Why you should be striving for quantity rather than quality
The concept of quantity is often negatively associated with mass production or gluttonous consumption, the quality of which is sacrificed for the sake of cost, convenience and/or speed. We tout “quality over quantity” as a meritable pursuit to “less is more.”
This, in most cases, is a cliche worthy of employment across the broad spectrums of life. As applicable is it may be in terms of product production or consumption, “the more the merrier” is the valid adage in the quest for progressive productivity.
In terms of pursuits marked by creativity, inspiration, momentum, and consistency, achieving quantity is the key to achieving quality. Conversely, when quality is your primary objective, you get the key to a dead-end door that leads to crippling over-calculation and stagnating analysis paralysis. Quantity generically gets a bad rep but it is the cornerstone of consistency and improvement, both of which are the foundation of quality.
Why quantity is the new quality
The pursuit of perfection is one of procrastination’s most common culprits. This noble but tedious pursuit strangles the production of anything, of quality or otherwise.
This is due to our meticulous over-calculation and analysis — we stagnate over the futile formulas and strategies, imposing more pressure upon our goals to be of immediate excellence on the first try. But these formulas will never outshine action.
If you are busying yourself trying to hypothesize and strategize the perfect way to approach and produce the perfect outcome, you will be squandering valuable energy and time on futile and ineffective inactivity. You may be an encyclopedia on that subject now, you may know every strategized approach to generate perfection, but with each second of inaction, you lose your will to actually begin employing your theories actively. You begin to gain a false sense of accomplishment simply for having thought about the perfect way to create the perfect scenario to produce the perfect product.
We end up forfeiting action in favor of cautious planning and then suffocating under our own unrealistic standards.
The hack to quality is understanding that it can never be achieved as a direct objective. The exclusive pursuit of quality will trip you up on inactive thought processes while quantity simply does, then analyzes, then does again, but better than before. You must strive for quantity to win quality as a byproduct.
Quantity is the author of consistency which authors momentum which produces confidence which fosters improvement. These are your best ingredients to produce quality.
Ultimately quantity induces quality.
From the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland:
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 would be judged solely on the quality of their work. 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 pounds 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”.
When grading time came, 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.
Quantity builds momentum
When you are only thinking about quality, you end up losing a lot of ground and becoming a sitting duck. This is a horrible hit to your morale because the less you move the more you feel that action is intangible. And the less tangible you goal seems the more it begins threatening to morph into the impossible.
Quantity builds momentum, and even though you may end up with a lot of crumpled up drafts or less-than-stellar work, it keeps you going. And as long as you keep going, you will gain the momentum needed to sustain that confidence and consistency.
Quantity builds confidence
The more you do something the more you improve and the more you become self-assured by that improvement. You are impressing yourself with your sharpened abilities, proving to yourself that you are exponentially more capable than you could have estimated when you first set out on your journey to progress.
This self-assurance is instrumental to quality because as you gain momentum, you replace that timidity that stifles action with a confidence that you can do more than you can imagine if you simply ‘do.’
Quantity respects improvement over perfection
Quantity favors growth. Growth is a strategy that utilizes an improvement-through-consistency formula, embracing your flawed but malleable humanity.
Perfection is more a labor of vanity and fear.
Pursuing perfection is a reflection of your obsession with the outward appearance of your work. You don’t want to be perceived as inadequate or amateur, by yourself or others. You are afraid your work will expose your flaws, but those exposed flaws are exactly what you need in order to assess where and how to improve. And you can’t see and improve those flaws if you don’t give yourself a chance to put something — anything — in motion. It is natural to fear negative feedback, but you need the negative input to get to the positive output.
The pursuit of improvement allows your work to grow organically, exposing room for improvement. In turn, perfectionism prefers to hide any shortcomings behind a shield protecting your flaws from little more than potential progress simply to uphold a favorable appearance.
Quantity builds habits
As your quantitative journey continues, you will find that these actions begin to come to you more fluidly. You crave it. Your consistency has transformed your task into a routine. If a day goes by without your new habit, something feels amiss. It has become second nature. These habits are what turns a hobby into a lifestyle and a reputation into a legacy.
It is no longer just what you do, it is who you are.
Quantity provides insight
Quantity is a great measurement tool. You can literally see yourself grow and improve as you build a body of work. It also reveals your weaknesses so that you can focus on them in order to turn them into strengths.
Sometimes I like to look back over my planners to see what kinds of things I was focused on achieving weeks or months prior, surprised at how easy those tasks come to me at the present.
It is better to be prolific than perfect.
Practice makes perfect because the concept of practice is strictly quantitative. It uses active repetition as the means to improvement and progress. Quantity is the parent of prolific production and expertise, while quality is the parent of “grandiose theories and piles of dead clay.”
Your theories of quality will most likely make you plenty knowledgeable on the subject, but the unmatched action will leave you in the same exact spot that you started.
When you find yourself striving to create perfect scenarios with which to begin, step back and embrace imperfect action. Relinquish your unfounded and unrealistic expectations and allow yourself have fun. Once you begin, you will find that your momentum will prompt you to act more than analyze, and you will find this continued action will improve until mastery is achieved.
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Originally published at Pursuit of Daydreams.