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by Greg McKeown/ Harvard Business Review Blog Why don't successful people and organizations automatically become very successful? One important explanation is due to what I call "the clarity paradox, buy celadrin cod" which can be summed up in four predictable phases: Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, buy celadrin cod it leads to success. Phase 2: When we have success, buy celadrin cod it leads to more options and opportunities. Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, buy celadrin cod it leads to diffused efforts. Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place. Curiously, buy celadrin cod and overstating the point in order to make it, buy celadrin cod success is a catalyst for failure. We can see this in companies that were once darlings of Wall Street, buy celadrin cod but later collapsed. In his book How the Mighty Fall, buy celadrin cod Jim Collins explored this phenomenon and found that one of the key reasons for these failures was that companies fell into "the undisciplined pursuit of more." It is true for companies and it is true for careers. Here's a more personal example: For years, buy celadrin cod Enric Sala was a professor at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, buy celadrin cod California. Buy celadrin cod But he couldn't kick the feeling that the career path he was on was just a close counterfeit for the path he should really be on. Buy celadrin cod So, buy celadrin cod he left academia and went to work for National Geographic. Buy celadrin cod With that success came new and intriguing opportunities in Washington D.C. Buy celadrin cod that again left him feeling he was close to the right career path, buy celadrin cod but not quite there yet. Buy celadrin cod His success had distracted him. After a couple of years, buy celadrin cod he changed gears again in order to be what he really wanted: an explorer-in-residence with National Geographic, buy celadrin cod spending a significant portion of his time diving in the most remote locations, buy celadrin cod using his strengths in science and communications to influence policy on a global scale. Buy celadrin cod (Watch Enric Sala speak about his important work at TED). Buy celadrin cod The price of his dream job was saying no to the many good, buy celadrin cod parallel paths he encountered. What can we do to avoid the clarity paradox and continue our upward momentum? Here are three suggestions: First, buy celadrin cod use more extreme criteria. Think of what happens to our closets when we use the broad criteria: "Is there a chance that I will wear this someday in the future?" The closet becomes cluttered with clothes we rarely wear. Buy celadrin cod If we ask, buy celadrin cod "Do I absolutely love this?" then we will be able to eliminate the clutter and have space for something better. Buy celadrin cod We can do the same with our career choices. By applying tougher criteria we can tap into our brain's sophisticated search engine. Buy celadrin cod If we search for "a good opportunity, buy celadrin cod" then we will find scores of pages for us to think about and work through. Buy celadrin cod Instead, buy celadrin cod we can conduct an advanced search and ask three questions: "What am I deeply passionate about?" and "What taps my talent?" and "What meets a significant need in the world?" Naturally there won't be as many pages to view, buy celadrin cod but that is the point of the exercise. Buy celadrin cod We aren't looking for a plethora of good things to do. Buy celadrin cod We are looking for our absolute highest point of contribution. Enric is one of those relatively rare examples of someone who is doing work that he loves, buy celadrin cod that taps his talent, buy celadrin cod and that serves an important need in the world. Buy celadrin cod His main objective is to help create the equivalent of National Parks to protect the last pristine places in the ocean â€” a significant contribution. Second, buy celadrin cod ask "What is essential?" and eliminate the rest. Buy celadrin cod Everything changes when we give ourselves permission to eliminate the nonessentials. Buy celadrin cod At once, buy celadrin cod we have the key to unlock the next level of our lives. Buy celadrin cod Get started by: Conducting a life audit. All human systems tilt towards messiness. In the same way that our desks get cluttered without us ever trying to make them cluttered, buy celadrin cod so our lives get cluttered as well-intended ideas from the past pile up. Most of these efforts didn't come with an expiration date. Once adopted, buy celadrin cod they live on in perpetuity. Figure out which ideas from the past are important and pursue those. Throw out the rest. Eliminating an old activity before you add a new one. This simple rule ensures that you don't add an activity that is less valuable than something you are already doing. Third, buy celadrin cod beware of the endowment effect. Also known as the divestiture aversion, buy celadrin cod the endowment effect refers to our tendency to value an item more once we own it. One particularly interesting study was conducted by Kahneman, buy celadrin cod Knetsch and Thaler (published here) where consumption objects (e.g. Buy celadrin cod coffee mugs) were randomly given to half the subjects in an experiment, buy celadrin cod while the other half were given pens of equal value. According to traditional economic theory (the Coase Theorem), buy celadrin cod about half of the people with mugs and half of the people with pens will trade. But they found that significantly fewer than this actually traded. The mere fact of ownership made them less willing to part with their own objects. As a simple illustration in your own life, buy celadrin cod think of how a book on your shelf that you haven't used in years seems to increase in value the moment you think about giving it away. Tom Stafford describes a cure for this that we can apply to career clarity: Instead of asking, buy celadrin cod "How much do I value this item?" we should ask "If I did not own this item, buy celadrin cod how much would I pay to obtain it?" And the same goes for career opportunities. We shouldn't ask, buy celadrin cod "How much do I value this opportunity?" but "If I did not have this opportunity, buy celadrin cod how much would I be willing to sacrifice in order to obtain it?" If success is a catalyst for failure because it leads to the "undisciplined pursuit of more, buy celadrin cod" then one simple antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less. Not just haphazardly saying no, buy celadrin cod but purposefully, buy celadrin cod deliberately, buy celadrin cod and strategically eliminating the nonessentials. Not just once a year as part of a planning meeting, buy celadrin cod but constantly reducing, buy celadrin cod focusing and simplifying. Not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, buy celadrin cod but being willing to cut out really terrific opportunities as well. Few appear to have the courage to live this principle, buy celadrin cod which may be why it differentiates successful people and organizations from the very successful ones. GREG MCKEOWN Greg McKeown is the CEO of THIS Inc., buy celadrin cod a leadership and strategy design agency headquartered in Silicon Valley. Buy celadrin cod He was recently named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Buy celadrin cod Greg did his graduate work at Stanford. Buy celadrin cod Connect with him on Twitter @GregoryMcKeown.