I’ve eaten pretty much the same thing for 4 years. Every day, it’s a burrito bowl from Chipotle with double chicken for lunch and exactly 10 Buffalo wings for dinner. I exercise three days a week for about 45 minutes, and when I go out: booze = vodka + diet coke. Introducing the Dick Diet™, named after my trainer and nutritionist, Dick Talens.
Before you begin to assume things, let me tell you I’m not a bizarre hermit with 15 cats and a penchant for Mexican food. If everything you do requires making a decision — which is exhausting — it’s more important to me to conserve mental energy by eliminating having to make the same decision of what to eat twice a day. Instead, I can invest that energy into my business, or planning a trip with friends — that’s what matters to me.
My food regimen probably sounds eccentric to most people (although the tech community is full of folks with stranger diets, but that’s sort of the point: what are the weird little idiosyncrasies in your life that you can leverage as strengths? You probably have several.
I’ve always had a preternatural ability for establishing systems and sticking to the initial parameters. And since food ranks fairly low on my totem pole of things I care about, it was easy to implement a simple nutritional system that consistently delivers the fitness results I’m looking for, provided I don’t change the variables. While the lack of meal variety doesn’t really register for me, I know it would be hugely problematic for others. So, the thing that makes it weird is what also makes it a competitive advantage.
You can apply this logic to most things.
“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” President Barack Obama told Vanity Fair in 2012. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Avoiding decision fatigue isn’t a new idea, but it’s only half the strategy. The Dick Diet works because it leverages personality quirks (my dietary apathy and propensity for building systems) to abstract a complex problem (nutrition) and deliver a competitive advantage (I can achieve my fitness goals and invest less energy than other people).
So, take a step back and take stock of the things that make you unique, because our freak superpowers are often rooted in traits we’re conditioned to accept as oddities, or even weaknesses. Whatever your quirk, learn to own it and figure out how to bake it into systems that work just for you. Being different is actually neutral — neither good nor bad but it’s almost always the main ingredient in creating a competitive advantage. So, let your freak flag fly.