The Ceramics Class

The Ceramics class

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We all have goals that are important to us. But is it our drive to achieve a certain outcome that makes us better? Or something else entirely?

In the book, “Art & Fear” authors David Bayles and Ted Orland share a surprising story about a ceramics teacher. This story just might reframe the way you think about setting goals, making progress, and becoming better at the things that are important to you.

“The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the 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 pound 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 and a curious fact emerged: the works of 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.”

As the saying goes, Attempt mediocrity, but start. Take the first step, Dare to write one really awful sentence if you have to, It only takes the pressure off. And mediocre might just lead to good, which every now and then might get you to awesome. But if you start by expecting to begin with awesome, you might just sit there instead, waiting for lightning to strike.

The moral has certainly been true with my own work, especially writing and blogging. The frequency of my work — posting my daily morning blog, without worrying about results — has actually lead to better results ( At least that is what I feel). I have also ended up writing 2 books and Iam working on the 3rd one. Quantity does lead to quality.

I feel, It’s not the quest to achieve one perfect goal that makes you better, it’s the skills you develop from doing a volume of work. In other words, when you think about your goals, don’t just consider the outcome you want. Focus on the repetitions that lead to that place. Focus on the piles of work that come before the success. Focus on the hundreds of ceramic pots that come before the masterpiece. Just begin, let the mistakes happen, learn from them and stay blessed forever.