Devotion, Not Discipline
A better way for creatives to find motivation
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Devotion, not discipline.
Someone I follow recently posted a short update that they had switched from the idea of motivating themselves with discipline to, instead, focusing on devotion to their craft. This idea immediately struck a chord with me.
Our society glorifies discipline. And I, myself, have, in the past, recommended a sort of extreme discipline to artists in their marketing (and creative) efforts.
I believed what separated the successful from the unsuccessful was discipline. And there is some truth to that. We all must perform tasks, in business and in life, that we don't want to do. And often, those who force themselves to power through these tasks achieve more than those who can’t muster such discipline.
Discipline is often necessary to push us through those times when there are things that need doing, and our drive to do them is low. So, while discipline definitely has its place, I’ve come to believe that discipline is best saved for when it is truly needed. Like a precious resource, save it up and use it during those short sprints when there is some work that absolutely must get done, even if you are uninspired. But discipline’s weakness is that it can't truly sustain you long term. Like willpower, discipline takes energy. And, if relied upon too long, at least in creative work, it will hollow you out eventually. It may take years and years, but at some point you’ll burn out. I know because I’ve been there.
It is a rare person who can sustain long term discipline in an area he or she despises, or even simply doesn't enjoy. In a sense, discipline without devotion is torture. To proceed only from discipline, especially for the long run, runs the risk of smothering our true selves so thoroughly that we aren’t sure who we are anymore.
Devotion, on the other hand, doesn't require us to tap our discipline in the traditional sense. Because devotion reintroduces the element of play and joy into our work, and we approach our work not simply out of duty, but out of love for the craft. Devotion gives us energy. With devotion, we are operating at a higher metaphorical power level.
This idea tracks with my evolved view of the creative act as a sacred act. As a holy act. As a way of “worshipping” the ultimate Creation, reality. And the word "devotion" perfectly captures some of the ideas that I've been trying to share both here, on Clinsights, and in our artist newsletter at The BoldBrush Letter.
When one is devoted to their craft, one will master it. Because when the motivation is devotion, you proceed from love. You enter that special zone of flow that the Universe created for you to enjoy. You will feel a sense of satisfaction in your work. One who is devoted to their daily acts, at least devoted to the central acts necessary to thrive in their field, will uncover The Sovereign Artist within and will find joy.
As for me, I am devoted to creating (both through entrepreneurship and art forms). I am devoted to writing. I am devoted to sharing art, ideas, inspiration and beauty with other beautiful, creative people on this earth. And with that, you have read my daily devotional.
“People think I'm disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.” ― Luciano Pavarotti
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