Do the work, and a lot of it

Success happens by laying the groundwork brick by brick

Ariel Liu
on 31 May 2017

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…[come] 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. – Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Too often, our world of instant gratification tricks us into believing that great things come out of nowhere and that success happens overnight. It’s not only blatantly false, but incredibly relieving that that’s the case. The relieving thing about it is that that means anyone can be successful. It’s not just luck of the draw or pure innate talent. Talent emerges when you build up skills over time. Success happens by laying the groundwork brick by brick.