When is Quantity Better Than Quality?

Recently, an article from this blog was mentioned in a page on The Jordan Harbinger Show website. Okay, I hadn’t heard of the Jordan Harbinger Show either, but apparently it’s a popular podcast with previous guests such as Kobe Bryant, Tony Hawk, and Simon Sinek. In his latest episode, he happened to be interviewing Adam Grant, the author of a book I had mentioned in one of my blog posts. In the show notes, my blog post on imposter syndrome was one of the suggested resources.

So what am I getting at here? Well, everyday in the last few months I have been writing and posting on things I find interesting, and created a catalogue of blog posts I can peruse through at my own leisure. I’ve written 77 posts in the last 62 days, usually taking about an hour to write each day.

Why so many posts? Firstly, it’s a good way of trying to get better at writing, and being more comfortable with producing and sharing my thoughts. But also, I knew that the more blog posts I wrote, the more chance there would be that there’s something that someone out there likes. I just pelted as much shit on the wall as possible, to see what would stick.

Now I’m not saying that quality is not desirable – of course it is. But the maxim of quality at the expense of quantity doesn’t always ring true. If I just focused on making one or two of the best possible blog posts in the last couple of months instead of producing 77 daily blog posts, I have a feeling that exactly zero of my posts would’ve been mentioned in any award-winning podcasters’ websites. It’s akin to buying 77 lottery tickets instead of one, without having to pay 77x the price.

My sister has amassed over 40k followers on her Instagram page about books from almost-daily posting and engagement with her followers. Of course, the quality of the posts are good too, but the fact that she has posted over 1200 times probably helps.

Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk recently suggested that Netflix may put traditional movie theatres out of business because of the sheer quantity of movies and shows they are making. He highlights that quantity in creative fields no longer needs to be demonized in the Internet-age, and the unfortunate thing about quality is that it’s subjective. The shit that sticks with one person may not with another. What Vaynerchuk is mainly getting at though, is that you’re now more likely to find a Golden Globe-winner like The Queen’s Gambit in Netflix’s 71 movies coming out this year, than in Sony’s 13 movies scheduled for release.

In what ways can quantity trump quality in your life? I’d love to know in your comments!

Imposter Syndrome: How Can You Use Doubt Positively?

We’ve all been taught that doubt is bad. Doubt is weakness. Doubt means you don’t believe in yourself or your ideas. Doubt is less persuasive, doubt is insecurity.

But what about arrogance and overconfidence? A mixture of ignorance and conviction in people can be dangerous – in the past, it led to the 2008 global financial crisis and the Brexit referendum.

In his book Think Again, Adam Grant defines imposter syndrome as competence exceeding confidence. On the other side, armchair quarterback syndrome is where confidence exceeds competence. The sweet spot is somewhere in between.

However, Grant argues that it’s better to err on the side of imposter syndrome. The humility of knowing that we can be wrong and fallible would probably have prevented the disasters mentioned above. With a healthy sense of doubt, Wall Street officials maybe would have stopped contributing to a broken system of bad debt leading to the collapse of the housing market in 2008. Prime Minister David Cameron was so confident of a Remain vote in the Brexit referendum that he felt forced to resign when the public voted in the opposite direction.

A potential benefit in imposter syndrome is that it drives us to work harder and to get better. If we don’t feel like we deserve the role or adulation we have been given, we may be motivated to prove ourselves even more. More importantly, imposters seem to learn better, seek out insight from others, and have the humility to know that they don’t know everything.

In some ways, it makes more sense that confidence should come as a result of competence increasing. Personally, my confidence got shattered quite quickly when I started in sales because I thought I was going to be much better than I actually was. Because my confidence was so high to begin with, it was pretty destructive, but luckily I still had the self-belief that maybe I could improve and finally see some results.

Grant advises us to be both confident and humble. Have faith in your strengths but also be aware of your weaknesses. Be confident in yourself but also have the humility to question whether you have the right tools in the present. Learning can be never-ending if you choose it to be.

The Three Ps: A Mental Framework to Deal With Your Problems

The three Ps come from research on happiness by Martin Seligman, described in Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, and a few years ago found her husband dead on a hotel gym floor. The book is about how she dealt with the trauma and grief, and strategies to deal with adversity.

And that’s where the three Ps comes in. When people inevitably come across adversity in life, there are three common things we say to ourselves which make things worse.

The first P is personalization. Personalization means that when things go wrong, you blame yourself. After all, you’re the common factor in all the problems you come across, right? And we’ve also been taught concepts like internal locus of control, and taking responsibility of our lives too. But where there is a misunderstanding is the difference between taking responsibility and placing fault or blame on yourself.

When I was first starting out as a door-to-door salesman, I rarely sold anything. Of course, the natural self-talk was to blame myself. “I suck, wow I’m really bad at this. No-one wants to buy anything from me. Oh God, I’m way worse than I thought I’d be at this.” As good as it is to take responsibility for your results, it is important to understand that firstly, you’re not the only one finding it difficult. Many people have gone through the same struggle you’re going through too, no matter what it is. Secondly, just because someone didn’t buy off you doesn’t mean it’s all your fault. To this day, most prospects still decline the product I’m offering. When someone declines my offer, my self-talk nowadays is: “They didn’t want it.” No blame on anyone, just stating the facts. Of course, I still try to improve at sales, but I try not to beat myself up when things aren’t going well.

The second P is pervasiveness. Pervasiveness means that a problem in one area of your life ends up pervading, or spreading, to every other part of life. Work problems get taken into your home, into intimate relationships, into aspects of mental and physical health and so on. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

During the same, harrowing period starting in door-to-door sales, I slowly began to realize that I was basing my value as a human being solely on whether I had made sales that day or not. And of course, most days I wasn’t making sales. So, my value was pretty fucking low. I didn’t want to speak to anyone after work, and I was getting into a deeper and deeper hole of low-confidence where it was going to take a gargantuan effort to escape. I even ate junk food to try to make myself feel better. But it doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t even make any sense. There’s a lot more to life than work. And there’s a lot of stuff that you’re actually pretty good at. Nowadays, as a sales manager, I always remind new salespeople that the amount of sales they make doesn’t equate to their value as a person. I’m also much better at compartmentalizing work problems as work problems, and not letting those issues infect other parts of my life.

The third P is permanence. Permanence means that you come to believe that the problem will always be there, and that how terrible you’re feeling right now is destined never to end.

As already mentioned, I became stuck in a vicious circle where self-confidence was going so low that I didn’t know if it would ever come back. Luckily, everything in life is impermanent. There’s nothing in life that isn’t impermanent, even life itself will end at some point. So having the grit to stick in there and understand that a bad period won’t last forever gives hope for the future and inspiration for the present moment.

In what situations did the three Ps play a part in your life? And how did you overcome it? I’d love to know, comment below.