This thought arose because colleagues of mine struggled to get started without a pattern, a template.

Patterns: they tell us what to expect, reducing anxiety by providing us with a sense of control. Patterns are maps. They produce meaning and set expectations.

Patterns are everywhere. They exist in nature, and they’re especially important to human thought.

Businesses are designed to create workable, repeatable patterns that save money and make money. Computers munch loads of data and tell us which patterns “work.” Businesses make money by following comfortable patterns that are handed down from managers to employees. This is why learning stops when you get a “real job.”

Most of the world demands conformance to patterns, whether in how we live, spend money, make decisions: take it as prescribed.

Broken patterns are a form of syncopation, add or subtract a beat to create intrigue. If I set up a pattern and give you something unexpected, it’s either delightful or scary. Either way, it produces some anxiety.

Life: when you punctuate otherwise routine (dull) parts of it with something unexpected, you generate excitement. A desire to act. The ordinary day is transformed into something extraordinary.

But so much of life is trying to navigate doing the thing that somebody else wants you to do. Not because they have a unique viewpoint, but because it’s an established pattern, which feels safe.

That’s not to say you can go hog wild and do things without thought or intent behind your actions.

Rather, you must establish patterns then thoughtfully break them to create novel experiences. This is, perhaps, the hardest thing to do.