Discipline: The Undervalued Value

Face it. Discipline's a drag.

No one wants to impose discipline. Be the heavy. Stick-in-the-mud.  Curmudgeon.

Even fewer want to be on the receiving end.

No so the creative spark. Spontaneous. Fresh. Exciting.

Yet, I would contend that the difference between a flash of creativity and a creative professional is discipline.

Consider...

  • It takes discipline to listen, especially when a client expresses concerns about an idea you’ve proposed, copy you’ve written, or a proposed design. The first instinct to defend your work; the more disciplined (and professional) response is to try and set aside prior conclusions and genuinely hear what is being expressed.
  • It takes discipline to produce, especially when you don’t feel like it. One of my earliest hires held a Hemmingway-esque view of writing … ever sure that as she waited, her muse would come. With all due respect to spontaneity, newsletter calendars, blog schedules, and production deadlines are more rigid in nature; to the more disciplined (professional) individual, inspiration is often an active, not merely passive, endeavor.
  • It takes discipline to maintain consistency and voice (build a brand), and at the same time be fresh and responsive. Especially when, in our quest for self-improvement, we come across an enthralling new approach or technique. The flash of brilliance is so powerful and immediate, it's often only the more disciplined (professional) person who will also maintain the long-term perspective
  • Double, or triple-checking your work. Making it to meetings on time. Taking care of nitty-gritty project details, even (especially!) those "beneath your pay grade." The daily opportunities to hone this skill–to strengthen the value–abound.

Unfortunately, I've found that discipline typically can't be enforced.

Like inspiration, it must be engendered…a process that hinges on the individual's own insight, impetus and initiative.

Maybe that's why I so prefer working with professionals.