Big Shiny Objects



big shiny objectsWe love the big shiny objects as they are that nod of approval, a trophy/award that tells everyone we are the best. It is that one thing that we work so hard for and is very defining for who we are and what we are capable of. When we are overlooked, we are disappointed and put on the Rachel Green face of clapping with that fake smile and head nod. We know that we do it as it is that saving face moment while inside we are stewing and trying to think of new ways that we can get that shiny object.

I can remember in high school as a cross country runner all I wanted was a hanging medal. I had so many medals as our team was really good but they were in a case. Lots of Gold, some silver and even some bronze, I had a lot but the one thing was that stinken hanging medal. Not many races had them but the ones that did, generally it was the top 25 that received one. Well, not being Speedy Gonzalez I had to work hard to be a team member and have my time count (in CC, you run 7 but the only first 5 count) but at the same time when I saw the medals before the race, and if was that big shiny object of a hanging medal, I knew I had to have it.

Big Shiny Objects

Friday started Spring Break for my son. It is our first one as he is in kindergarten. As his good friend walked out of classroom, I saw he had a big shiny trophy. Hmh. Were we having a situation where every child received one and the greatness of the shiny object was diminished? No that was not the case. This boy earned it for either jogging faster or jogging more laps (info from a 6 yr old is not always reliable) than any other kindergartener … he earned it. As much as my son was miffed he understood that sometimes people do better than us while it stinks, we have to be happy for them. Teaching that to a child is not easy especially when we live in a world where everyone gets something. While this may should a bit harsh, we have taught that you receive a trophy for just showing up and/or being a part of the team and not for working hard and earning it.

Working Hard to Earn

I am old school – I like to work hard to earn. Sure, sometimes I want that break, we all do. But if you are like me, you want to save it up as if we should ever need that break, it will come. Work hard, then work harder all the while never looking over your shoulder. Looking back in running is the worst thing you can ever do. It takes you off your stride and focus. In business when we are nose down and start to look over our shoulder, the same thing happens – we even, if for an instant look over, we lose focus. The worst case scenario, is if that instant causes us to pay more attention to them or this or that, we are starting to chase.

Chasing can be inspirational but at the same time take us off course of working hard to earn. Any big name, a-lister, blogger, etc has worked hard to earn. Of course there is that few that has had been in the right place at the right time (aka the cast of Jersey Shore) and was sleeping while we were working. While not to discredit their abilities, they are not working hard (unless if you consider taking hints from the producers to “do this” for ratings is hard work), and their fame is short lived. They are chasing the next gig as once the show is over they are out of the limelight their fame is gone.

The Lifespan of the Big Shiny Object

The big shiny object has a lifespan. Once you get it, you are on top of the world but then that voice inside says to you what is next? How can I get the next shiny object? We love the shiny object and look at it regularly but want to challenge ourselves to get the next one as heck, we got this one so we can definitely get the next one. If we have a ebook that sells 200 then our next one will be better as we got our feet wet and know what to do next time to sell 400 or even 500. 600 or 1000. The big shiny object when we have it, makes us want more. The lifespan of the first is short lived as our focus is on what is the next one. There is always a next one unless we are content which for most being content does not come easy. The fame and fortune forgetting about all that goes with it. The hard work goes with it. If we  have a great blog post that crashes our server, we are flying on air but yet the next day racking our brain to have another one. The shiny object loses its importance as we got that one and now set our eyes on living up to and also a bigger one.

We all love big shiny objects as they give us something to believe in and strive for. It is something we need to to continue to push forward and achieve. When everyone gets a prize, we are feeling like we belong but yet are just another face in the crowd. When we are singled out, it is our face that stands high above the crowd. That is what I am trying to teach my son, work hard, practice and and guess what, when he flawlessly sounds out a word in reading that I never thought he could, the reward is a big praise but yet the next day followed by a harder book. He is 6 so he knows, the better he does, the more he gets and the more he wants. Working hard does reap the rewards even if it is just a being handed something more difficult … sometimes the more difficult is the is the shiny object.

P.S. I did earn the hanging medal.


photo credit: terren in Virginia

  • Excellent life lesson, Suzanne. Funny how we can learn so much from our children.

    • Marla

      The best thing sometimes about our children is we re-learn so many life lessons but are so much wiser when we-learning

  • Last Sunday I was at Disneyland for a few hours before I headed towards the airport and I observed how at one of their shows they pick some children out of the crowd to become part of the show.

    I have to say they did pick as many as they could. It was an occasion where me being a new father got me to think on how those kids that did not get picked felt. After a few minutes of thinking it over I got to the conclusion that throughout life you are not always going to get picked or achieve everything you want.

    Reading this post confirms exactly the conclusion I reached.

    We all need to lose to be able to enjoy even more when we win.

    • Raul

      I get sad when my son gets left out but then again that is how he learns. At 6 you are learning who you are and wanting to fit in and have the same things that your friends have. However, learning what you are different at and better at is so much more of a lesson. On page 200 of Carol Roth’s The Entrepreneur Equation she talks about the trophy kids and how they are not good entrepreneurs as there are no points for just participating in business … wells she goes on to say the special prize is bankruptcy.

      Something to think about.

  • Wow, this is a post that applies to everyone. Not only the big shiny object gives us a goal to strive for, it also reminds us of our past accomplishments, especially in the ‘pit’ moments. Sometimes it is just that extra assurance we need to say “if i can do that in the past, i can make this one happen too!”

    • Jan

      I did not think of it that way. Interesting POV. I like it. I am writing that down on the paper (yes I still use paper and pen) to flesh out a bit further. I did before, I can do again.

      Thanks so much for adding this. Quite powerful