Productive Patterns

Nature Rules

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.
photo credit: Lindsay Satterfield

I love patterns. I love connecting dots. I love connections, themes, analogies, synchronicities.

Perhaps it’s because I love order, purpose, design. I find it exhilarating. Whether it’s true or not, I believe there’s inherent purpose – design – in life. And because of that belief, there is for me.

When I teach my Workflow Mastery course or other productivity courses, there’s often someone in the room who deplores systems and routines (go figure). They argue quite vociferously that they want to be free, unimpinged by constraints, free to be creative, not boxed in.

Well, I listen with compassion. I do understand the drive for freedom, because I have it in spades. I do understand the love of creativity, because that moves me each day.

However, I have to speak to what I know to be true (once the person has unloaded their concerns).

Turns out, pattern and creativity are friends. In fact, they need each other. Discipline and freedom are best buds. Seriously. The productive paradox.

For this truth, I let Nature teach. Nature is incredibly ordered, scheduled, rhythmic. Look close up at a leaf or a pine cone. Watch the routines of a bird or a fox. Patterns, order, discipline. They are woven into life. They are the stuff of life.

Do these patterns inhibit creativity? Squash innovation? Predict a dull future?

Not at all.

Take a step back and you’ll see the infinitely inventive ways that Nature relates, adapts, innovates, expresses. That crazy vine that just can’t stop blooming. That unique location for a nest. That over-the-top, relentless beauty of a cherry tree in the Spring. That tumultuous hurricane that draws the seas into its being and travels its own route, regardless of anyone’s opinions.

Nature is patterned, yes. It follows rules. And yet, it is free, creative, unbounded.

The productive paradox.

I believe that pattern and system and discipline provide the foundational strength and stamina to be creative, innovative, flexible.

I’ve seen with clients that when there is no routine, no system, no discipline, they are enslaved by their environment, scooped up by chaos, at the mercy of other people’s agendas. Unmoored. Unanchored.

They tell me they’re tired of not having an impact. Of going in circles. Of not seeing progress. Of dialing it in.

And so, I speak of the power of patterns. Of the right drop of discipline that can free them to do the great work they are built for.

What patterns, what disciplines free you? I’d love to know….

PS And if getting a little more order and control in the day-to-day sounds interesting to you, you might consider Workflow Mastery: The Disciplines of Accomplishment.

Originally published at

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

patrick ow - How I gained freedom, identity, and purpose and I will never live life in fear, rejection, and insecurity anymore

How I gained freedom, identity, and purpose

by Patrick Ow CA

The Home Office| 10 Pro’s and Con’s Of Working Remotely

by Delfina Forstmann

The Daily Routine That Helped Me Write Hundreds of Articles and 3 Books

by Srinivas Rao

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.