How Mark Zuckerberg's Monochromatic Wardrobe Helps His Success


Facebook Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg has been pretty candid when it comes to sharing the goings-on in his life and that did not change when he posted a photo of his incredibly monochromatic and staple wardrobe on Jan. 25, as he wondered what to wear to his office on his first day back from paternity leave.

Of course, he received some humorous comments: some jokingly called him indecisive in the face of a closet-full of similar gray shirts, while other users called Zuckerberg's wardrobe "50 Shades of Grey," in reference to the erotic novel. Not surprisingly, having a monochromatic wardrobe is apparently a habit successful people have. This doesn't entail owning just gray shirts and hoodies, rather simplifying life by wearing the same style of clothing every day.

The idea may sound weird especially for those who love dressing up and following fashion trends. One might even think that having to wear the same thing every single day isn't the best strategy to create a strong impression and be taken seriously. However, Florida State University social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister thinks otherwise.

Decision Fatigue

The science behind the relationship between success and wearing the same outfit has to do with what Baumeister calls "decision fatigue" and it argues that our powers of decision-making is finite and that, the more decisions we have to make throughout the day, the more prone we are to making bad ones.

"The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences... The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing," Baumeister explained.

"Apparently ego depletion causes activity to rise in some parts of the brain and to decline in others... [the brain] stops doing some things and starts doing others. It responds more strongly to immediate rewards and pays less attention to long-term prospects," he added.

Since we have to decide on what to wear at the start of every work day, it only makes sense that making that decision shaves off a chunk of our finite decision-making energy. What successful people do is to stick to a personal "uniform" and get that decision out of the way because, if they don't have to think about what to wear, they have more energy left to decide on other more important things like what action to take when an unforeseen issue arises in the company.

Personal "Uniform" In Action

Even President Barack Obama adheres to the effectiveness of taking out the need to make minor decisions in favor of more important ones. He muses at how First Lady Michelle Obama finds how funny it is that he has become routinized since taking on the presidency. Obama, however, argues that it was a necessary move.

"You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits... I'm trying to pare down decisions... Because I have too many other decisions to make... You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can't be going through the day distracted by trivia," he said.

There's also Steve Jobs who preferred wearing his black turtleneck shirts instead of fancy suits that would command that CEO look. There's no denying that he made some pretty good decisions during his time as Apple's CEO and now we know that it's because he didn't spend time worrying over what to wear.

Of course, that's not to say we should just forget about being stylish. To follow the minimalist ways of the world's greatest leaders, there's always the choice of having a staple outfit which you can just accessorize - just don't spend too much time deciding on a single accessory.

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