It is interesting how frequently the concept of being creative is thought of as an abstract moment in time. As if this process is a tap that can be turned on and off at will by the legions of creative-types whose sole responsibility is to daydream the next big idea.

The act of generating creative thought is in fact hard work that starts far upstream from the time that ideas are required. Creative thinking must be fed and nurtured continuously, just like any high value skill set, otherwise when it is called upon the likelihood of success is negligible.

Great creative thinkers make it a pattern to consistently seeks stimulus by being students of the world. They look for inspiration in artwork, music, literature, design process, people, history, information, interactions and other sources of knowledge. Neglecting one’s intellectual curiosity to learn and then expecting sweet serendipity to be the primary delivery mechanism for creativity is an act of blind faith.

Unless you are disciplined in thinking about how you think, the wellspring of ideas is likely to be dry. Serendipity is most often engineered by creating the right conditions for genius to occur.

Creativity plus discipline is the most basic formula for prolonged success in business and most other endeavors. These are not mutually exclusive activities and the high-performing creative professionals know that they must feed their mind every day by taking an earnest interest in the world surrounding them.