I happened to watch Charlie Rose’s interview of Jim Collins on PBS recently. (Jim Collins is a business consultant, author, and lecturer on the subject of company sustainability and growth. His books include best sellers such as Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, and Good to Great). I was intrigued by some of the things that they talked about.
When Jim Collins was a lecturer at Stanford business school in the late 80′s, he invited Steve jobs to give a talk to his students. He was extremely impressed by Steve Jobs even though Steve Jobs was fired by Apple at the time. In Jim Collins’ opinion, the reason why Steve Job was so successful after returning to Apple was because Steve Jobs was able to marry discipline to his creativity. That’s right, marrying discipline to creativity. According to Jim Collins’ research, creativity is natural and abundant to human. However, it is rare for people to have the ability to marry discipline to creativity in a way that discipline amplifiers creativity instead of destroying it. Steve Jobs had that rare ability. Steve Jobs had the discipline to redirect Apple’s focus when he returned to Apple. Instead of working on dozens of products, he slashed all but four products when he first returned to Apple. He also had the discipline to enforce practices that perfect the designs and production of Apple’s products.
From the surface, creativity and discipline seem like oxymoron. However, when you think deeper about it, creativity needs the help of discipline to blossom. For example, if I only wait for great ideas to hit me like a lightning blot instead of having the discipline to carve out time regularly for idea generation or the pursue of creativity, then I am giving up my control to increase the capacity of my creativity. Another example, if I have dozens of new painting ideas, but I don’t have the discipline to paint regularly, then my ideas remain ideas and they will not be turned into reality. So adding some discipline to your hectic life may bring unexpected reward.
(If you are interested in watching Jim Collins’ interview, you can go to http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11983 .)