Adversity creates Clarity

Note to future self…

In the past I’ve written about the value of constraints and how friction can improve behavior. Today’s is a different take on a similar idea:

Adversity creates Clarity

What I mean by this is that when you face adverse situations you quickly de-prioritize anything that isn’t mission critical. For example, if you’re a startup that’s going to run out of money in 3 months and you haven’t been able to raise more funding suddenly superfluous issues like what swag should we get for the company, what should be our content strategy, should we do influencer marketing, etc. suddenly disappear. If you’re running out of money you realize that the one thing that matter is getting some revenue so that the company doesn’t die. That’s it. Anything that isn’t in service of that will kill you. A company in this situation has a lot of problems but also a lot of clarity about what has to be done.

This idea can also apply at a personal level. I think that when people face tough circumstances it forces them to focus on one thing. There are several variations of the same idea including:

  1. Constraints breed creativity
  2. Necessity is the mother of invention

I think that these are all underpinned by the same principle. However, I think that the connection between adversity → clarity is a specific instance of a negative condition resulting in a positive outcome.


The takeaway for me is that we need to figure out good ways of creating clarity outside of adverse situations. Having clarity on your personal and professional goals is immensely valuable and high-leverage. That’s it.

Now back to work…