What the Hell Am I Going to Do With 50 Clay Pots?

And why do I have 50 pots? Because sometimes that’s what it takes to get one perfect pot.

It’s important to remember that there’s a process in reaching perfection. Behind every great, be it a pot or nanobot, Babe’s perfect swing, or Hendrix’s greatest riffs, are the ghosts of iterations past. Even the most impressive tools started out slower, bulkier, and far less beautiful.

So what’s the process for getting to the perfect pot?

There are many answers to this question, but my favorite comes from a ceramics professor referenced in Fear and Art:

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.

When developing your product, it’s unlikely you’ll hit perfection your first, second, or third try. Be aware of this, and push forward. The more times you’re able to complete a prototype cycle, the more you’ll learn and the better off you’ll be.

Babe wasn’t crowned King of America’s favorite pastime by spending hours reading and no time practicing. Hendrix didn’t spend years studying technique before finally picking up a guitar. Don’t spend your time planning and plotting out perfection. Just build the damn pot. Measure your successes and failures. Learn from them. And build another pot.

So what the hell am I going to do with 50 clay pots?

End up with at least one kickass pot. That’s what.

Perfection comes with time, patience, and practice. Push out your 50 pots.