Quantity Versus Quality

These bowls were turned by a beginning wood working class. During the week each student turned at least 25-30 bowls. Each bowl provided an opportunity to practice, learn and improve their skills and techniques. At the end of the week the class was asked to show the school their best work. Having created an abundance of bowls each student had multiple options to share with everyone.

When we create we tend to focus on doing things perfectly. We strive, we labor, we lament, we even slow down and ponder while creating a piece. Our goal is to create something that exemplifies the best we can produce. When we exert all this energy on one single project we tend to become hesitant to take risks as that risk might go wrong and ruin all the previous efforts. Eventually we start procrastinating and fear settles into our head. We become our own worst critic about our next step, we stall our creative juices, and dread takes over.

For these woodworking students they didn’t have time to invite fear and dread into their heads. They were turning bowls so rapidly during the week that they moved from one to another without hesitation. Quantity provides the gift of freedom. Quantity allows us to keep moving, keep producing, keep active, and to keep learning without hesitation or anxiety. Sure there are mistakes, sure things go wrong, and yes there will be massive pitfalls; with quantity there is forgiveness and freedom to fail. The pressure valve is empty and volume provides an elegant way to learn without self loathing.

It is when we focus on doing things perfectly that hesitation, fear and anxiety set into our brains. When we give ourselves and the people around us the ability to learn via quantity we fail often and fail fast without the fear of being rebuffed. We see our mistake and correct them in the next go around or on the next project. Eventually our work grows exponentially, rapidly with leaps and bounds and our confidence shines. We are more willing to take a risk, experiment and grow beyond where we thought possible.

When we look back at our work we see that the more we do the more we learn, the more we fail the further we progress, and the more we focus on quantity over quality the better we become. It is the lifelong battle between quantity and quality. When in doubt, go with quantity.

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