“Flavour of the month”

3 mins

What’s hip? What’s happening? It’s ta-da… flavour of the month. And this is why you should ignore it.

“Flavour of the month” is a term that lawyers used to bandy around in 2013 quite a lot more than they now do. It stands for any current trends, the ever transient and never-ceasing moments in time.

Buzzwords like “innovation”, “machine learning” and “AI” are current flavours of the month. The word “innovation” for one has been really milked by PR people for what it’s worth since circa 2016. On my last observation, we use these words arbitrarily. So much so that we’ve sucked all reasonable meaning out of them.

Law firms for one, love the word “innovation”. It started off as brilliant marketing. Now, it’s dampened by the fact that every other competitor and client use the same buzzword.

“Geez Louise! We can’t all be innovative!”

The next time someone declares that they are “innovative”—you should ask for a definition. I suspect that the answer you get will deviate quite greatly from the next.

Just like Midas’ golden touch, you should be careful of what you wish for. Flavour of the month is fast becoming flavour of the week or even flavour of the day. It depends on what social media platform you use or what the internet dictates. Lawyers, ever the competitive Type-A personalities, buy into flavour of the month/week/day. The problem? We often lack the requisite deep understanding.

Learn to be selective

To be fair, everyone else is susceptible to the flavour of the month bug.

In the past year alone, how many of you heard, considered or heeded advice about learning how to program? “Learn to program, because it’s the skill of the future” and “you don’t want to get left behind”.

I for one, will leave programming to the experts. Fifteen years ago, I picked up a C++ programming textbook for my part-time work at the Swinburne Astrophysics Department. I can say with certainty that I was horrible at it. Debugging scripts wasn’t exactly the best part of my day. It was like getting all my teeth pulled out. If there is a purgatory in the next life, it might involve debugging a million lines of bad script.

All this made me realise that unless you do something day in, day out, live and breathe it—we can only expect to achieve a superficial understanding.

I’m not proposing that we all behave like Luddites or ignore the realities of our current state. There is a clear benefit to knowing more than less. However, we should also understand that there is an opportunity cost for everything that we do, and do WELL. Somehow, we’ve decided to shelve that reality to take FOMO (fear of missing out) to a whole new level.

As a consequence, society is constantly lurching from one faddish thing to the next. All because other parts of society tell them it is cool and valuable.

Money, money, money

A big part of why society tells you things are cool is because of one thing. Money.

From a consumer perspective, there are two reasons that we hand our money over: (1) fear; and (2) needs / wants. Marketers know this and are ever keen to capitalise on it. If you can think of another reason, I’d be keen to hear it.

A lot of the lurching around with flavour(s) of the month relate to the first limb—the fear of becoming irrelevant. The irony is that a failure to focus on one thing and persist through will more likely make us irrelevant.

Ignore that FOMO

So where does that leave us on a personal level?

Stand your ground and focus on your strengths. Understand your weaknesses. Persist in your knowledge, keep building on what you’re actually interested in and don’t be swayed by the trends.

Those trends are here today, gone tomorrow.

What are your strengths that are going to stand the test of time?

Image credit // Sharon McCutcheon