Philosophy

Quality vs. Quantity: Which one is more important for creativity?

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Is it really better to focus on quality rather than quantity?

I used to think so.

Which is why for the longest time, I would spend hours trying to perfect every creative project I took on and cared about. After all, the better the product quality, the easier it would be to sell. Right?

The truth is quantity is just as crucial to the creative process as quality. And when applied properly, quantity can lead you to the *right* kind of quality.

It’s all a matter of finding the sweet spot between making something valuable and selling it at scale.

So if you’re having a hard time figuring out the complicated relationship between quality and quantity, here are 5 insights I’ve taken away from my ever-evolving creative process:

1. Too much quantity can be a good thing.

Lots of people would argue excess of anything is bad.

But if you’re learning a new skill or marketing your business, you can never have enough of mama’s tong-gripping nachos quantity.

That’s why having “X years of experience” in a field carries value. Not necessarily because “experience” alone automatically brings value (it doesn’t). But because excellence is not “hacked” overnight.

As Alex Hormozi says, “Big things take time.”

Think of all the monumental man-made structures that have stood for centuries. They weren’t built with Chinese drywall and revenue-driven deadlines.

They’ve lasted so long because they took as much time as they needed to build them properly. And they also didn’t source building materials from China.

Same goes for anything you’re building or trying to create.

The most well-known artists aren’t necessarily the most talented but the most prolific.

You can’t expect to see significant muscle growth after just one workout.

And “Made in China” still sets off alarm bells about reliability and potential fire hazards.

Bottom line when it comes to progressing toward a big hairy goal:

You don’t need any special “hack.”

Just do the basics over and over and over again.

And when you think you’re done, do them some more.

2. On the other hand, too much quality can actually be a bad thing.

I have an unpopular opinion about perfectionism that might piss off anyone who likes to think of themselves as perfectionists:

Perfectionism is a cop-out for dealing with negative feedback.

I say this because I know this was true for me.

I couldn’t share an Instagram post of my food unless the photo was perfectly lit.

In fact, I used to go so far as to actually Photoshop some of my Instagram posts.

Because I was afraid that people wouldn’t like my post otherwise. If it wasn’t flashy. If it wasn’t “unique” and jaw-dropping and out-of-this-reality.

And maybe I would’ve been right. But what I know is that obsessing over every last detail… spending hours playing around with filters and tweaking image settings… all that meant that I was losing out on time I could spend producing more content.

Here’s what I’m getting at:

It’s fine to value quality and go to certain lengths to maintain a specific standard.

But unless you’ve already solved the problem of how to scale your production levels and output volume, it’s best to keep the tweaking and “attention to detail” down to a minimum.

Because even if you’ve got the perfect product to solve your customer’s problems…

Even if your marketing materials and website are dressed to the nines…

Nobody is going to see your shit if nobody knows about it.

There are plenty of beautiful websites that never see the light of day. And just as many basic and downright ugly webpages that bring in thousands of paying customers.

And why is that?

3. Quality is subjective.

One of the biggest issues I have with the restaurant industry is how so many menus are “chef-driven.”

Because instead of trying to figure out what customers actually like to eat… lots of chefs cook up what they think would taste good.

But if nearly a decade of preparing food for tens of thousands of people has taught me anything, it’s that every one of us has our own personal quirks and standards when it comes to what we mean by “good food.”

Some people suffer an aneurism if you put pineapple on a pizza. Others love a good Hawaiian.

Hell, I think McDonald’s sells the best damn vanilla milkshake I’ve ever had the privilege of tasting. And they don’t even use real ice cream.

Case in point:

Nobody gives a fuck about what you think amounts to good quality. Your audience only cares about what’s good enough for them.

Which means you can pour hours of your time into perfecting a product… and spend huge sums of money on top-quality resources and raw materials.

But if none of your customers can tell the difference between a 72-hour braised beef short rib and the eye of round steak you threw into your Instant Pot, then maybe there’s a better way to allocate your time and resources.

4. It’s a matter of sequence, not importance.

When people debate the merits of quality vs. quantity, it often sounds like another installment of Highlander

The point isn’t to establish once and for all that quantity or quality is better than the other.

It’s being able to figure out when you should focus more on quantity, and when is a more appropriate time to focus on quality.

Gary Vee puts it a bit more succinctly: “Quantity produces quality.”

In other words, quantity and quality can and should coexist. But they serve different functions at different stages in the creative process.

Quantity is what you need when you’re a content creator who’s just starting out or learning a new skill. Because getting better at anything takes lots and lots of practice. So the more practice reps you can get in, the sooner you can multiply the value of your offer.

And since that value — a.k.a. the quality of your product/service — depends on what your customers care about, you don’t really know how much quality is enough until you’ve got enough customer feedback.

Which means creative success isn’t merely a matter of choosing quantity over quality, or vice versa. It’s simply a balancing act between nailing down the basics and meeting customer demands.

And speaking of success…

5. There is no shortcut to excellence in quality or quantity.

I don’t typically hate on words.

But the idea of “hacking” your way to success is one of my top 3 gear grinders.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with wanting a better way to do things.

It’s that so many people are bent on achieving success overnight… that they think they can achieve top-notch results even if they cut a couple corners here and there.

Nobody wants to put in the hard work.

Nobody wants to bet on themselves and risk everything on their dreams.

Nobody wants to eat tuna fish and cabbage day in and day out because they’re bootstrapping their own business.

Nobody wants to skip out on time with their friends and IG-inspired vacations so they can devote their energy to building something special.

Everybody wants success yesterday.

But nobody has the patience for it.

Here’s the thing:

Even if you do become “successful” overnight, you still have to figure out what the fuck you’re supposed to do with the rest of your life.

(Incidentally, this is also why I think it’s insane that people commit themselves to staying with one romantic partner for the next 75+ years at the ripe age of 25. But what the fuck do I know 🤷‍♂️)

Which leads me to the same conclusion as Earl Nightingale when it comes to understanding success.

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”

In other words, success isn’t so much about achieving the goal but simply working toward it.

Success is a journey, not a destination.

Which is why success isn’t about how many multimillion-dollar homes you can afford, or which limited edition supercars you own.

It’s not about how many commas you have in your bank account, or the fancy title that impresses fellow cocktail party guests.

Success is about playing a game you love. Not necessarily because you want to beat everyone, or because you’re good at it.

It’s about playing because you love to play.

And the longer you’re willing to play… the more heart you have… the better you’ll get.

It’s not the series of achievements that allow successful people to have 20+ year-long careers.

It’s the 20+ years they’ve spent toiling away and sucking at new things that’ve guaranteed that success would be inevitable.

So here’s the one thing I hope you take away from all this:

Don’t play to win. Play to play.

 

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