Former Stanford professor and author Jim Collins (“Good to Great”) recently appeared on the Tim Ferris podcast. Among other insights about productivity, he claims we should spend 1000 hours a year being creative. That’s about 3 hours a day, 365 days a year – rain or shine, in sickness and in health. The productivity must be undisturbed, deeply focused creation of new content.
The most famous story about creativity is contained in the opening chapters of the bible in which God works to establish life on earth. The book of Genesis (believe it or not!) relays some important lessons about productivity.
During the first creation story in Genesis, we discover that God creates ex nihilo (Latin for “out of nothing”). Each day, God makes something from nothing. While we don’t have the original challenge of creating entirely ex nihilo, we can use our minds to invent novel ideas that have never existed. Creative is literally the first thing we need to be if we’re going to be Godly.
A daily practice of mediation or undistracted time dedicated to thought and ideation is one way to get the creative juices flowing. Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter, Square, and Cash App, walks five miles to work every morning. He meditates, listens to music, and thinks. Others pray or reflect to prepare the mind to do the hard work of productivity. Whatever it is, it needs to be daily and productive.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” Our body of work is more than a reflection of who we are – it is the outcome of our being. Therefore, we must be purposeful as we create. We must also be open to criticism and remain responsive. In the second creation story, God creates man not ex nihilo this time, but out of the dust of the ground (Adam means “earth” in Hebrew). After each day of creation God proclaims that “it was good,” but after creating Adam in the second story he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God admits that his capstone project was lacking and fixed it.
Not everything we create will be good or great. That’s OK. The point is that God has a purpose for your life and that is for you to give back to the world all that is within in you. Each of us will return to dust eventually. Therefore, we and the entire world will be better off if you use the breath of God in your lungs to breathe out daily the creative spirit with which you were formed in the beginning.