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, discount hydrea" which can be summed up in four predictable phases: Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, discount hydrea it leads to success. Phase 2: When we have success, discount hydrea it leads to more options and opportunities. Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, discount hydrea it leads to diffused efforts. Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place. Curiously, discount hydrea and overstating the point in order to make it, discount hydrea success is a catalyst for failure. We can see this in companies that were once darlings of Wall Street, discount hydrea but later collapsed. In his book How the Mighty Fall, discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea Enric Sala was a professor at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, discount hydrea California. Discount hydrea 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. Discount hydrea So, discount hydrea he left academia and went to work for National Geographic. Discount hydrea With that success came new and intriguing opportunities in Washington D.C. Discount hydrea that again left him feeling he was close to the right career path, discount hydrea but not quite there yet. Discount hydrea His success had distracted him. After a couple of years, discount hydrea he changed gears again in order to be what he really wanted: an explorer-in-residence with National Geographic, discount hydrea spending a significant portion of his time diving in the most remote locations, discount hydrea using his strengths in science and communications to influence policy on a global scale. Discount hydrea (Watch Enric Sala speak about his important work at TED). Discount hydrea The price of his dream job was saying no to the many good, discount hydrea parallel paths he encountered. What can we do to avoid the clarity paradox and continue our upward momentum? Here are three suggestions: First, discount hydrea 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. Discount hydrea If we ask, discount hydrea "Do I absolutely love this?" then we will be able to eliminate the clutter and have space for something better. Discount hydrea We can do the same with our career choices. By applying tougher criteria we can tap into our brain's sophisticated search engine. Discount hydrea If we search for "a good opportunity, discount hydrea" then we will find scores of pages for us to think about and work through. Discount hydrea Instead, discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea but that is the point of the exercise. Discount hydrea We aren't looking for a plethora of good things to do. Discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea that taps his talent, discount hydrea and that serves an important need in the world. Discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea ask "What is essential?" and eliminate the rest. Discount hydrea Everything changes when we give ourselves permission to eliminate the nonessentials. Discount hydrea At once, discount hydrea we have the key to unlock the next level of our lives. Discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea beware of the endowment effect. Also known as the divestiture aversion, discount hydrea the endowment effect refers to our tendency to value an item more once we own it. One particularly interesting study was conducted by Kahneman, discount hydrea Knetsch and Thaler (published here) where consumption objects (e.g. Discount hydrea coffee mugs) were randomly given to half the subjects in an experiment, discount hydrea while the other half were given pens of equal value. According to traditional economic theory (the Coase Theorem), discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea "How much do I value this item?" we should ask "If I did not own this item, discount hydrea how much would I pay to obtain it?" And the same goes for career opportunities. We shouldn't ask, discount hydrea "How much do I value this opportunity?" but "If I did not have this opportunity, discount hydrea 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, discount hydrea" then one simple antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less. Not just haphazardly saying no, discount hydrea but purposefully, discount hydrea deliberately, discount hydrea and strategically eliminating the nonessentials. Not just once a year as part of a planning meeting, discount hydrea but constantly reducing, discount hydrea focusing and simplifying. Not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, discount hydrea but being willing to cut out really terrific opportunities as well. Few appear to have the courage to live this principle, discount hydrea 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., discount hydrea a leadership and strategy design agency headquartered in Silicon Valley. Discount hydrea He was recently named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Discount hydrea Greg did his graduate work at Stanford. Discount hydrea Connect with him on Twitter @GregoryMcKeown.