As another holiday season winds down, this HBR article titled The Disciplined Pursuit of Less definitely caught my eye. To my surprise, this article is actually about life choices and, more specifically, career choices.
In the piece by Greg McKeown, CEO of THIS Inc, McKeown argues that “success is a catalyst for failure.” McKeown goes on to point out why successful people and organizations don’t automatically become very successful in which he identifies 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.
He then goes on to identify three suggestions as to how to avoid the clarity paradox and continue our upward momentum:
- Use more extreme criteria.
- Ask “What is essential?” and eliminate the rest.
- Beware of the endowment effect.