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  • Writer's pictureJohn Brandy

Shiny Object Syndrome

Updated: Apr 5

We're going to talk about shiny object syndrome.

Shiny object syndrome is something that I have.

Oh, I’m going to have a field day with this one!

I'm sure Doubting Thomas can have a field day with that one.

I just said that!

Would you care to know what it means, first?

No. I couldn’t hold my dumb opinions if I knew what it meant!

Well, there is that!

By the way, are you aware that we can hear you?

Is that some kind of sarcasm?

No, it was just a distraction.

Oh, sort of like the scams of next week’s episode number 44.

Not exactly, although scams can be distractions, especially to anyone's current plan.

Is that our listener anchor for the week?

The Show Notes top, right?

Yes, that bit. That sentence. That, you know, thing.

That’s it!

Yes. I’ll question reality on the fly, I guess.

Sounds like a plan, DT!

Well, SOS, which is what some people call Shiny Object Syndrome is distraction. People who are business owners tend to be highly motivated. They like technology, new projects and new developments.

What's wrong with a new business idea?

If it makes you go on a wild goose chase after changes without settling, or while delaying picking one and getting started, that's a problem.

Yes, I was going to say. Real progress is important.

Can I relate it to sports?

Do we have a choice?

Do you like baseball?


I said, do you like baseball?


Because my earliest recollection of the term “Shiny Object Syndrome” is related to the Ken Burns baseball series, which ran on television in the year 1994.

As with all stories, there's lots of chapters that were more like episodes, and in one of those episodes Burns makes mention of Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Rube Walberg, back in the 1920’s.

Yeah, just after Cleveland won a World Series.

Careful, DT. They won in 1948 too.

Oh right. Less than 75 years ago.

As I was saying, before being distracted by Doubting Thomas…

Wait, you said Philadelphia.


I thought they were the Oakland A’s.

They are now. They moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City and then again to Oakland.

You remind me of this old major leaguer,

And how he was easily distracted by things?

No, his tough workout regimen, you idiot. Seriously, yes, how he was a great pitcher, by the way, when going to his record, his Hall of Fame qualifications.

Yeah, and other teams figured out how to best him by distracting him from his primary job, which was being a “lights out” pitcher as they say, and for a really good team.

And this was very effective.

And this is referred to the distractions, referred to in daily life as shiny things.

And hence, shiny object syndrome!

Yes, DT! You got it! Shiny object syndrome!

Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.

Down, King Lear! Down boy!

Be no more distracted from your task.

Yes, my liege. Oh, wait, Rube. The Rube guy.

Rube Walberg?

Yes, the pitcher.

So that’s the thing. By distracting him, they took away his focus.

And without his focus he had no meaningful life!

Kind of like Samson without his hair. He didn’t have the mojo to overpower them anymore.

You said you have Shiny Object Syndrome.

Yes, I admit that I do.

When I see…

Or are shown…

Right, or when I am shown something new, some little solution on the computer, I have a tendency to go try it out now, even though I have more important things to do.

It’s delayed doing the right thing in the past, and I don’t allow that to happen anymore.

When somebody suggests something to you, you immediately go there and try to learn more about it.

Which I’ve learned is not the thing to be focused on.

What should you focus on?

Well, since this is investing, you should focus on your original goals.

Like Walberg should have just focused on getting the hitters out.

What was his record, by the way?

More wins than losses, but barely, like 155 – 141 or something like that. But he had the stuff to maybe be a Hall of Famer, he just let the focus thing get him too much.

Would it be too much to ask for an example? Maybe even a coaching plan?

No, DT. An example would be great!

Oh! You mean an example from me?

I do.

And I will. But first I do hereby lawfully declare you ready for a break.

Wow. That's one of the biggest opportunities ever!

In the book, The One Thing, by Gary Keller, we learn that recovering from distractions, such as phone calls or “urgent” emails, is insanely costly.

Is that the Keller-Williams guy?

Yep, him. Even though we think we’ll just “get that thing real quick”, we’re not considering any of the associated problems.

After we reply to the email, we still think about it. We think about how it affects our calendar, and our objectives. We think about what the other person might think when they read it. We might even wish we could undo the thing.

Bottom line, by saying yes to that email or phone call or any number of other distractions, we really commit to having our focus taken off another task.

At least for some period…

Right! And we may not want that.

Or multitasking. We shouldn’t do that either.

Why not?

Because it always means focusing on more than one thing at a time.

Have I told you the one about Kim Peek?

You have actually, but you should still share it with our listeners.

Okay, the short version is…

Real short.

Yes, the REAL short version is that Kim is the guy portrayed by actor Dustin Hoffman in the movie “Rainman”.

Oh, the guy who could recall the phonebook.

Yep! That’s him. He could read the left page with his left eye and the right page with his right eye, on top of having an incredible memory.

He was doing two things at once?

At least – maybe more! But, and here’s the key, he was NOT multitasking, and he was not using a bunch of tech tools, either.


He had a missing connection between his left brain and his right brain.

How missing?

Missing just in the sense that most people, almost everyone in fact, has this connection.

Which is good, right?

For some things, sure! But in Kim’s case, they weren’t, so he actually had two brains. He could do two independent things at the same time because of that.

Easier comparison, please.

Sure! Your computer.

My computer?

Yep. It has a “quad core processor”, or maybe more than one!


So, the “quad core” means, in effect, four brains.

Which means?

Which means it can do four different things at all once and not be multitasking.

Napoleon Hill once said that definition of multitasking is doing a bunch of things and none of them well.

And there’s that Russian thing.

Yes, that old saying about chasing two rabbits and catching neither one.

Which is why I much prefer focusing.

Back to the recovery from distractions.

Right, it is very much related.

We must be realistic about how much time things can cost.

Absolutely! By the way, good luck with that.

Thanks, DT! Since honesty is the best policy, as we’re all taught as kids…

If it takes 23 minutes to recover from an email distraction, then our “just get that thing real quick” really means “real quick plus 23 minutes”.

If you don’t believe me, look at people’s reaction in real time to someone else saying something like that.

Did I say I don’t believe you?

No, you didn’t, and also, I’m not saying that email or phone, or the internet, or social media are all bad.

Don’t misunderstand.

They’re no worse than all-hands meetings, gossip or smoke breaks.

Oh yeah, I LOVE all-hands meetings. Heh. Heh. Heh.

We just must be realistic with setting expectations, including the ones we have for ourselves.

Right, so connect this to Shiny Object Syndrome again.

When somebody suggests something to you, do you immediately go there?

How fast do you substitute it for something with which you're already perfectly satisfied?

Sounds like marketing to me.

It is a bit. There's creating a desire and a want and a need, a FOMO if you will, to fulfill a gap.


Fear Of Missing Out – doing something because “everyone else is doing it”.

And this ties into investing how?

By instead focusing on what you’re doing, which we’ll look at after this break.

Did you just say that you must focus to invest?

No, I didn’t say that.

But do you?

It helps. It's sure a good way to get the wheels in motion.

Give me an example.

Okay, and thanks for not making fun of my imagination this time.

Oh, you’re not going THERE again, are you?

Yes, I am. That’s where a lot of examples live.

Oh, how silly. They all have quotable facts and metrics, don’t they?

If they need them, then yes.

But if they are just there to help make a point…then made-up things, or imaginary things, are just fine.

An imaginary idea can also be a brilliant idea.

Sigh. Your imaginary thingy then, please.

Yes, my example. In this story,

In my head…

You are an expert in crypto.

How so?

You eat Dogecoins for breakfast.

I do wish thou were a dog, that I might love thee something.

Timon of Athens, right?

I quote what I quote, dude.

And you distract a lot, too.

Kuf. Heh.

Continuing without your help…You’ve been fully engaged with a particular cryptocurrency website. You invest there, you read their blog, maybe more.

And then - someone suggests you check out another site.

Ack! Yes! A Shiny Object! But you’re helpless!

You go there and, even worse,


You COMPARE to what you’re doing now!

Oh, so comparing is bad now?

No, not if you don’t over-analyze and do nothing.

Or waste time doing nothing until you know everything.

You can jump in, with the rest of this knowledge in place, and get some OJT.

Ugh. Acronyms.

On-the-job training, we called it as kids. Learning by doing.

What’s the result?

I am invested in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Not overweighted but invested.

So that huge price peak in 2017 is all yours, right?

Perfect example! No!


It only stayed there a few days. It's lower today…


But it's also a lot more stable.

It’s focused.

And it will keep growing.

We’ll talk about that in a future show.

For now, it’s much better to stay focused on being in the habit.

And remember to do better the next time.

And what do you do in order to remember?

You practice.

Right, which leads to:


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