Avoid Being Distracted by Shiny Pennies

iStock_000014402814_ExtraSmallA common challenge for business owners and executives is to avoid “tripping over shiny pennies.” What does that mean? It is the attraction and distraction of the newest, latest, greatest shiny object in our path.

We all seem to have a trained eye to spot the bright copper commodity at our feet, no matter where we are headed. The shine is overwhelming. We stop. We pick it up. We put it in our pocket. Then we declare our latest “find” to be lucky. A sign of great fortunes to come.

Shiny pennies reflect a fiery glow that is hard to avoid. Old pennies lack the shine and sleekness that keep our attention. They seem drab. They are tried and have traveled far, gathering dirt and grime along the way. They often find homes in jars, drawers and bottles. New pennies have power. We have willed the new penny with charm, a source of inspiration, as we traverse along the pathway of possibilities.

The penny is representative of all the ideas and opportunities that land in front of us, one right after the other. Every time we stop to evaluate a new idea, we are taking our attention away from our current plan of action. Navigating through the countless opportunities, or shiny pennies, requires determined focus and unbridled commitment to a planned strategy. Unfortunately, in business the sparkling object we stop and pick up is often worth exactly the minted value – ONE CENT. Consuming ourselves by the possibilities of what the perceived lucky penny might bring can actually cost a business many pennies, if not fortunes.

New is not to be avoided. New keeps us innovating and trying to do more. However, the overwhelming desire to continually focus on the new penny in our pocket, can be a big distraction from working on the current business plan. Shiny pennies have a time and place. Some will need proper evaluation and careful consideration. If you are feeling consumed by all the shiny pennies, set a time in your day or week to focus on these new ideas. Plan for “new” and budget accordingly. Use a defined process in your calculation of the promise and upside.

Apply the “penny test” in your course of evaluation.  What is the real cost associated to adding this penny to your jar of other shiny pennies?  Will you spend more in product development, sales and marketing?  Is it technically feasible? How will it change your business model? Is there an impact in supply chain and distribution?  How will customers respond?  Every new penny that you stop to pick up needs thorough testing and vetting with an effective cost-benefit analysis. The amount of work to evaluate the penny is expensive, so not every penny is worthy of your valuable attention.

Be cautious of the allure of the sleek and sparkly new penny. After all, it is just one cent – shiny or not.  If you are always tripping over pennies, you might fail to see the dollars falling from the sky.

“If had a penny for every strange look I’ve gotten from strangers on the street I’d have about 10 to 15 dollars, which is a lot when you’re dealing with pennies.” – Andy Samberg 

Jamie Glass, President and CMO at Artful Thinkers

Be Resolute and Ban Resolutions

Resolute in 2012

Do you remember your declared resolutions of 2011?  Did you succeed in keeping your resolution for the entire year?  If so, congratulations!  The fact remains, if you did keep your resolution for 365 days, you are one of a very small percentage of those that actually set a goal and achieved it.

I typically do not set out the year with a new resolution.  I can only recall setting a goal to read a book a week a few years ago, and yes, I did accomplish my goal.

According to a research study sponsored by the Ford Foundation, 67% of the population has a general idea of what they want; however, they do not have any plans for how to get it.  The same study suggests that only 3% of people say they achieve their goals.

Why compete with a 97% likelihood of failure?  It is not very encouraging, to say the least.  If we do succeed, we can at a minimum say we accomplished something most people will not.  I believe declaring annual resolutions is setting a plan for failure on the first day of a new year.  Our odds of staying “resolved” for the entire year aren’t in our favor.  In fact, they are quite dismal.  Time for a change!

Let’s ban the annual ritual of “resolving” goals.  Instead, we simply need to be more resolute!  Random House Dictionary defines resolute as firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion and characterized by firmness and determination, as the temper,spirit, actions.

In 2012, let’s all be more resolute!  Imagine what we can accomplish. The fact remains we have far greater odds of succeeding in our goals if we put action and determination into our daily purpose.  Temptation to stray from our goals happen when we lose our resoluteness.   We need a “Make it Happen” attitude.  If we lived our lives with such steadfastness, we don’t need resolutions.

We may still fail and fail often; however, by being resolute every day, we have far greater chance at succeeding at something.  Being resolute allows us to look back every day to see what we accomplished.  I suggest that if we are resolute about everything we do, all day and every day, our confidence will soar, and we will do more.

Time to ban resolutions! I did not set a 2012 resolution this New Year.  Instead, I will be resolute. I am certainly determined to do more and be more this next year, and I am resolute to make it so!

Happy New Year