Formula for Mastering Something New


Maybe you've heard the modern parable about the pottery teacher from David Bayles and Ted Orland's book Art & Fear. The wise teacher divided his class into two groups and assigned them their missions for the semester: one group would be graded on the quantity of ceramic pots they produced (as determined by weight), while the other group was tasked with creating just one, perfect pot.


The surprise twist comes at the end of the semester: all of the most magnificent pots have been produced not by the students focused on perfection, but by the group tasked with churning out great quantities of product. Through practice, the students who focused on quantity made mistakes, and learned better technique as a result. The group that obsessed over a single pot did not experience the variety of mistakes and adjustments necessary to improve their art.


When it comes to mastering a new venture, the quantity of the work we produce is more important than the quality of each individual piece. When we strive for perfection, we become paralyzed and stuck. With practice and experimentation and repetition and failure and adjustment, we grow.


Try to create just a little something today, maybe just a word or a thought or a color or two.



Do-It-Yourself imperfection from Etsy!


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