Quantity beats quality, every time
Quantity is typically something to avoid. We negatively associate the concept of quantity with mass production or materialism. And in these scenarios, we often find that the quality is sacrificed for the sake of cost, convenience and/or speed. We tout “quality over quantity” as a noble pursuit to “less is more.”
Quality is the hero that saves us from gluttonous consumption.
This, in most cases, is a cliché worthy of acknowledgment across the broad spectrums of life. But as applicable as it may be in terms of product production or consumption, “the more the merrier” is the heroic adage in the quest for progressive productivity.
In terms of pursuits marked by creativity, inspiration, momentum, and consistency, achieving quantity is the key to achieving quality. Conversely, when quality is your primary objective, you wander a dead-end path defined by crippling over-calculation and stagnating analysis-paralysis.
Quantity gets a bad rap but it’s the cornerstone of consistency and improvement, both of which are the foundation of quality.
Why quantity is the new quality
The pursuit of perfection is one of procrastination’s most common culprits. This noble but tedious pursuit strangles the creation of anything, of quality or otherwise.
This is due to our meticulous over-calculation and analysis. We mull over the futile formulas, possibilities and strategies before beginning. This hesitation imposes more pressure upon our goals to be of immediate excellence on the first try. And this pressure leaves us stagnant at the starting line.
These formulas and strategies will never outshine action. The over-consideration of possibility or planning will never exceed the simple placement of one foot in front of the other.
You are busy trying to hypothesize and strategize the perfect way to approach and produce the perfect outcome. Meanwhile, you are squandering valuable energy and time on futile and ineffective inactivity.
You may be an encyclopedia on that subject now. You may know every strategized approach to generate perfection. But with each second of inaction, you lose your will to actually begin employing your theories actively.
You begin to gain a false sense of accomplishment simply for having thought about the perfect way to create the perfect scenario to produce the perfect product.
We end up forfeiting action in favor of cautious planning and then suffocating under our own unrealistic standards.
Quality is not the goal—quality is a byproduct
The hack to quality is understanding that it is never achieved as a direct objective. The exclusive pursuit of quality will trip you up on inactive thought processes. Meanwhile, quantity simply does, then analyzes, then does again, but better than before. Quantity continues this cycle until quality is inevitable.
You must strive for quantity to win quality as a byproduct.
Quantity is the author of consistency which authors momentum which produces confidence which fosters improvement. These are the crucial ingredients of quality.
Quantity beats quality because ultimately quantity induces quality.
From the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland:
The benefits of quantity
Quantity builds momentum
When you are only thinking about quality, you end up losing a lot of ground and becoming a sitting duck. This is a horrible hit to your morale.
The less you move, the more you feel that action is intangible. And the less tangible you goal seems the more it seems unreachable. And the more something feels unreachable the more likely you are to stop reaching.
Quantity builds momentum. Though you may end up with a lot of crumpled up drafts or less-than-stellar work, it keeps you going. And as long as you keep going, you will gain the momentum needed to sustain that confidence and consistency.
Quantity builds confidence
The more you do something, the more you improve. And the more you improve, the more you become self-assured by that improvement.
You are impressing yourself with your own sharpened abilities. You prove to yourself that you are exponentially more capable than you could have estimated when you first set out on your journey to progress.
This self-assurance is instrumental in quality because as you gain momentum. You replace that timidity that stifles action with a confidence that you can do more than you can imagine if you simply ‘do.’
Quantity prefers improvement over perfection
Quantity favors growth. Growth is a strategy that utilizes an improvement-through-consistency formula, embracing your flawed but malleable humanity.
On the other side of the spectrum, perfection is more a labor of vanity and fear. Pursuing perfection reflects your obsession with the outward appearance of your work.
You don’t want to be perceived as inadequate or amateur, by yourself or others. You are afraid your work will expose your flaws. But those exposed flaws are exactly what you need to assess where and how to improve. And you can’t see and improve those flaws if you don’t give yourself a chance to put something—anything—in motion.
It is natural to fear negative feedback, but you will need to embrace the negative input to get to the positive output.
The pursuit of growth allows your efforts to mature organically. And though it exposes you to criticism, it also exposes you to room for improvement. This awareness allows you to learn and apply your experience to your process. Groth’s sole concern is progress. And if progress entails failure, it’s worth it in the long run.
In turn, perfectionism prefers to hide any shortcomings. It prefers to go from novice to expert without the growing pains. Or at least to appear that way. Perfectionism’s sole concern is pride. And if pride entails stagnancy, well, at least it’s not embarrassing. As your flaws cower behind that facade, you protect yourself from both criticism and growth.
Quantity builds habits
As your quantitative journey continues, you will find that these actions begin to come to you more fluidly. You crave it. Your consistency transforms your tasks into routines. If a day goes by without your new habit, something feels amiss. It has become second nature. These habits are what turns a hobby into a lifestyle and a reputation into a legacy.
It is no longer just what you do, it is who you are.
Quantity provides insight
Quantity is a great measurement tool. You can literally see yourself grow and improve as you build a body of work. It also reveals your weaknesses so that you can focus on them in order to turn them into strengths.
Sometimes I like to look back over my planners to see what kinds of things I focused on achieving weeks or months prior, surprised at how easy those tasks come to me at the present.
It is better to be prolific than perfect.
Practice makes perfect because the concept of practice is strictly quantitative. It uses active repetition as the means to improvement and progress. Quantity is the parent of prolific production and expertise. Contrarily, quality is the parent of “grandiose theories and piles of dead clay.”
Your theories of quality will most likely make you plenty informed on the subject, but the unmatched action will leave you in the same spot that you started. That is where the cliché “those who can’t do, teach,” comes from.
When you find yourself striving to create perfect scenarios with which to begin, step back and embrace imperfect action. Relinquish your unfounded and unrealistic expectations and allow yourself to learn and have fun.
Once you begin, you will find that your momentum will prompt you to act more than analyze. And in this action, you will find exponential improvement until you achieve mastery.
Do you think quantity beats quality? What methods do you use to be consistent?
Image via Pinterest
Also published on Medium.