Shwachman-Diamond syndrome (SDS) is an inherited bone marrow failure syndrome with predisposition to developing leukemia. We found that multiple independent somatic hematopoietic clones arise early in life, most commonly harboring heterozygous mutations in EIF6 or TP53. EIF6 mutations cause functional compensation for the germline deficiency by alleviating the SDS ribosome joining defect, improving translation, and reducing p53 activation. TP53 mutations decrease checkpoint activation without affecting ribosome assembly. We link development of leukemia with acquisition of biallelic TP53 alterations. Our results define distinct pathways of clonal selection driven by germline fitness constraint and provide a mechanistic framework for clinical surveillance.