What hampers successful people and companies from automatically becoming very successful? Some companies that were once sought after by hedge fund managers and the pundits at Wall Street have succumbed to failure. Think of technology pioneers like Nokia, Nortel, Blackberry, Barnes & Noble, Honeywell, and so forth. Their spectacular failure brings us to the central tenet of Greg McKeown’s Harvard Business Review article the disciplined pursuit of less (or lack thereof). Greg, a serial author and accomplished speaker, thinks that most successful companies and personalities are susceptible to what he calls the “clarity paradox.”
The Clarity Paradox
The concept assumes that a successful person or business goes through 4 distinct stages: the first phase when one has clarity of his or her purpose, leading to significant success; the second in which success leads to more opportunities and options; the third where increased opportunities and choices lead to diffused efforts; and the last phase whereby scattered efforts hamper the clarity that led to success in the first place. Loosely put, according to Greg Mckeown, success is the catalyst for failure.
What causes the clarity paradox?
According to Jim Collins in his book How the Mighty Fall, the clarity paradox is as a result of what he calls the undisciplined pursuit of more. It’s when you lose focus on the things that really matter – what you are really passionate about, your talents, and your true career path. This way, you can continue on an upward momentum in your career.
Apply more extreme criteria to avoid clarity paradox
According to Greg, applying more extreme criteria can allow us to take advantage of our brain’s sophisticated search engine. It’s only this way that we can explore the right questions: what makes use of my talent most? What am I truly passionate about? How can I change the world? By applying more stringent criteria, we are “looking for our absolute highest point of contribution.” With that in mind, you can then ask “what’s essential?” Conducting a thorough life audit can help you to sift through what’s essential in your life, and eliminate the rest.
Watch Out for “endowment effect.”
The endowment effect entails one’s tendency to value something more when you own it. If you need to have career clarity, you must avoid endowment effect at all cost. You don’t want to place more value on an item that’s not really worthy.
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