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The Benefits of Failure

The Benefits of Failure

A few weeks ago I was quibbling to my dad about the failed state of a project I was working on. A couple days later he sent me the following email:

I was cleaning out my e-mail and ran across this short story that I think is great.

“Here’s a story I heard from Alexander Kjerulf, who was talking about David Bayles’s book Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking:

A 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 the work they produced. All those on the right would be graded solely on their works’ 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.

At grading time, the works with the 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 clay.”

What a great lesson and an interesting look at the quantity vs. quality concept that more produces less quality and less produces higher quality.

So what is there to benefit from failing? I have decided that it is better to produce failed projects than none at all. At least that way I have the opportunity to learn from experience.

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