Remember the “Man in the Car Paradox” When You’re About to Make an Expensive Mistake

No one is as impressed with your stuff as you are

Matthew Kent
2 min readJan 18, 2021
Photo by Brandon Atchison on Unsplash

Imagine that (during a time without COVID) you are waiting outside to be seated at a really nice restaurant. As you pass the time, your attention is grabbed by the roar of an engine. You look up and see a beautiful red Ferrari pull up to the valet. Normally you aren’t impressed with cars, but this one is an artful blend of classic design with a modern edge. It’s that perfect hot rod red.

In spite of yourself, you start dreaming about owning such a vehicle.

Surely, if you owned a car like that, you would be the center of attention when you pulled up. Every eye would be on you, and the car would command feelings of respect and admiration. Everyone would know that you are something special.

You might not have spotted the fundamental paradox in that mental image, so let’s call attention to it: I never mentioned (and you never imagined) the driver.

The man in the car probably believes all the same things about the car that you do. That it will confer him respect and admiration, that it will make him effortlessly cool.

But no one cares about the man (or woman) in the car.



Matthew Kent

Done settling for average. Now I have my sights set on awesome 😎 Get “The Ultimate Daily Checklist,” my free ebook on productivity: