Have you ever noticed that some of the most successful people wear the same outfit every day?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg rocks a gray t-shirt most of the time. United States President Barack Obama usually sticks to blue or gray suits. Apple founder Steve Jobs always sported his famous black turtleneck.
Are wildly successful people boring, or is there some method to their madness?
Steve Jobs claimed that he stuck to the black turtleneck because it was convenient and it presented a signature style. For the man behind Apple’s iconic image, the need to create a signature style, or “personal brand” as some people would call it, makes sense.
What about Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama, though? Gray t-shirts and blue/gray suits are not different enough to create a “signature style”. Every college student owns at least one gray t-shirt and every businessman wears blue and gray suits.
The answer lies in a psychological principle called decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue refers to the decline in the quality of the decisions that an individual makes as that individual makes an increasing number of decisions in a period of time.
For example, a study showed that court judges are more lenient in the morning than they are in the afternoon. This is because by the afternoon, their minds have been worn down by all the decisions that they already had to make earlier in the day.
Successful individuals running companies and countries, like Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama, have to make numerous important decisions every day. Eliminating little decisions like what to wear can, theoretically, leave more brain power for the decisions that matter later in the day.
Both Zuckerberg and Obama have more or less confirmed that this is the reason why they usually wear the same outfit.
Mark Zuckerberg explained to his employees that he wears the same style of clothes every day because he’s busy and it gives him less to think about in the morning.
Barack Obama told America’s Vanity Fair magazine: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Does this mean that you should throw out everything except your plain white t-shirts?
People like Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama are able to pull off wearing the same thing every day because they are influential. Chances are that if you try this, people will start to think that you are a bit weird.
What you can take from this is that the little decisions do not matter.
When you get dressed in the morning, put on the first outfit that you see. Do not stress over how you look. In all reality, no one is really going to notice any way.