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Can creativity and discipline live in the same house?

Sridhar Ramanathan also blogs at www.ideasrs.com.

What comes to your mind when I utter the word “Creativity”?


 Let us check what happens with discipline.



The two seem like irreconcilable opposites.

Scene 1

Now I imagined a world with creativity but no discipline – how life would be.

I would have a lot of freedom. Lots of fun. Do what I like, when I like. No one can order me around. It feels great when I enjoy  all these.

But then every one around me too will enjoy these same benefits of creativity without discipline.

How will that affect me? Will I like that?

I go to a restaurant. There is no one to take my order.  So I go to the kitchen. The chef is busy practising on his guitar. His assistant is in deep meditation. The two waiters are playing chess.

I ask the chef about the menu and he says, “I have not made up my mind. I want to do something different.”

“When will I get something to eat?”

“It all depends…. on when I decide. After that, we will buy the necessary things..”

“Will it take a couple of hours?”

“Maybe more..”

“Should I go somewhere else..?”

“It is your choice, sir.”

“Thank you.”

“Have a nice day. Hope you get something to eat fast.”


Scene 2

Let’s stick with the food analogy and consider a world with only discipline and no creativity.

I come home. My mother is waiting for me. I tell her I am hungry. She is ready to serve me lunch. I sit at the dining table. There is dal, rice, some bhindi and some roti.

“Mom, again the same thing?”

“Bhindi is good for you.”

“I don’t want bhindi every day.”

“This week is bhindi week.”

“What about the dal?”

“I have made it for the whole week. I save a lot of time this way. For the next week, I will make what you want.”

“It will be the same for the whole week?”

“Yes. That is the most efficient way.”

“But it is the most boring thing to do.”


Luckily, life is a happy mix of both. There is space for creativity and there is space for discipline.


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Sridhar Ramanathan is the Founder of IDEASRS, where he is also a Strategic Innovation Coach. Sridhar’s mission in life is “to help those who want to do things better and differently”. His work involves conducting creative problem solving workshops for clients, and buidling competencies in creativity and innovation. He also blogs at www.ideasrs.com.

7 thoughts on “Can creativity and discipline live in the same house?

  1. Suresh Rajagopal

    Well thought about. You are creative and have remained disciplined too. Creativity in my opinion is about connecting elements which are unconnected in reality. Discipline is all about remaining focused on one’s goals without succumbing to temptations of any kind. In creativity there are always temptations and there is more need for discipline. Regards.

  2. umesh bapat

    I fully agree it is creativity and discipline . The perception is that these do not go together.This is because of limited view of discipline. The greatest creative singers/painters all had discipline in their trade. For attention if some people do not observe accepted codes of dressing or conduct i do not think it has to with creativity. Teaching to be creative and effective one does not mean one has to leave discipline.

  3. Sudha Kumar

    Succinct yet gets the message across so well. The use of examples is a very good idea. Great post Sridhar.

  4. Ramya

    Sridhar, the discipline that you refer to – is one that comes from within the person, surely, and not one that is imposed?


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