Combine Discipline and Creativity for Breakthrough Success

Football – a world of discipline, practice, and plenty of rules. But sometimes, a little improvisation helps a player break through – literally, as in a line of five strong and quick defenders — for long yardage or a touchdown.

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is a proponent of creativity, or adding a little bit of art to the discipline of football plays. In a Seattle Times article , Carroll discussed how he lets many of his experienced players take some risks on the field. The article quoted Carroll from a recent podcast as saying: “Being able to take risks is what gives you the chance to do great things.” 

Of course, Carroll also emphasizes that players shouldn’t take every risk they consider. This is where discipline, experience and planning come into play. Sure, you can encourage your employees to “think outside the box” and be more creative in their daily problem-solving or approaches to complex projects. But you can’t let them simply jump from brainstorming to implementing their creative ideas.

Companies, teams and individuals who succeed take calculated risks that consider return on investment, for example. It’s up to the company’s leaders to recognize and encourage creativity in the right people, teams and situations. Carroll can’t let all of his players make instantaneous decisions on the field on every play. As the leader, he supports creative risk-taking when appropriate. And any business leader can do the same. Here’s how:

  1. Identify employees who have commitment and passion. These employees are likely to be more creative, as well as confident enough to take some risks.
  2. Place creativity in the context of solving a business problem. It’s great if employees have new ideas for the break room, but you want creative self-starters to apply those skills to increasing sales, decreasing complaints and of course, improving the bottom line.
  3. The Seahawks’ leadership and players know that solving a business problem with creative approaches requires a team approach. This means encouraging creativity without initiating a culture of “anything goes.” Everyone in the team should support risk-taking and creative approaches to problems.
  4. Come up with a plan. When you can help employees successfully combine discipline, experience and lessons from past mistakes, with their creativity, everyone wins. Although Seahawks players like Earl Thomas make some brilliant plays that go against the norm, they also make some mistakes. It took years for Thomas to develop the discipline and knowledge basis for his snap decisions. Leaders can improve the chance of success among employees by making sure creative ideas are more than ideas – that they come with a plan for success.
  5. Support and encourage activities that promote creativity, commitment, engagement and problem-solving on the job. Seahawks safety Thomas credits drumming as a youngster with his ability to break form. The music is more free flowing and rhythmic.

Learn more about how to spot and develop successful employees and encourage creativity for individual and organizational success at SuccessFactorsInc.Net. Our Fast Track to Success program walks employees through a proven assessment of their success factors, creating possibilities and committing to their vision and ideas. They’ll leave the program with a completed success initiative and the support of our own team of coaches! Give us a call to find out more!