I recently came across the clarity paradox, which tries to explain why successful people and organizations don’t automatically become very successful.
Greg McKeown author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less explains the the clarity paradox in 4 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.
Now this doesn’t sit well with me and I would assume with most people. How can success be a catalyst for failure? Well, it comes down to the pursuit of more. The undisciplined pursuit of more, more at all costs, more beggets more. So we find ourselves running around trying to achieve more, we land up doing more to have more and be more. The pursuit of more is not a bad thing, provided we know when MORE becomes ENOUGH.
If we are constantly trying to achieve more, our attention spreads thin. We have more of a spray and pray approach to the things we are doing in life, and ultimately this leads to more failures than successes.
In order to avoid the Clarity Paradox taking hold of your life, one needs to identify ENOUGH. What is it that will make me sit back and think to myself I have my all. It could be a number financially, an income or a lump sum, it could be a position in your career, it could be material things, it could be spiritual things. Whatever it is, we need to identify it. By knowing how much is enough you are able to pursue MORE, and you are able to channel everything you do on the backdrop of achieving ENOUGH. You automatically become focused and adopt the approach, that if this particular thing that I am doing is not helping me achieve my ENOUGH, I don’t do it. Sounds pretty simplistic, but the real work comes in identifying your ENOUGH.
Your ENOUGH needs to be all encompassing, it needs to cover your personal life, your family life, your career, your income and your end game, you can’t leave anything to chance and you need to share this with those it affects, your spouse, your partner, your children, whomever needs to be aware of it MUST be. Ideally you want everyone involved working towards the same goals, you want everyone on the same page. All decisions made should not be done haphazardly, they should align with your ENOUGH, it helps provide clarity, and reasoning. This will reduce anxiety and uncertainty, it will give meaning to actions taken, whether they be investment decisions or career decisions, they will have meaning and purpose behind them.
I would sum up the Clarity paradox, by saying, in the pursuit of more, make sure you keep focused on what you want out at the end, remain focused, and only do those things which enable your success. Success may bring with it other opportunities for other successes, but are those successes aligned to your initial success. Keep on track and remember where, why and what you are trying to achieve more for in the first place.