The day after I published the post about Outcome vs. Output I went outside with my girls to collect acorns. I told them to pick as many as they wanted, but to leave the ones that already had holes or were cracked for the squirrels.
Pixie (youngest daughter) got to it. She was in the zone, collecting acorns everywhere, filling her basket to the brim. She loves to collect things, the tinier the better. She could have done this for ever.
Moxie looked at every single acorn. Examined it. Turned it around. Asked me what I thought about it. Tried to find a matching cap if it didn’t come with one. In most cases, she put the acorn back on the ground, looking for a better one. At the end, she had six acorns in her basket. And she was happy about it.
It reminded me of the clay pot experiment. I’m not sure where it originally took place, but here is what I read. I heard the story from different sources, but the main points are always the same.
A few years ago on a college campus, a ceramics professor decided to try an experiment in one of his classes. At the start of the semester he divided the class into two groups and explained that each group would be graded differently.
Group 1 would be graded on the total number of pots they could create throughout the semester, with a minor importance given to quality.
Group 2 would be graded on just one pot. They had all semester to work on just one pot so they better make it impressive.
At the end of the semester, the students all turned in their work for grading. To the professor’s amusement, the 5 highest quality pots all came from the group who was focused on quantity over quality. In fact, most of the pots from Group 2 were terrible. They just looked like over-worked lumps of hollowed out clay.
I’m not sure if this relates at all to the way Moxie and Pixie collect acorns. And I don’t know what their way of deciding which acorns to take and which to leave will play out in the future. What I do know though, is the fact that they were both extremely happy with the outcome and with the output. And that’s all I’m wishing for at this point in their life.
P.S. Have you gotten your copy of Charlie & Noel yet? Charlie has his very own story regarding acorns…