#201 Creative vs. Reactive

Choose One Before the Other (If You Want to Actualize Your Potential)

Creative and reactive.

Two words with the same exact letters. Just a slightly different placement of that “c.”

But, alas, that “c” in the beginning of Creative leads to a VERY important difference.

In my 1-on-1 coaching work, one of the things I found myself coming back to with my clients is the idea that we MUST (!) prioritize our Creative work BEFORE our Reactive work.

For most people, the last thing they do at night is check their smartphones. Then, the first thing they do in the morning is check their smartphones. That’s cool if you want to be an addicted little rat constantly reacting to the latest stimuli but not so cool if you actually want to do what you’re here to do. (Just sayin’.)

So, as we defined their most important creative goals, we established the new routine of N E V E R being Reactive before being Creative.

It may not sound like a huge deal, but I think it’s really really really important.

In fact, I think it just might be the secret sauce.

People tend to think of me as a reasonably prolific guy—which, I suppose I am. And, they usually assume I’m working all the time and must be in a near-constant state of rushing to hit deadlines. But I’m not.

I’m months ahead on these +1s and have more time affluence than ever before.

The #1 reason?

I NEVER (!!!) (seriously, NEVER) allow myself to be Reactive before I’m Creative. Every single morning, I start my day with my most important Creative Deep Work right after meditation and before anything else.

Phone is in airplane mode, turned off, hidden in the back of the top shelf in my closet. No email. No news. I’m CREATIVE before I’m Reactive.

A L W A Y S.

Although any one Deep Work session might not be astonishingly awesome, many are. And, more importantly, I consistently, as Cal Newport would say, “accrete” value.

As we discuss all the time, what happens when we aggregate and compound those little gains over an extended period of time? Magic.


Today’s +1. How about you?

What’s REALLY (!) important to you? What’s your #1 WILDLY important goal?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Put in Creative work on that most-important project BEFORE you let yourself go Reactive.

Caveat: We all have different rhythms. For example, my wife “reacts” to our two kids. Or, more accurately, raising our kids is her most important Creative work right now.

Of course, you’ll need to create your own rhythms to most effectively meet your life’s obligations.


You don’t need to roll over and look at your phone first thing in the morning!!

Be CREATIVE! Before you’re Reactive.

But only if you want to actualize your potential. 😃