What does a teenage run away, Buddhist monk, Geisha girl and Bill Gates have in common? They’re all connected to Christine Comaford whom I heard speak recently at the BCHRMA annual conference. Don’t know her? Here’s some background:
- she ran away at 16
- she’s a high school and college drop out
- she was a Buddhist monk
- she trained as a Geisha for a short time
- Bill Gates calls her “super high bandwidth”
- Bill Clinton has thanked her for “fostering American entrepreneurship.”
I took away tons from her workshop including what she calls Shiny Object Syndrome . We succumb to Shiny Object Syndrome when we get pulled off our path, our vision, our dream by something irrelevant, off topic, and unhelpful.
The challenge is whatever is pulling you off our path initially appears seductive, attention grabbing and highly interesting, that’s why it’s shiny.
Alexandra Samuel, who blogs for Oprah, says to stay on path we need to have strategic tunnel vision.
I say we need to be able to distinguish between two kinds of shiny.
- A golden nugget is something that catches your attention and makes you detour but in a good way. You’re still going to reach your dream, your vision but the path you take changes because of a fantastic resource, connection, or unusual idea you’ve come up with.
- Nuggets are great. They’re valuable and lead us to our goal, just in a different way.
- If we don’t pay attention to nuggets then we can be too rigid, sticking to a path for the sake of the path, not the destination.
- Styrofoam is deceptive, it glitters in the sun but it’s trashy and terrible for the environment.
- Styrofoam leads us off path and not in a good way.
- Examples of styrofoam shiny are complaining about not having enough time (Tim Ferris of the 4 Hour Work Week says lack of time is lack of priorities), vegging out for hours on tasks that aren’t strategic or not having a dream or vision in the first place.
Tell the difference between gold and styrofoam and you’ll be strategic, focused and flexible.