Mike looked a very frustrated businessman. Indeed he was. For the last ten years he has been in business he has nothing to show. He chronicled ventures he has tried without success and concluded either he is unlucky or cursed.

“I have been trying many things over the years and nothing seems to succeed. The harder I work the more money seems to fly away from me,” he said with a resigned tone.

As I listened to him I realised he suffered from a condition called Shiny Object Syndrome. This is a condition that affects so many people in our society. The victims never attain stability unless they kick it off and settle down. It is prevalent among both entrepreneurs and employed people.

Shiny Object Syndrome draws its name from children’s behaviour of being excited at chasing shiny objects. They however lose interest and halt the chase as soon as they discover them.

The victims of this syndrome never focus or settle or stick to one thing until completion. They keep pursuing anything that looks like an opportunity or establishing emotional relationships that they never nurture to maturity.

Whether you are in business or in employment, many opportunities or baits dressed as opportunities will come your way. If you are not focused and settled on what you want to achieve, you are likely to find yourself struggling and juggling from one thing to another and never achieving much.

Some of the characteristics of people with this syndrome are: First, they get excited and distracted by new opportunities outside their core area. For example you are in clothing business and you suddenly realise there is a lot of money to be made in farming and you jump into it without planning.

If you are employed, you keep moving from one job to another instead of steadily growing your career. You start one business after another and abandon them as fast as you started them, or you are always pursuing deals here and there.

Second, they start so many projects that are abandoned along the way before completion. This happens because they lost interest after spotting another ‘shiny object’. For example they invest in one product or marketing strategy and before implementing it they jump into another that looks more promising.

Third, they are always losing money through fraud, bad business and investment decisions because they don’t take time to evaluate the feasibility or soundness of the ideas or opportunities that are floated to them.

Fourth, they are always busy but with little to show for their hard work and ‘busyness’. They frequently suffer from stress or burnout and their families and close friends complain they are never available for them.

Finally, their lifestyle is characterised by confusion and disorganisation. If they own a business or are in a position of leadership, they make their employees or followers confused. This is due to the fact that they don’t know definitely which direction their firm is headed because the boss keeps making abrupt changes or introducing new projects and halting existing one without notice.

This article was first published in The Business Daily on February 4, 2020.

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