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Why Many Creative Pros Struggle With Discipline

by | The Accidental Creative

Could a self-described lack of discipline be largely due to a simple misunderstanding of the word?

After a recent talk at a conference I got into a conversation with a creative services manager charged with leading a large internal team of creatives. After a few minutes, he confessed that he struggles personally with discipline, and that he notices the same pattern playing out on his team. While team members typically meet their commitments to the organization, the process is often littered with missed cues, frustration, poor communication, and unprofessional behavior. He said that it’s difficult to get them motivated to rally around the work.

Discipline is sometimes perceived as a “dirty word” because it’s interpreted as pushing through the muck, doing the unenjoyable activities first, and forgoing the chocolate cake for the steamed broccoli. However, I think this is a gross misunderstanding of the word.

Discipline simply means making an agreement with yourself, and keeping it.

That’s all. Nothing more complicated than that. The problem with discipline begins when we don’t understand which commitments are worth our effort, when we make too many commitments, when our commitments conflict, or when we are subject to the unclear commitments of others.

On this episode, we share three reasons why creative pros often struggle with discipline, and what to do about it.


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The intro music for the AC podcast is by Joshua Seurkamp. End remix is by DJ Z-Trip.


Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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