Tourists makes a ceramic pot May 13 during the...

Tourists makes a ceramic pot in South Korea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John C Maxwell, recently shared this story from the book, Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, written by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

A ceramics teacher announced on the first day of school that he was dividing his class into two groups.

All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A,” forty pounds a “B,” and so on.

Those being graded on “quality,” however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A.”

Well, came grading time a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

The message here is a simple one.

To do better work, produce more work.

Don’t focus on perfection, but on continued development and in doing so, you will be able to improve your skills and stand out from the crowd.

What area of your life do you need to be making more mistakes in so that you can keep learning?

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