Posts Tagged ‘quality’

Quality Results Guaranteed

September 12, 2008

The trick to doing most anything well is doing it badly first.

My favorite illustration of this comes from the pages of a wonderful (short) book called 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 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.”

Perhaps it is truer to say that the trick to doing most anything well is DOING the thing in the first place. The hurdle lies in moving from contemplation into action…and the best way over the hurdle is practice.  Far too often, we don’t give ourselves permission to practice — to dive in head first, make a mess of things…in essence, create a bunch of ugly pots.

But what if we did?  What if, more often than not, we moved across the great divide between contemplation and action by focusing on doing rather than on doing well?  What if we set our sights on the quantity of practice rather than on the quality of our efforts?

Consider it…What would change for you if you gave yourself more permission to practice?


P.S. Many thanks for the terrific response to last month’s ZoomLetter on Laughter! Friend and veteran television director & producer, Abby Russell, makes it her mission to share the benefits of laughter with others.  Abby is the founder of Comedy Fights Cancer, a non-profit organization that delivers live and taped stand-up comedy to patients in hospitals and care facilities and organizes comedy benefits to raise money for cancer research.  CFC’s mission is to improve patient quality of life through humor. Learn more about this amazing organization at

Jen helps people to set goals and then exceed their own expectations!
Her personal & career coaching programs are custom-designed for students and professionals.  Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Smart Money,, Time Out New York, and on The Today Show.

To learn more about Jen’s private coaching services, or to schedule an introductory session, please contact Jen directly:

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I’m Writing a Novel in 31-Days Flat!

January 5, 2008

It’s true…I’m writing a 50,000 word novel from scratch in one month’s time.

Why? Probably for similar reasons that some folks run marathons — I’ve always wanted to; it’s possible; and I’m imagining it feels really good to cross the finish line!

I started typing on January 1st at 2:00pm, and so far, I’m 8,338 words into writing. Those of you who are clients of mine know that I take wild-eyed delight in off-beat, “push the envelope” types of actions. I also believe that any coach worth her salt must take the same kinds of risks (and do the same types of “crazy” things) she asks of her clients. I am also downright intrigued by the concept that a focus on quantity (50,000 words) while overlooking quality (i.e. saying goodbye to dreams of penning the great American novel) banishes perfectionism, provides a needed kick in the pants…and in a wild and extraordinary way, tends to yield quality in the very act of doing. I’m game to be my own guinea-pig here, creating 2-3 hours of writing time each day — before, after, and between clients — and will let you know how it goes towards the end of this month!

If you’re curious about what inspired me, check out the National Novel Writing Month website ( Every November, thousands of people around the globe embark on a month-long journey into novel writing, supporting each other as cyber-companions. The “friendly competition” is open to anyone, according to NaNoWriMo, who values “enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft…[and who has] thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved. Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output.”

I missed last November’s window, so I bought the NaNoWriMo book (“No Plot, No Problem” by Chris Baty), and committed to braving the writing waters on my own this month. I’d love for you to join me in the adventure — message me here.

I’ll catch you on the other side of “THE END”…

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