On the first day of the class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film photography students into two groups. Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the Quantity group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produce. On the final day of the class, he would tally the numbers of the photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate as A, 90 photos as B, eighty photos as C.
Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the classroom would be the Quality group. They would be graded only on the excellence of the work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be nearly as perfect an image.However, at the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all best the photos were from the Quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing on various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photographs they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the Quality group sat around speculating about perfection, and at the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.
As a matter of fact, we are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action. “The best is the enemy of the good” as Voltaire said. There is an important distinction between being in motion and taking action. Sounds familiar and seems to be almost similar, but they’re not. Action drives performance and the result. For illustration, if I search for a better diet plan, read a couple of good books on the topic, that’s the motion. If I actually eat a healthy meal, that’s action.When you’re in motion, you’re planning, strategizing and learning. Those are good things but they don’t produce results. However, it makes us feel we are making progress without running the risk of failure. But when preparation becomes a form of procrastination, you need to be cautious.
Most of us are experts at avoiding criticism. It doesn’t feel good to fail or to be judged, we tend to avoid situations where that might happen, and we slip into motion rather than taking action. If you want to excel, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. This is a continuous process. There is no finish line.
With my over three hundred hours of coaching experience, I am enjoying and still learning, not chasing perfection. I am in my perpetual action. Are your leaders in a perpetual motion or action mode? Do they focus on being in motion, not taking action?