Quality vs. Quantity

Jul 15, 2021 2 min read
Quantity beats quality

Whether you're an artist, businessman, or athlete, everyone strives for perfection in their work. However, rather than always striving for unrealistic expectations, this article reveals the power of quantity.

Whether you're an artist, businessman, or athlete, everyone strives for perfection in their work. Some would argue that quality work comes from focusing on all the small details of a single work vs. producing a large quantity of lower-quality work. However, there is power in quantity, and this power comes from the volume of practice and experimentation.

In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear points out an experiment that sheds light on the quality vs. quantity debate. Here's a paraphrase of the story.

Jerry Uelsmann, a photography professor at the University of Florida, divided his students up into two groups on the first day of class.

The first group of students was in the "quantity" group, where they would be graded based on the amount of work they produced. Therefore, 100 photos would receive an A, 90 photos a B, 80 photos a C, and so on.

The second group of students was in the "quality" group, where they would be graded solely on the excellence of their work. So students needed to submit only one photo, but the image had to be of the highest quality to receive an A.

During the semester, the professor observed that the students in the quantity group spent a lot of their time experimenting, exploring, testing different composition and lighting techniques, and learning from countless mistakes. On the other hand, the quality group sat around and focused on what was to be the perfect photo. Finally, at the end of the semester, all the students from both groups submitted their work to the teacher.

After going through the photos from both groups, the professor concluded that the students from the quantity group had the best photos, while the quality group submitted only mediocre images.

This story captures the essence of the power of quantity. It's about doing a lot of exploring, experimenting, testing, failing, and quality will be a result.

The quality group was in a state of perfection paralysis, where fear and resistance lingered since the "perfect" idea hadn't appeared or the "best" concept did not enter their mind. Perfectionism will keep you idle and make it much harder to reach the desired results.

In the book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about writing the first draft,

"Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere."

So when it comes to your next project or starting your next idea, start now and avoid the feeling that it needs to be perfect. Instead, explore, experiment, tweak and fail, and through the whole process, you'll be getting to your results much sooner.  

Let's rephrase the classic quantity vs. quality argument to:

Quantity leads to Quality
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