Warren Buffett says that if you don’t know who the patsy in the room is, it’s you.
Think about that for a minute.
If you’re the patsy, it’s not because you want to be.
I mean who would want to be the chump.
You’re the patsy because you didn’t know you were and you didn’t know better. You didn’t even know there was a game being played around you.
We see this in financial markets. Small investors thinking they can compete on an even playing field with the whales in the market.
They think all’s going well until….whump…they get swallowed up.
They didn’t even know the edge that the whales had over them. The huge competitive and informational advantage that they had.
These games exist in all spheres of life.
I want to look at the areas where looking good matters. Which is almost every area of life. Think about dating, your career, getting good service in bars and restaurants. As a general rule, the more attractive you are, the better you do in these areas.
Savvy people know this and exploit this to their advantage.
Patsies have no idea about this rule or worse, they do know but choose to do nothing about it.
A natural law.
We like attractive people. We treat them better. We cut them more slack. We think they’re better. We respect them more and take them more seriously.
So imagine you’ve got a date. A first date. You decide to wear some comfy clothes. You might as well be comfortable right? If your date doesn’t like you for you, they’re not worth it, right?
Wrong. So wrong.
All you’ve done is not played the game and so reduced your chances of winning.
What have you lost? You’ve lost the chance of a good first impression and being taken as a contender.
Don’t do this to yourself.
When I was the chump.
I’ve been the chump before and it cost me dearly.
I went for Officer Selection in the British Army after university.
I thought I had it in the bag. After all, I’d graduated from a top university with a good degree. Why wouldn’t I get in.
I wore a suit. Not just any suit, but a badly fitting one. Boxy, black and billowing.
Black shoes that were just awful.
A terrible blue checked tie with a fat Windsor knot.
And an awful skinhead haircut.
I thought I looked good, and anyway, wasn’t that just a superficial detail? My qualifications should have been enough right?
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Looking bad in a profession where looking good is so important didn’t help my cause. I was rejected and told I couldn’t apply again.
I was absolutely devastated.
This was all that I wanted to do for years.
Now it was off the table. I’d lost the opportunity forever.
What had happened?
Looking back on the experience, I was utterly clueless.
I didn’t have the first idea about the value that the British Army places on personal appearance and even if I had done, I’d no idea about what great personal appearance would have looked like.
Who was the patsy?
Why does the Army place such a high value on personal appearance?
Sharply ironed, well-fitting uniforms and highly polished shoes indicates that the wearer has a high degree of self-respect. It also indicates self-discipline because it takes effort to achieve.
High levels of self-respect and self-discipline help make you inspirational to others and this is a core foundation of being a leader in the Armed Forces.
Looking around, it was easy to see who were at the winners and the chumps at that Selection Board.
The winners looked patrician and authoritative in their dark, conservatively cut suits and immaculately polished English shoes.
They knew how Army Officers dress and calibrated accordingly.
They looked like natural leaders.
The chumps, on the other hand, were dressed without any clue of these rules.
Rules that weren’t hidden, but were just unspoken.
Like etiquette at a golf club or a gentlemen’s club, you should just know what the rules are without anyone having to tell you about them.
If you know about them, then great.
If you don’t, then you have an uphill struggle ahead of you.
Play the game.
Accept the natural law above.
Next time you go on a date or an interview, look around and see who the winners are and who the chumps are.
Be the winner, not the chump.
This applies to so many spheres.
Take dating for example. The game being played here are the laws of what makes a man attractive as a mate.
Women are looking for high-quality, high-status males.
If a man has the confidence to dress really well amongst other things, it communicates that the man knows that being attractive is important and that he knows the rules of what makes him attractive.
Give yourself the edge. Don’t be the chump.
Know that there’s always a game being played, in whatever sphere you’re in. Dating, interviews, performance reviews, mortgage applications, getting great service etc.
Play to win and not be a chump.
Know the rules of the game and apply them.
Identify the patsy at the table, so that you know it’s not you.