Performance versus Appearance

, , No Comments
In the book Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston, the part that had the biggest impact on me is in the foreword by Paul Graham, where he said: 

"... I think there's a general principle at work here: the less energy people expend on performance, the more they expend on appearances to compensate. More often than not, the energy they expend on seeming impressive makes their actual performance worse. A few years ago I read an article in which a car magazine modified the 'sports' model of some production car to get the fastest possible standing quarter mile [speed]. You know how they did it? They cut off all the crap the manufacturer had bolted onto the car to make it look fast."


Even growing up has children, the brainiest at school work is often the least presentable kid. And the coolest are often the dumbest, academically. Then we moved on to the corporate world; doctors, professors and engineers don't make the celebrities list. Comedians have the best (appearing) business cards. 

People whose jobs require more of brain power end up sacrificing a lot on the appearance side. They become like that stripped sports car. Optimized for performance rather than sleek appearance. While people whose paychecks depend on how good they look and how smooth they talk end up giving up a lot in the hard skills section. It's almost always performance versus appearance rather than performance and appearance. A huge improvement in one is always at the cost of the other.

So which should you go for? Performance or appearance?
Here are some quick rules to help you make the right choice.

  1. Like they say: you can't be poor and ugly; pick a struggle. If you'll need surgical help to advance well in the appearance industry, then stick to performance. Be crazy good at whatever you have an edge in. Be so good that people will pay you so well that when you clock 80 a 20 year old girl will want you as her life partner.
  2. If you find hard work too hard for your delicate self. And your beauty opens more doors than your brain at a ratio of 9 to 1. Please pick appearance over performance. Stick to what you are good at.
  3. If you've got both, which is same as being plain. When you are looking your best, the clothes get more compliments than you. And your major talent is being able to work hard. I'm sorry you don't have the luxury of making a choice. You will have to try everything.
  4. If you've got none. You need to stand up to whoever is making you feel that way. There is no one who hasn't got some beauty and/or brain. You need to get your self-confidence back. Then go figure out where you fit in the three options above.
Finally, don't bother asking me where I fit. Not because I won't tell you but because it doesn't matter. All that matters is that I'm trying to join the group 2 guys. There's nothing like the easy life.


Post a Comment

You can be sure of a response, a very relevant one too!

Click on Subscribe by Email just down below the comment box so you'll be notified of my response.