Improving medical students

How to Be Impressive

Posted by medliorator on June 25, 2008

Let’s begin with some examples… that generate the “how did he do that!?” response

  • A college student who setup the U.N.’s first youth advisory council and led the effort to write a youth rights constitution adopted by the Arab League.
  • A high school student who was the president of two student clubs and was a member of the varsity tennis team.

the [first]… might be called [a superstar; the latter] might be stuck with the moniker of “grind,” “hardworking,” or, pronounced, no doubt, with a note of disdain: “ambitious.”  …We know students like this. We feel that, with a high enough tolerance for pain, we too could be that busy. It’s hard work. But it’s not mysterious.

What happens, however, when presented with the story of a student who works with the U.N. and drafted a constitution for the Arab League? Our simulation apparatus fails. We don’t know how, exactly, one becomes a player in major international organizations.  The effect of this failed simulation: a sense of novelty and wonder.

The first [example elicits] great admiration not because they are harder working or more talented than the second… but because we cannot simulate the path they took to their achievements.

I can identify three steps that will help you get to this impressiveness sweet spot:

  1. Enter a Closed World and Exceed Expectations. The first step is to get involved as an insider in a world that interests you …In such entry-level, non-full time situations, the people above you will be pleasantly surprised that you are getting things done. You will soon be rewarded for this.
  2. Package Insider Connections. After you’ve proved yourself in this world, you’ll begin to notice interesting opportunities that only an insider, like yourself, would know about. Look for an opportunity to lead a project that would be available only to someone on the inside. Leverage your insider knowledge to its fullest extent.
  3. Escalate. The solo project from (2) will defeat most people’s simulation apparatus as it was built upon connections available only to insiders. In this final step, leverage this effect, and the good job you did your past project, to shake loose an even more un-simulatable project. Repeat this process a few times, with each iteration ramping up to an even more insider-supported, harder to simulate project.

The Art of Activity Innovation: How to Be Impressive Without an Impressive Amount of Work [Study Hacks]


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