The Entrepreneur’s Conflict Between Creativity and Discipline

File:Piazza di Spagna Rome Italy - Creative Commons by gnuckx (3489789823).jpg
The Piazza di Spagna in Rome, Italy

You can find exact dictionary definitions of discipline here, here, and here.

In these definitions you find words like obey, punishment, and  rules. They describe discipline as an act of willpower, as training, and as a pattern of behavior.

In short, these dictionary definitions of discipline make the idea of discipline sound constrained, painful, and anti-creative.

This ideal of discipline is in direct conflict with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Entrepreneurs Need Creativity and Freedom

Entrepreneurship involves creativity, freedom, and the ability to spread your wings without constraints. Applying discipline in the manner described in the traditional sense is in complete conflict with the reasons why most people become entrepreneurs.

Yet, discipline is critically needed to achieve the creativity we crave as entrepreneurs.

So how do you reconcile this conflict?

You reconcile this conflict by applying creativity to the product and discipline to the process.

Good entrepreneurs are born with the ability to come up with creative products to solve problems. You can’t be a good entrepreneur unless you have the ability to come up with creative ideas or the ability to create the physical representation of an idea .  Unfortunately, as it turns out in the classic Jim Collins book Good to Great, this creativity is not the difference maker when it comes to going from good to great.

The real difference maker in great entrepreneurial ventures is the ability to discover a disciplined process to market, serve, and bill customers. A process that is repeatable, predictable and that creates profits.

However, I don’t think you can have one without the other.  As a result, being able to thread the needle between creativity and discipline is the ultimate competitive advantage. What do you think?

2 Replies to “The Entrepreneur’s Conflict Between Creativity and Discipline”

  1. Great post but I tend to think that creativity is a disciplined process. I don’t think you are born creative. I think the people that we regard as highly creative are some of the most disciplined.

    1. Hi Imani, Intriguing view you have on this subject. I think this is something that must be explored deeper.

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