The Truth About Shiny Object Syndrome
Let me ask you a question:
What does SOS mean?
Everyone knows the answer to this, right? It means, “Save Our Souls”, or perhaps, “Save Our Ship”, in Morse code.
Nope! It doesn’t.
While the use of those mnemonics has become commonplace, the letters SOS have no significance other than that the distress code was easy to transmit.
You may have heard examples of the easy-to-remember message:
SOS in Morse code is often translated thus: … — … (dit-dit-dit dah-dah-dah dit-dit-dit (with spaces between the letters.))
However, the correct code is actually: …—… (dit-dit-dit-dah-dah-dah-dit-dit-dit (one continuous sequence, as it’s not meant to be understood as individual letters, rather SOS is simply a convenient way to remember the sequence.))
This article from BoatSafe.com talks about the subject in more detail, if you’d like to know more.
One thing I never got around to asking my dad when he was alive is whether he knew the origin of the SOS code, the reason being that when he was in the army he was in the Royal Signals. No, he wasn’t one of the guys who does crazy stunts on motorbikes! Rather, he was a wireless operator and thus used Morse code.
Aside from that little lesson in SOS simply being an interesting (or perhaps not!) bit of info, I will be applying this to Internet marketing, as always.
Internet Marketing S.O.S.
I’m sure you’ve come across another S.O.S. – Shiny Object Syndrome.
Shiny Object Syndrome, in case you don’t know, is a term often used in Internet marketing to describe any new product that compels you to buy it, whether or not you need it or it is, in fact, any good. But perhaps you are taken in by the well-crafted sales letter, the promises of what the product will do for you, or simply the fact that it looks cool.
Yes, like a magpie drawn to a shiny object that it simply must pick up, you find yourself drawn inexorably to new products. This is what is commonly known as Shiny Object Syndrome. Having said that, a study has been done that apparently refutes the idea that magpies are attracted to shiny objects. Oh well, for the moment let’s just put that aside and imagine that they are.
Now, if you haven’t noticed this already, you soon will:
Internet Marketers love to latch onto a particular phrase, acronym, mnemonic or bandwagon and beat the death out of it. Most of us are guilty of this.
For example, I’m sure you’ve come across the derision of ‘goo-roos‘. Yes, to be labelled a “guru” is tantamount to slander in the eyes of some. Yet, should a person really be punished for being knowledgeable or an expert?
Of course, this isn’t the intention.
Rather, there have been so many supposed gurus around over the years who have proclaimed so much, yet delivered so little, that the title of “guru” has become synonymous with someone who ought to be avoided and ignored rather than be rightly attributed to those who deserve the moniker.
Likewise, you may have come across similar derision when it comes to the subject of ‘shiny objects’:
“You don’t need to buy shiny objects.”
“Are you suffering from shiny object syndrome?”
“Shiny objects aren’t the answer.”
Ironically, many will claim, within their own sales material, that you don’t need to buy shiny objects. Yet, they want you to buy whatever it is that they are offering – yes, in itself, another ‘shiny object’, when all said and done.
Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Neither am I saying that you shouldn’t buy shiny objects. Heck, I’m not even going to go to one side or the other on this and say whether or not shiny objects, as such, even exist.
The reason I’m going over this subject is because, just like so many things, it can be so easy to be misled.
What I’m going to do here is highlight some principles that should help you to determine whether or not you should buy something in a given situation.
Shiny or nay is irrelevant.
To Buy, Or Not To Buy
“All that glitters is not gold.”
In other words, not everything that is shiny and attractive on the outside is valuable.
Now, this can certainly be said about a lot of products on sale in the make money online niche as well as, I’m sure, in many other niches too. Hence why there are so many warnings about guarding yourself against buying ‘shiny objects’.
Conversely, just because something isn’t packaged in the most attractive way doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable.
But no matter how shiny and attractive the thing is (or not), is not the point.
The point is, do you really need it?
Would you really use it?
Will this help you in your business?
If the answer to those questions is “No”, then don’t buy the thing.
But let’s get something straight here.
So many of the (okay, I’ll switch into good old derision mode here) ‘gurus’ will claim that you don’t need to keep buying courses, e-books or systems.
In part, I will agree with them. Endlessly learning and taking no action will not get you anywhere, especially if you’re being blinded by the shiny aspect and you’re hoping for a ‘magic bullet’ (there’s another one of those oft-used Marketers’ phrases!).
You should never stop learning. Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing at all wrong in buying more and more information.
After all, Napoleon Hill promoted and encouraged this very thing in his book, “Think and Grow Rich“, a book that so many Internet Marketers draw inspiration and direction from.
In that same book, the account of Henry Ford is related in which he defended himself in court and highlighted how he had a series of buttons on his desk that he could press at any time and summon a man to answer any question he required the answer to with regards to the business he was working in.
Yes, Mr Ford knew the wisdom in being able to acquire information.
The same applies to you and me.
If you need to learn something, learn it. If that means that you need to buy an e-book or course to do so, then buy it.
If you see a piece of software that you know will enhance what you are doing now in your business or that you know you will use for certain, then buy it.
The point is this: just because a particular guru or perhaps even your mentor advises against buying ‘shiny objects’, it doesn’t mean that you should be in fear of buying something you need or would find useful. Heck, even if it’s something that would simply enhance your knowledge in a certain field, don’t avoid buying it simply because you don’t want to keep buying ‘shiny objects’.
But there lies the caveat – it has to be something that would benefit you. If you’re in the habit of buying things just because it looks cool and you want it rather than because you need it and/or would use it, then it would be better to refrain from buying the thing.
Likewise, if you’re in the habit of buying the latest ‘game changing’ method, loophole or system simply because you think that each time it could be ‘the one’ rather than buying it to enhance your knowledge and thus, your business, then again, you’d be better not buying it.
But don’t hold back if something can be beneficial. So long as it doesn’t adversely affect what you’re doing in your business and it can help you in the long run then, by all means, buy it. If it shines, it’s good and it will benefit you, then don’t be afraid of getting it.
Of course, a good coach or mentor wouldn’t advise you to avoid buying things just for the sake of it. Like me, they would advise against buying ‘shiny objects’ simply on the basis of their attractiveness. Of course they wouldn’t discourage you from buying anything that would help you in your business or your education.
But it can be so easy to go from one extreme to the other, going almost all out so as to avoid buying anything at all and almost looking over your shoulder in fear on the occasions that you do buy something, worried in case your coach finds out and gives you a telling off!
That’s not how things should be.
Just as the automatic assumption that SOS means “Save Our Souls” is incorrect, the automatic assumption that all ‘shiny objects’ must be avoided is also incorrect.
I’m not suggesting that anyone does actively recommend avoiding all ‘shiny objects’, although I imagine that there are probably those who do. But it can be so easy for us to interpret things that way ourselves and to be overly strict and, in turn, end up harming and restricting ourselves by not buying worthwhile things just as much as if we were buying worthless things.
So yes, it could well be that, instead of wanting to avoid S.O.S. you may actually need it. Okay, perhaps not the “syndrome” part, because that would imply a problem, but certainly a ‘shiny object’ could be worth having. But, to emphasise the point again, only if it’s something that you will use and will benefit you in some way.
Over to You
What ‘shiny objects’ have you bought that you wouldn’t be without?
Let me know in the comments below.
Next week I’ll be talking about saving time. We all want to save time and make life easier, right? But is this always for the good? Be sure to check back next week for the answer.