I love listening to motivational speakers on YouTube. I heard one tell a story, about a group of photography students. The group is split in half. One half of the group is told that they will be rated at the end of the year by submitting one image. So, they should make it the most amazing beautiful image that encapsulates everything that they have learnt through the course of the year.
The second group of students is told that they are only going to be judged by the quantity of work they produce.
Twelve months later the students submit their work for evaluation. The surprising thing is that the highest quality, most technically skilled, most exciting and innovative work has been created, by the students who thought they were being evaluated only on the quantity of work they produced. So, despite not focusing on the perfect outcome, they have created the highest quality work. Sure, it was amongst a massive body of low-quality work. But that doesn’t matter.
The lessons we can draw from this are interesting. I’m a perfectionist at heart. Like the students evaluated on one single image, I’m guilty of seeking perfection. This reduces our ability to innovate, to explore techniques, to try new things and fail.
The group scored on the quantity of work produced has a different relationship with failure. Less than perfect work doesn’t feel like a failure as it’s another item towards a body of work for evaluation. With each failure, significantly they are failing forwards. With each new picture, each new composition, each new lighting setup their skills improve a little bit, and they move closer to being skilled photographers.
Are you guilty of seeking perfection when maybe, increasing your output would serve you better? I hope you will give this a go. Remember we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.