Following the red balloon is one of the most dangerous things a founder can do. Red balloons are bright, moving and attractive. At first, the red balloon simply captures your attention. However, as you look and reflect, it will trigger curiosity and wonderment. You start to think and dream. Your mind wanders and you forget what you were doing. You stare intently at the red balloon. It’s fascinating and alluring. For some reason, they are just fun to have.
Some red balloons are good. They are valuable to create new ideas and curiosity. However, others can be like new fads, trends, and ideas that pop up in business. They seem like unique and colorful opportunities. While red balloons can be fun and are at times appropriate, they also can distract a founder from their vision, mission, and focus.
Leaders already have questions and doubts when they are starting or leading a business. Red balloons add to them. They cause distracting questions: “What are other people doing? What should I be doing? Am I keeping up? Am I in-line with the trends for today? What are others doing? How could I be doing this better? Is there another way that is more popular?”
While every leader must keep themselves fresh and up to date in thoughts and ideas, often the red balloon is a way we get distracted by the market activity or distract ourselves by things others are doing. The unfortunate impact is that we forget what we are doing, why we are doing it and start chasing red balloons rather than staying focused on the mission we were creating.
What are the red balloons in your world? What distracts you?
What creates curiosity and attraction that takes you away from what you should be working on?
How do you tell the difference between a good red balloon (new ideas that are worthy of attention) and a distracting red balloon (those that take our time, energy, and attention)?
How do you make space to watch good red balloons and how do you ensure you are not distracting yourself with red balloons that are not serving you?