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: 50 pounds of pots rated an “A”, 40 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. – from Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

More than just talent

It’s very rare to find someone who is perfect from the word go. Becoming proficient or excellent takes practice, time, commitment and more determination than we sometimes realise. It would be amazing to be great from the beginning but even the ‘greats’ had to start somewhere. Natural gifting has a part to play but if you look at the dedication and focus even the most talented individuals put into their craft, you will see that gift will only take you so far.

Don’t fear mistakes

Being afraid to get something wrong, and consequently not trying, will rob you of any success or progress that you could have made if you’d just taken the leap. Ice-hockey legend, Wayne Gretzy, famously once said:

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Choose your risks wisely but don’t allow the need to be perfect steal all your opportunities. Sometimes our mistakes can teach us more than our victories.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison (Inventor of the electric lightbulb)

Everyone starts somewhere

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. – Lao Tzu

There is an endless list of celebrities, successful business people and public figures who have achieved great things from humble beginnings. Overnight success rarely happens overnight and there’s nothing wrong with starting small. Whether you’re trying something for the first time or getting your foot on the first rung of the ladder of your chosen career field, don’t discount small beginnings.

Don’t give up

If you haven’t yet reached the levels that you are dreaming of, remember you aren’t the finished product, just a work in progress.  Stick at it. Keep focussed on your goal and find quality results in high quantity production.  If you want to be a great writer. Write every day. Want to be a successful business person? Start a small business. Whatever it is, don’t allow slow progress or a few disappointments to steal your hope.  Keep going!

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