The Relaxed Superstar

Jul 13, 2021

BTB Lax coach Jesse Miller

I regularly write about the different “buckets” that require attention and action to become a better lacrosse player.

One HUGE bucket that rarely gets discussed is studying.

As many of you know, I’m a big Cal Newport fan.

His first books were geared to students wanting to develop better studying habits.

How to Be a High School Superstar will be the focus of my next few articles.  

Early in the book, Cal introduces his term relaxed superstar.

Relaxed Superstars are students who live relaxed and happy high school lives yet still breeze into their reach schools.  

Most high school students are stressed out.  They schedule a million different things, pack their schedule with AP classes, and constantly worry about the college admissions process.

Cal explains that this approach isn’t necessary.  

In fact, it should be avoided at all costs...

Cal’s big idea early in the book is for high school students to become interesting people.

He disdains the word “passion”.

You often hear college counselors advise students to follow their passions.  

Cal’s problem — the word is too vague.  

One definition of “passion” is that you invest a lot of effort over a long period of time in a single activity.

The problem is many students manipulate these activities only to impress college admissions folks.

It’s not genuine.  

The college admissions people can see this.

Cal introduces a more precise term called Interestingness.

Here’s Cal’s Interestingness Hypothesis, Part 1

When admissions officers say they’re looking for students who show “passion,” what they really mean is they’re looking for the type of student who would appeal to an NPR talk show producer.  That is, a student who could sit down and chat about a topic for thirty minutes and hold an educated audience’s rapt attention.

Again… interestingness can’t be faked.

Which brings us to Cal’s second partt:

The Interestingness Hypothesis, Part 2

Interestingess cannot be forced or planned in advance.  It is generated, instead, as a natural by-product of a “deep interest,” which is a long-term pursuit that a student returns to voluntarily and eagerly whenever given a chance.

Most high school kids don’t think they’re interesting.

… and they don’t have many activities that would qualify as a “deep interest”.

Don’t worry.

Cal explains how “the ability to attract deep interests is not necessarily an inborn trait: it can be learned.”

The key is to leave plenty of leisure time in your schedule.

You want to avoid over-scheduling stuff.

So you’ll have to say no to joining five different clubs...

Maybe you only take 2 AP courses instead of 4...

But just because you have free time doesn’t mean you can surf the internet and watch TV.

You need to use this time to expose yourself to different things.

Read books on your own.  

Attend workshops at the local college.  

Go to talks.

After doing this, you need to reflect on what you experienced.

This whole thing becomes a repetitive process.

Do this again and again, and you’ll become an interesting person.

You’ll find something you want to explore more.

So you’re going to combine this approach with specific studying tactics to get better grades and higher test scores.  (I'll explain this more in coming articles!)

Once you do all of this, you’ll develop into a relaxed superstar!