The Tyranny of the Shiny

The Evil One

I call my cat the Evil One. He earned this name because of his obsession with shiny things. Just like the dog in the movie “Up” who was distracted by squirrels, the Evil One is unable to ignore things that gleam. This morning he pounced on my chest and bit the chain that hangs around my neck.

I’ve worked with people who were just like that, too. They were attracted to projects, assignments and people that looked shiny, sucked into the assumption that all that glitters is gold. Wanting to be associated with anything that might bring them glory, these people position themselves to be in play whenever a golden opportunity presents itself. In soccer, we call them “cherry pickers,” the lazy offensive players who hover around the opponent’s goal in hopes of securing an easy score. Instead of working for the team, these players want to make a name for themselves.

You see these people in the office all of the time. They never seem to have enough work to do. Why? They keep their loads light in the event that something sexy comes along. When something BIG comes along, they pounce on that opportunity like the Evil One launching himself at a dime that sits on the floor.

What can you do? Do your job. Those who seek the spotlight are often caught with their pants down because they haven’t developed the resilience, competence or networks to do more than posture. You don’t need to wish them to fail. Failure will come to them eventually. Like the tortoise and the hare, the one with the ability to plug faithfully along in big tasks and small ones will win out in the end.

Don’t be sucked in to seeking the spotlight. For years I watched those seekers-of-the-shiny pursue high visibility projects. And fail dramatically. The problem with the spotlight is that it shows every flaw like High Definition on acne scars. Those with talent and skills can hold up under such scrutiny; those with more bravado than competence end up looking foolish.

Do your job. Be faithful in the little things you do each day. Elevate your competence and hone your abilities so when the spotlight finds you, you are ready.

0 Comments Add yours

  1. Kim says:

    Amen brother! How I’ve seen that happen time and again! On the flip side… Sometimes you can want something so bad (a project or assignment) and it doesn’t happen. There’s disappointment and self doubt… And maybe a few tears. But what it teaches you is patience, wisdom, and a better understanding of yourself and your talents and how they should be utilized. The trick is to be patient enough and open enough to learn the lesson…that everything truly DOES happen for a reason!

    1. I heard some great wisdom as I started to grow up in the company. “Climbing the ladder involves stepping up individual rungs along the way, not sticking knives in the backs of others as you climb over them.” That stuck with me. I’m more than happy to move out of the way so others can climb over me…because when they fall, they will not land near me 🙂

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