Quantity vs. Quality
We learn more through action than we do from thought.
I’m reading a book called Black Box Thinking by Mathew Syed. In this book, the author describes a very interesting experiment done by a ceramics teacher that I think we can all learn from. I certainly did.
The ceramics teacher split the class in half and told one group they would be graded on the quality of their work, and the other half they would be graded on the quantity of their work.
For the quantity half of the class, 50 pounds of pottery equaled an A, 40 pounds of pottery earned a B, 30 pounds a C and so on.
The other group was told they would be graded on the quality of one piece.
Who do you think produced a better piece? Popular belief would tell us that the quality group should have produced the highest quality piece, right? I mean, their grade was based on quality!
Well, what ended up happening was the students who were assigned to do quantity of work actually produced much higher quality of work, than the group focused on quality.
This seems somewhat counterintuitive right?
What this shows us is that certain times, not always, but certain times, just taking action is how we can produce better results.
The quality group spent a lot of time in the planning phase, and they were so focused on perfectionism, that they didn’t take enough action. They didn’t learn or grow or use trial and error. The got hung up on all the details.
The quantity students immediately got to work, and by doing so they got better with each pot. In the end, because of their action, the quality of their work ended up being better.
Sometimes we get stuck in our own head. A common term used to describe this is paralysis by analysis. Basically, this means we just overthink something, and we overthink it to the point that we never even end up starting it.
The author Mathew Syed is quoted in the book saying “You are so worried about messing up that you never even get on the field of play.” I Love that quote!
It doesn’t make any sense to think about and visualize lap 54, or what you are going to do on the victory lap if you never even start the race.
I’m a big fan of visualization. I love visualizing, but visualizing doesn’t mean anything if you don’t take action.
What is one thing in your life that you have been thinking about forever? One thing that you have put a lot of thought into, but haven’t ever started? Or what is something that you have started, but then got hung up on trying to make it perfect?
The point is to start taking action. Start getting in those reps, getting in those hours, just start.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucius
Make it an awesome day,
Sources: Black Box Thinking by Mathew Syed. You can find more information about this book in the Book Recommendations tab.
10 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self
Here are the 10 things I would tell my younger self after I gave myself a big hug and admired how much hair I had 🙂
- Don’t imprison your dreams.
Never let the opinion of someone else trump the opinion you have of yourself or your dreams. Anything in this world is possible. The people that don’t believe that anything is possible are the ones blinded by fear. Never, ever give up on your dreams. Your dreams are your unique gift to the world, don’t imprison them inside you. Share them with the world and live every day in pursuit of them. Never ask yourself, if you can do it, instead ask yourself how you can do it. Big difference.
- It’s not about what you become, it’s about who you become.
So much emphasis is put on what we want to become when the real emphasis should be on who we want to become. A huge bankroll or a corporate title doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t align with the values you have. Never trade your values for money. Your values will be tested often in your life. Think clearly about your values so when they are tested, they are sturdy and strong. Go after your dreams and challenge yourself to achieve more, but don’t do so if it means sacrificing who you are.
- Knowledge is not power.
Contrary to what many believe, knowledge is not power. Knowledge combined with action is where you find power. The difference between achievement and mediocrity is the ability to take action. Information is more readily available than ever before. It’s not what you know, it’s what you do that really matters.
- It is ok to be different.
Human beings are social animals. Social acceptance is important, but don’t be afraid to be who you truly are inside. Not everyone is going to accept you no matter what path you take, so take the one that is aligned with your heart. Looking a certain way, or acting a certain way that isn’t aligned with how you feel inside, will result in unhappiness and bottled up feelings. Be who you are without concern over what others think. Which leads to #5.
- Don’t care so much about what people think
People that claim they don’t care at all about what others think are either being untruthful or they are Tibetan monks. It’s human nature to care about what others think. No one can completely eliminate those feelings, but we can try and reduce them. Remember this, people tend to reflect their own insecurities on others. Most people don’t even have a favorable opinion of themselves, so why should we care about their opinion of us? Don’t give someone the power to dominate your thoughts and feelings.
- Say “Yes” more often.
There will inevitably be a time in your life when your plate of life becomes full. When that happens you will need to strategize on ways to say “no” more often. But until that time comes, responsibly experience everything you can. Say yes to things even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. Take risks, stretch yourself, and say yes to as many things as possible. Random experiences can often lead to some of the most memorable moments of our lives. This aligns well with #7.
- You will regret what you didn’t do, not what you did do.
Don’t stand on the sidelines of life. Get in there, make mistakes, and learn from everything. Your only real regrets in life will come from things you didn’t do. Write that book, sing in public, dance at that wedding, start that business, grow that beard, ask that girl out on a date, go skydiving, whatever. Experience as much as possible.
- Say what you feel.
Don’t become the person who weighs people down with your problems or one that is brutally honest without empathy, but do have the courage to tell somebody how you feel. So many times in life we harbor negative feelings and then randomly the lid pops off and relationships are ruined. If somebody does something that you don’t like, let them know. You will be surprised how many times the person doesn’t realize that what they were doing or saying was impacting you. On the reverse side, if somebody is making you feel good, tell them. Also, express your love often to others, whether it be parents, friends, or relationships. Life is too short. Nothing bad ever comes from telling someone you love them.
- Be physically and spiritually healthy
Take care of yourself. Battling poor health all day takes precious energy away from our ability to contribute to the world. Develop healthy habits now, so that you don’t have to fight that battle. You only get one body in this life, take care of it. Focus on your spiritual health also. Connect to whatever you consider meaningful and holy. Whether that is God, nature, or formal religion, connecting to a force greater than yourself will help you in so many ways as you navigate through this crazy life.
- Love. Grow. Give
Love is the most powerful emotion in our human experience. To have a life of fulfillment you must have love in your heart. Love fully and deeply. This doesn’t mean you have to be in love (although that sure is nice), but you need to have love in your life. Loving deeply starts with loving yourself first. Find the balance between expecting yourself to do great things, yet not being too hard on yourself. Be an advocate for you. Love yourself, and love others without fear. Love yourself first, so that you can give that love to as many people as possible.
Grow every day. It’s you vs. you. Remember that. The goal is to be better than yesterday. There will always be someone smarter, faster, stronger, (fill in the blank) than you. It’s not about being the best in comparisons, it’s about being the best YOU that you can be. Never stop learning. Life is always in motion. You are either moving towards your potential, or away from it. Move forward and focus on growing and getting better in some way every day.
Give everything you can to others. Use all the love and growth that you have and share it with as many people as possible. In order to make a difference in this world you must give to others. Give love, kindness, joy, optimism, wisdom, empathy, compassion, or anything you can, back to others. You must impact the lives of others to have lasting fulfillment.
Love deeply. Grow every day. Give to others.
Action steps: Write a similar list for your life. I shortened mine for this blog, but your list can be as comprehensive as you can make it. What would you say to your younger self? It’s a great exercise in the spirit of growing every day. Self-discovery is a tremendous source of growth.
Of course, you can’t travel back in time, so I want you to remember one of my favorite Chinese proverbs.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
It is never too late to start becoming the best version of you.
Make it a great day,
Share some of your thoughts below and remember to share this link with others.
Winning the day
I love this concept of winning the day.
In sports we generally reference that players have an in-season and an off-season. In-season is when games are being played, and the off-season is when games aren’t being played.
For the 99.9% of us that aren’t professional athletes, we need to remind ourselves that there is no off-season.
The moment you wake up in the morning you are metaphorically stepping on to the field. The first quarter begins when you wake up and the game ends when you go to sleep. Every. Single. Day.
Are you approaching each day as if you are in-season?
Do you approach each day as an opportunity to win the day?
It’s time to get off the sidelines, and get in the game.
When I talk about winning the day, or getting in the game, I want to be clear that I’m not talking about joining the rat race or competing against everyone to reach the top of the metaphoric mountain. I’m talking about making sure that whatever path you choose to take in life, you approach each day as an opportunity to move forward on that path. Your path could be to climb the corporate ladder, or your path could be to stop climbing the corporate ladder and start climbing your own spiritual ladder. Your path could be one of creating profound joy internally regardless of outer circumstances, or your path could be to slow down and be as mindful as possible.
Whatever it may be for you, the point is, are you moving forward?
Our thoughts and actions can easily become so distracted that we end up having days go by seemingly on auto-pilot.
Living life with intention takes you out of auto-pilot, and the best way to make sure you are living with intention is to have a clear picture of the direction you are heading in your life.
Do you have a clear picture of what a winning day looks like?
View your life as if you are in-season. Clearly identify what a winning day looks like, then go out there and win! Every. Single. Day.
Make today a winning day,