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 www.lindsaysatterfield.com