forward than the small consistent actions you take daily”.

  2. Louise on May 9, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Brilliant – so true – every single word and very timely for me too as I am just sitting down to write next year’s strategy! Thank you Catherine – I will print this out and stick it on my wall (getting crowded with all your other great advice!). Looking forward to being a lone pecker (I think!).

    • Catherine on May 10, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Hi Louise, I’m glad you liked it and it was such perfect timing for you. Yes keep that woodpecker front of mind 🙂

  3. Jillian on May 4, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Thank you for this blog post. It was perfect timing for me as I’ve been facing “shiny object syndrome” 🙂 I love how so much information is available but sometimes it feels like you’re chasing one thing after another: I need to do this…oh, this looks just the thing…maybe I need to….I ought to be doing such and such…and on and on. I’ve been enticed by louder marketing messages and slick sales pitches until it feels relentless. What you said about a simple strategy felt very restful and is exactly what is right for me! So often it feels the simple is treated as ineffective and not valued and yes, we decide things ought to be more complicated! Loved the woodpecker story. Thank you for a most helpful post.

    • Catherine on May 5, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Jillian
      I’m so glad you found it useful, and thank you for commenting. Yes there is always so much calling for our attention and sounding exciting and “must do”. It’s exactly the same for me too by the way!. One of the biggest factors to success is knowing what to focus on and sticking with that one thing. And consistent action on the simplest things will yield far better results than jumping from one new clever thing to another. Catherine

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