Excellence and Shiny Objects

If you easily get distracted by bright, shiny objects excellence is going to be hard.

I can say that from my own experience. I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy over the years looking for shortcuts when I should have been doing the work of developing competence.

Here’s one example: I was socially awkward and had trouble talking to people. I should have been working on actually talking to people…instead I wasted a lot of time looking for a magic solution. Maybe there were some magic phrases I could say that would instantly make people like me.

Do you remember Cliff’s Notes? Students who didn’t want to read a book, but still wanted an A on their book report could buy these notes instead of reading the book for themselves. They should’ve been reading the book, but it was easier to read the summaries.

They might pass a book report, but they didn’t successfully read the book.

Some people are going to want to blame marketers for this. If there weren’t so many people waving shiny objects around, then we wouldn’t get so distracted! But what if it were the other way around: what if there are so many people waving shiny objects around because we don’t stay focused?

It’s tempting to look for easy. To try to find shortcuts. To think there’s a “too good to be true” hack out there that will really work. We look for them because we want the result without the effort.

And yet, when you listen to successful people talk, they warn against chasing bright shiny objects. They emphasize stuff like learning the fundamentals of the game, getting good at the game, and execute with discipline.

That doesn’t mean you stop learning things. You’ll always be wanting to improve. But it does mean you stop expecting some secret to do the work for you.

Stay focused, and keep moving forward. Even if it’s one step at a time.

To your growth,

John