Steve and David
Let’s try a simple experiment. Imagine that you’re an admissions officer at a competitive college, and you’re evaluating the following two applicants:
- David — He is captain of the track team and took Japanese calligraphy lessons throughout high school; he wrote his application essay on the challenge of leading the track team to the division championship meet.
- Steve — He does marketing for a sustainability-focused NGO; he wrote his application essay about lobbying delegates at the UN climate change conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Who impresses you more?
For most people, there’s little debate: Steve is the star.
But here’s the crucial follow-up question: Why is Steve more impressive than David?
The answer seems obvious, but as you’ll soon discover, the closer you look, the more hazy it becomes. To really understand Steve’s appeal, we will delve into the recesses of human psychology and discover a subtle but devastatingly power effect that will change your understanding of what it takes to stand out.
The Failed Simulation Effect
Accomplishments that are hard to explain can be much more impressive than accomplishments that are simply hard to do.
- Cal Newport