The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

I haven’t posted to my blog in quite a while but this article from HBR Blog Network really resonated with me. Through the years, I’ve accumulated a bunch of proverbs, quotes and sayings (along with a ton of useless information now rambling through my brain) that I enjoy spouting off from time to time — “Don’t Let Perfect Be The Enemy of Very Good…”, ‘Don’t Major in Minor Things…” and now “The Clarity Paradox”. The Clarity Paradox can be summed up in four predictable phases:

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.
Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.
Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.
Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, success is a catalyst for failure.

I encourage you to read this brief but important post, but if you’re in a hurry, the author recommends the following suggestions to avoid the clarity paradox and continue your upward momentum:

First, use more extreme criteria.

Second, ask “What is essential?” and eliminate the rest.

Third, beware of the endowment effect. Also known as the divestiture aversion, the endowment effect refers to our tendency to value an item more once we own it.