I come across people like this all the time. I see self-employed people who have wonderful ideas for their business, but seem to get bogged down and discouraged. I see business managers who are ambitious and capable but seem to spend their lives rushing from one thing to another.
The qualities of creativity and order affect each other very closely. You can be as talented and creative as you like, but if you aren’t ordered as well, you won’t be effective. You will spend your time thinking up great ideas but never being able to make anything of them.
On the other hand your life can be wonderfully ordered, but if it doesn’t contain any creativity it will be sterile – just coldly efficient. You will be one of those people who drive others mad because of your passion for keeping things in their place. You will never be effective because you are more concerned with how things look rather than how they really are.
It is impossible to be effective without both creativity and order. Effectiveness is a compound of other qualities, rather than a quality on its own. You could look on it as a measure of how far your creativity is free to express itself without being hampered by a lack of order in your life.
At the risk of oversimplifying things, you could express the relationship like this:
Effectiveness = Creativity x Order
How might this relationship be affecting you right now?
Let’s see where you are at the moment. Mark yourself out of 10 for how Creative you are and how Ordered you are.
Multiply them together and you have your percentage measure of how Effective you are. For example if you consider yourself to be very creative you might give yourself an 8. If you are rather disordered you might give yourself a 4. Multiplied together these give a score of 32. That means that although you are a very creative person you are only working at 32% effectiveness.
Note that you however hard you work on your creativity you can only succeed in raising your effectiveness to 40%, an increase of only 8 points. On the other hand, if you work on how ordered you are, you have the potential of increasing your effectiveness to 80%, a rise of 46 points. So now it is clear where to put your effort.
You may have been struggling for years against your inability to get ordered. And you may regard this as a deep character fault – something which is innate in you and which you cannot change.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Being ordered has little to do with character; it has everything to do with how your life is structured. If you have a structure which makes it easier to do the right thing, then the right thing is what you will do. If you find yourself consistently doing the wrong thing, it is because the structure of your life makes it easier to do the wrong thing than the right thing. You may have noticed that in certain circumstances you are more ordered than in others. Why? Because the structure is different.
Get the structure right and everything else comes right too.
[This article was originally published in my newsletter in November 2004]