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Good morning dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. Following on from my last two articles, I wish to digress, only a little however & discuss goals ~ again. I have given you my thoughts on this issue previously, & I do not wish to repeat those messages. However, people may still have goals which are important to them. My question: is it our drive to achieve a certain outcome which makes us better, or something else entirely?
In the book Art & Fear, authors David Bayles and Ted Orland 1 share a surprising story about a ceramics teacher. This story just might reframe the way you think about setting goals, making progress, & becoming better at the things which are important to you.
Here is a summary of the story…
The ceramics teacher announced 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 & weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, & so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.
Well, grading time came & a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!
It seems, while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — & learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had been sitting around theorizing about perfection, & in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories & a pile of dead clay.
The lesson here friends, one needs to start with repetitions, not goals.
It is not just art studios where repetitions matter. Whenever you put in consistent work & learn from your mistakes, incredible progress is the result.
This is why I enjoy the commitment to writing a new article every weekend. Typically by Thursday, if the inspiration has not arrived, I begin searching. I cannot predict which articles will be useful, but I do know, if I write one a week, then sometimes I will hit the bullseye.
And it works the same way with almost any goal you could have…
If you want to be a great photographer, you could go on a quest to take one perfect photo each day. Or you could take 100 photos a day, learn from your mistakes, & improve your craft.
If you want to be stronger, you could analyse every movement & phase of your technique or, you could get under the bar, learn from your mistakes, & focus on doing more reps.
If you want to write a best-selling book, then you could spend 10 years trying to write one perfect book. Or, you could write one book each year, learn from your mistakes, & trust your books will get better each time.
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you could scheme & think & try to plan out the perfect business idea. Or, you could try to get one customer, learn from your mistakes, & experiment with new ideas until something comes easily. Not everyone is a Richard Branson & rent a plane once which becomes an empire. I am sure he practiced many routes, many times.
It is not the quest to achieve one perfect goal which makes you better, it is the skills you develop from doing a volume of work.
In other words, when you think about your goals, do not just consider the outcome you want. Focus on the repetitions leading to the place you want to be. Focus on the piles of work to come before the success. Focus on the hundreds of ceramic pots to come before the masterpiece.
When you look at goals this way, you start to realize, setting up a system for putting your reps in is more important than choosing a goal.
Everyone wants to make progress. And there is only one way to do it: put in your repetitions.
The goal is just an event ~ something you cannot totally control or predict. But the reps are what can make the event happen. If you ignore the outcomes & focus only on the repetitions, you will still get results. If you ignore the goals & build habits instead, the outcomes will be there anyway.
Forget about the goals. What is your plan for getting in the reps you need? What is your schedule for putting in a volume of work on the things important to you?
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for the weekend ahead. I look forward to being with you all again next weekend.
2  Inspiration this week from James Clear ~ the full article can be found @

Kenn Butler
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