Creative Discipline

Part of writing these posts was to find an audience of interesting people doing interesting things. The feedback, the hallway conversations, the snarky comments – keep them coming. There is quite the lively tribe gathering and it’s awesome.   


To get good at something we have to A. identify it, B. figure out what “muscle” is required to make us better at it, and C. form a habit around building that muscle. It’s obvious, but it takes (ugh) discipline. In a world of “average,” the best way to rise above, the fastest way to create progress, is to bring some extra muscle to the table with the intent to drive our jobs and our businesses forward. As Frank Zappa said, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” So – how are we deviating from the norm? 


As it turns out, in a lot of interesting ways. Deviating from the norm of these posts, here are few real-world snippets shared with me in the past week of what friends of the blog are up to:


A colleague is rising through the levels of a story-telling competition and (on the side) learning about hostage negotiation tactics.


A new friend rattled off a list of market history books so long that we could populate a small library with them. My favorite part? He’s got stuff I’ve never even heard of.


A business partner explained how a recent firm-wide tech update messed up my spreadsheet formulas, saving me multiple hours of hapless troubleshooting. Personalized tech support is the best tech support.


A coworker is taking a few days off to participate in Ecuador’s Carnival celebration – as a professional water skier. It’s one thing to go for the party, it’s another thing altogether to be beckoned from a separate hemisphere to entertain.


A consultant explained how he left high school thinking he wasn’t smart enough for college and joined the military. After serving, he got a finance degree with Magna honors, did grad school at Yale, earned his CFA designation, and in his “spare time,” now shares hot takes on the cash position in Oprah’s portfolio.


There’s a misunderstanding that discipline and creativity don’t go hand in hand. In all of these examples, creativity is present in their continuous pursuit of diverse skills. We may have a job at the table, but these people are all expanding what they bring to the table too. There’s the discipline required to be average, and then there’s the discipline required to build the muscle to make things better. Here’s Zappa again (and again and again), “Without deviation from the norm, there is no progress.” And to think that these are just examples from the past few days. As I said, this is a lively tribe, and it is awesome.  


Here’s to bringing your whole self to work, and cheers to all of you around this digital table. Keep sharing your stories and insights. Let’s channel Scott Galloway to end this one. “Life is so rich.”