There is unnecessary conflict between creativity and routine repetitive performance.
Optimal performance is the sustainable achievement of multiple, often conflicting, objectives in the most effective way. The performance can be anything - producing a work of art, dance, the completion of a project in a business setting or generally living life in the world. Regardless of the kind of performance, doing it optimally requires an adaptive approach that balances both creativity and routine repetitive performance.
Creativity enables the integration of elements like knowledge, experience, resilience, emotional, social and spiritual intelligence, project, conflict and change management, process and systems thinking, equanimity and more, into a cohesive process that is adapted to the situation at hand. Creativity is thinking out of the box. It is breaking with the past. It is what creates the vision and beliefs that drive performance.
Moments of creativity are characterized by being awake with a sense of clarity, calm presence, exhilaration, mindful awareness, focus and resiliency.
Routine performance is following a pre-established process. It is the antithesis of creativity. It is based on beliefs, habits, standard procedures, choreographs, scripts, and mental concepts. Diligently following a well thought out procedure contributes to effective performance. However, blindly following it leads to falling asleep (literally and figuratively) in rote repetition.
To perform effectively it is necessary to balance creativity and routine repetition. Creativity alone does not accomplish anything. Consider the artist who imagines a work of art but never does the work required to make it a reality.
Repetitive adherence to a process without creativity leads to increasingly poor results.
The dancer who continues to follow the choreographed steps in the face of a slip up by his or her partner, fails to creatively respond to the needs of the situation. At the same time, there is need to dance the choreographed dance.
Th manager or performer who follows the rules to the letter, even though doing so will lead to failure is not performing optimally. The practitioner is performing optimally if he or she follows the form perfectly with a resilient open mind, experiencing the same sense of awake, unified flow as at the creative moment.
Balance in this context is finding the right proportions of each ingredient. In cooking a pinch of salt may be enough for a quart of soup, depending on the other ingredients and the tastes of the cook and the diners. In life, find the right proportions of creativity and repetition for each situation.
For some people creativity is so highly valued that routine is pushed aside. For others, creativity is feared and curtailed to promote the stability promised by routine repetition. Many organizations, belief systems, and institutions tend to over value routine stability and inhibit creativity.
The challenge is to appreciate both and harmonize them.
To Find the Right Balance
To find the right balance, infuse creativity into the routine. At the same time, recognize the power of applying procedures, disciplines and best practice to produce the material result of your creativity - your work of art.
Creativity within routine means to continuously be open to and adapt to changing needs. It is bringing mindful awareness to each moment.
Take a morning routine of awakening, getting out of bed, toilet, meditation, exercise, shower, shave, do the hair, dress, eat and leave.
Some of the steps can seem as a chore to rush through, skip or do grudgingly. With creativity, each step can become an opportunity for joyful performance - a meditation in action. Getting out of bed becomes an interesting activity. Shaving becomes a Zen art. Eating becomes an opportunity to savor the flavors and the experience of the first sip of coffee or the first taste of whatever you eat for breakfast. Creatively, you may change the menu. Alternatively, you can consciously eat the same thing day after day and appreciate it at each meal.
Performing the routine optimally relies on the skillful application of creativity and repetition. This relies on the cultivation of mindful awareness and the intention to actively relax into the moment to moment flow. From that foundation come the creative moments that set the stage for the next round of performance and the ability to know when the process should be followed and when it is best to creatively adapt.