Quality Or Quantity?

How did you learn to ride a bike? How did you learn to swing the baseball bat?  How did you learn a good tennis swing?  How did you become a black belt?  How did you learn to swim?  How did you learn to sell?  You did it, adjusted accordingly, did more with more mistakes, adjusted again, and kept moving forward.   Quantity precedes quality, rather than the other way around. 

I read in John Maxwell’s fantastic book, Failing Forward, a story that I will significantly paraphrase from memory.  It had something to do with a class experiment involving pottery – not my secret hobby. Actually, I don’t believe I’ve ever made one piece of pottery and only have any clue from the movie Ghost.  Anyway, the class was divided into two groups and each given a separate basis for grading.  The first was told to produce as many bowls as they could, and they would be graded on the sheer volume (in pounds) of completed pieces.  The second group was told to make one exquisite pottery bowl – their grading thus based on quality only.  The next day each class offered their respective results and was graded accordingly. The class was then asked to identify what they believed to be the best quality piece from either of the two groups. Conventional wisdom would suggest this would come from the group whose focus was on quality.  Of course, you’ve guessed that just the opposite was the case.  The group focused on quantity, though having lots of poor quality pieces, did indeed have the best quality piece as well. 

It truly does stand to reason that, through quantitative effort, quality can be produced.  By constantly failing forward – which presumes consistent forward effort – activity allows for mistakes, adjustments and corrective change.  The result – quality!  A big dose of extra credit comes by having someone you trust available to direct, mentor, and coach your efforts in order to minimize the forming of poor habits and to help you adjust what you cannot see. 

Whether you are looking to improve your sales skills, your relationships, your tennis swing, your driving skills, anything – do it often, learn from your mistakes and as Wilbur from Disney’s Meet the Robinson’s says, “Keep moving forward!”