ZEN+ : Helping you Stay Young and Age Well

Forget quality – Discover an alternative path to mastery…

By Marcus Santer

The ceramics teacher stood at the front of the class and said:

“You’re going to be split into two groups. The final mark for students in Group A will be based solely on the quantity of bowls you make.

  • 50 pounds of bowls will get you an A
  • 40 pounds of bowls will get you a B

And so on.

The final mark for students in Group B will be based on the quality of the one bowl you submit for the exam.”

The class was then split into Group A and Group B.

At the end of the course something fascinating had happened.

Group A – the group tested on quantity – produced significantly better quality bowls than those in Group B.

How come?

Because when Group B students had been sweating over:

Group A had just been making bowls.

And in the process of doing they discovered how to make better bowls.

This story is from the book Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

It’s message?

When it comes to mastery,
the path to higher quality is higher quantity.

You learn more by doing than by thinking.

But there are a few ways to make your ‘doing’ better.

Let me explain.

Back in 2011 I decided to start writing a Qigong related post every day for 1 year.

4 years later I’m still writing every day.

And what I’ve learned from my research into living and ageing well has revolutionised my life.

I’ve spoken to a lot of knife makers and many of them have told me a story similar to South African Knife Makers guild member: Pieter Annadale:

“I started out making throwing knives.
I made a knife and threw it away.
Made another knife and threw it away…”

Here then is an alternative path to mastery:

  1. Fail fast and fail often – Learn from doing. Your aim isn’t to be perfect it’s simply to practice.
  2. Learn from your mistakes – As Edison is supposed to have said when asked about 10,000 failed attempts to make the light bulb: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  3. Set deadlines – Are you going to create on a daily basis? Are you going to have 10 pages of your new book by this time next week? Set a deadline for what you’re practicing.

And if you want the cherry on the cake…

Get yourself an Accountability Partner to hold you… Well, to hold you accountable of course.

And like so many Z+D’s I write, this isn’t just a message I’m sharing with you, it’s one I’m writing so as to remind myself to do it too.

You see I still suffer from the flaw of trying to get it right first time – straight out of the gate.

Which logically I know is impossible.

But it doesn’t stop me sweating over the small stuff and getting analysis paralysis.

So whether you’re learning to make knives like me.


Or whatever it might be that you want to get more skilled at…

Set your quantity target
and put a deadline on it.

As my friend wrote to me:

“How many knives have you made and in how long?”

Get to work.

Bye for now


P.S. If you target is to live and age well.

And you’re not certain on where to get started with your daily targets…

You won’t do much better than ==> This <==

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