You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.
From "Defeat" by Kahlil Gibran [should be centered on the page but that function of Typepad is not working today]
In skimming the new book The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast!, I ran into a story that has influenced me ever since. Not a day has gone by in the week, plus a day, since the reading that I have not found motivation in the story. As I learn new things such as iPhoneography, I now jump in more quickly and easily, making an ever-wider detour around perfectionism. I hope the story's influence does not wear off but instead lasts until the jumping-in attitude and skill is mastered by me at the level of unconscious competence.
Another lesson I learned from this story: The effects of a story, even a short one, can be potent. Actually I relearned that lesson, as I am already convinced of story's clout. And now here's that story:
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: fifty pound 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". 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.
Like the story?