When we think about creativity, we think of words like playful and natural. But there is yin and yang to creativity. Where one side contains looseness, ease, and intoxication, the other side is discipline. Pure, unconditional, and sober discipline. 

Jocko Willink, (former Navy Seal, podcast host, author), has a book called Discipline Equals Freedom (to which the title of this newsletter pays homage). 

“Discipline equals freedom” is his life’s mantra, which he explains:

“While Discipline and Freedom seem like they sit on opposite sides of the spectrum, they are actually very connected. Freedom is what everyone wants — to be able to act and live with freedom. But the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline. If you want financial freedom, you have to have financial discipline. If you want more free time, you have to follow a more disciplined time management system. You also have to have the discipline to say “No” to things that eat up your time with no payback—things like random YouTube videos, clickbait on the internet, and even events that you agree to attend when you know you won’t want to be there. Discipline equals freedom applies to every aspect of life: if you want more freedom, get more discipline.”

And so it goes with creativity. A creative life is always at odds with a complacent life. Complacency wants us to cook the same old thing for dinner, watch a few more hours of television, and sleep in. 

The only cure for complacency is discipline. It’s through discipline that we show up every day, ready to learn and practice our craft. Discipline is how we swim upstream when our complacency tells us to float with the masses. 

Only through discipline can we consistently shake the walls of our comfort zone and reach the highest potential of a creative life. 

Discipline breeds creativity.