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Quantity, Then Quality

It seems with any skill I try to pick up, before I get good I need to use it a lot. I've never just started something and instantly been good at it. Even the way I do something as simple as watching TV shows has improved over time. Through watching countless episodes of TV over the years, my tastes have grown and my viewing experience has improved from the body of "work" that came before it. Watching TV shows may not be the most robust example, but from watching bad cartoons and awful live-action stuff as a kid, to watching a show like Better Call Saul now, is a huge jump in terms of viewing ability required. Now TV watching ability isn't a skill worth bragging about, but this kind of process can be applied to any skill. Growth comes from exposure to new ideas and new ways of looking at old ones, and from quantity comes quality.

It's unfair to expect greatness without effort. Continued focus and effort, are fertilizer for improvement. Sure, it'd be nice to read one page of a book and say, "That's it. I know all I need to know." That's just not reality. World class ability takes time and effort to attain. I'm fairly sure that even Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever live, couldn't drop 50 points in an NBA game when he was in grade school. His game hadn't fully matured yet, but with focused effort and lots of practice his talents grew.

There will be a lot of missteps and mistakes along the way from little to no skills, all the way to proficiency or mastery. Finding and correcting errors is progress and mistakes are actually a great thing. Mistakes mean that not only is effort being put in towards positive growth, but an opportunity to improve has opened up. Mistakes also can be used as motivation for improvement. The drive to want to correct mistakes is a valuable trait, one that can be relied upon to achieve whatever you set out to do.

Last week, I wrote a piece called, "Do Something Remarkable." In it I write about the iterative process of improvement. I used the example of if I write 100 articles, the 100th article should be better than the 10th because all of the articles in between were practice for the latest entry. This is such a powerful idea. Through the repetition and process of doing something many times, or in a single word, practicing, we get better. New ideas come and old ideas are improved upon. From the sheer quantity of work required to write 100 articles, or 100 programs, or anything else, the quality of the work would certainly improve. Sure, people get lucky sometimes and hit on quality early, but for everyone else: quantity, then quality.

Published on 4/14/2016 10:10:16 PM

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