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Why you should wear the same shirt every day

Why you should wear the same shirt every day

July 08, 2016

Why does Mark Zuckeberg always wear a grey shirt and mine are always white?

https://ci4.googleusercontent.com/proxy/NYX8ZxwS0GLmtgI35hba0xSz8ytyOyR3TiFh06N8v23on7TZsY6hX-tkvdglc2Xs_4x3ih23NO8uuwA_j6jOYqrlsSQ7l8QMji27OAs5ZblGdL6DGmOTrrjVK1p8eS4u_AaD2sgr9oBG8WveRayL=s0-d-e1-ft#https://d1yoaun8syyxxt.cloudfront.net/brandlaunch-60f8aed7-f254-4ed8-b6c5-165c9df35965-v2Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wears the same gray t-shirt every day. Sometimes a hoodie on top of it, but that too is always gray and always the same one.

Do you know what I wear just about every single day?

A white dress shirt and dark pants. Hang in there, I’ll tell you why.

https://ci5.googleusercontent.com/proxy/UWeyJq3d7nuypVsd5TOTbkWG1oZBu8-HizKS84SzUuoeo91jFzA3sp9yuz0jFA984uHyL5WTe7KIcAAYQku_fF39M5FGXnZ1JGy7jrDhPUPSyhMe9H-6s3bBG86FcKIJP3ST3BKGJ_Z7MNC5w84w=s0-d-e1-ft#https://d1yoaun8syyxxt.cloudfront.net/brandlaunch-05210d1d-a3d9-4d2b-a80b-8f80ba6ae106-v2I know why I wear a white shirt but why does he always wear a grey shirt? For the same reason that President Obama only wears blue or gray suits, and Steve Jobs had his signature jeans-and-black-turtleneck look.

Even fashion house Chanel’s Creative Director Karl Lagerfield wears the same thing every day - black suit, white shirt, black tie.

They aren’t alone - many very successful, very entrepreneurial, very famous, very driven people wear the same thing day in and day out.

You’ll care why this makes a difference for you and your business - just bear with me a few more paragraphs!

If you had to guess, you would probably say it has something to do with branding, wouldn’t you? It’s a sensible guess.

And yet it has nothing to do with branding. Instead, it’s about willpower and decision making.

A few years ago, Jonathan Levav of Stanford and Shai Danziger of Ben-Gurion University followed eight Israeli parole board judges around to see how they made their decisions.

And their results shocked the legal community when they said… wait for it…

Israeli parole board judges weren’t actually making their decisions based on sound legal reasoning - there was a hidden, really problematic influence that swayed all of their decisions.

It was the time of day since their last sandwich or break!

Their results showed that cases heard first thing in the morning were approved 65% of the time, but by late morning cases were almost exclusively denied. In the afternoon, cases heard early - just after the judges’ had a sandwich or lunch break - were approved the majority of the time again. But the approval rate once again plummeted to almost zero by late afternoon. That’s highly disturbing... but fascinating.



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Because it turns out that our willpower muscle, our ability to control our decision making is a finite resource - and like any other muscle in our body it gets fatigued with use! In the early part of the day they were in their “High Willpower Zone”. They hadn’t had to make too many decisions yet.  They were still clear, hopeful, and optimistic.

But as time went on they had to make lots of decisions. It’s called “Ego Depletion” and threw them into their “Low Willpower Zone”.

Simple decision exhaustion!

Even when Levav and Danziger controlled for major indicators of an approval or denial - things like type of crime (rape vs. auto theft), Arab or Israeli, Christian or Muslim, younger or older etc. - the pattern was still there.

When all else was the same…

When a prisoner had the misfortune of being scheduled late morning or afternoon the odds were stacked against them.

Why does it matter to you and your business what Mark Zuckerberg wears or whether or not Israeli inmates get parole?

Because there’s a pretty big lesson in here for all of us.

Our willpower, our ability to make decisions,

gets fatigued when we use it.

Just like any other muscle, our willpower gets worn down. Once worn down, your ability to persevere or make good choices is shot.

Check yourself. Are you making decisions at the wrong “time” or the right time?


What if your sales manager approaches you at 4pm with ideas on targeting a new market for your product?

You are likely going to simply say ‘no’ because it’s easier to maintain the status quo than make a change.  Better practice: Check in with yourself and see if you are in your "High or Low Willpower Zone". If you're in a "Low Willpower Zone", and the decision isn't urgent - reschedule the decision-making.


Get our "7-Minute Guide to Growing Willpower" and learn the

7 best strategies to increase your "Willpower Zones".


What happens when you schedule ideas for safety improvement at the end of a two-hour safety meeting?

After two hours of making multiple decisions, you're in a "Low Willpower Zone" and aren't as receptive to new ideas. Better practice: Schedule big decisions for the beginning of a meeting, or take a short break just before them.

To be a successful leader you must make a lot of decisions. You also need to have the willpower to focus on the things that are "Important Not Urgent". Successful leaders practice building their willpower muscles with small acts of "Grit" - like keeping a jar of jelly beans they don't allow themselves to eat from on their desk.

But the best leaders learn to manage their activities and eliminate unnecessary decisions from their life to protect their energy for the big battles. You can't always plan your decision-making, but you can stack the odds in your favor. Pre-planning your day will make a huge difference!

Once you know how to work your "Willpower Zone", you'll be able to focus on the one thing that will grow your business even though it's hard. You'll sell more, influence your team to cooperate more, perform better, lose weight and even get your significant other to agree with you more.


Thriving entrepreneurs respect and strengthen their willpower

and become better decision makers in simple ways...


So why do Goldman and Zuckerberg wear the same thing every day? We don’t want to deplete our willpower on little decisions so that we have the willpower we need for the most important decisions of the day.

Although you may not need to wear the same thing every day - you do need to grow your willpower!

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,

Jon Goldman


Get our “7-Minute Guide to Growing Willpower”