Recognizing Patterns

Do you remember learning pattern sequences like AABB or ABCABC as a young child? To me, those activities were fun exercises. Finding patterns was like figuring out a puzzle. If you could figure out the pattern, you could predict the next sequence.

As an adult, I still enjoy recognizing patterns and have come to realize just how beneficial that strength is when trying to understand people, business sales cycles, and any other important process. By nature, I am a “refiner,” meaning that I can quickly see how something is and then think of a few ways to change and make it better.

For moms, a lot of us recognized the “witching hour” pattern pretty quickly. If we were at home with toddlers, inevitably, just about the time that we started cooking dinner and were ready to wind down our day, it seemed like everything fell apart – kids were hungry, tired and grumpy. Some of us figured out how to change that pattern by deciding to make that the hour our kids could watch television. Or eat a snack. Or head outside with neighbors. Or order take-out. 🙂

In our businesses, I have noticed that the weeks tend to follow predictable rhythms. Mondays and Tuesdays are always full with emails, project engagement and meetings. But by Wednesday afternoon, the activity starts to wind down. Thursdays and Fridays continue to decline with professional demands as well. So, for me, I’ve learned to start getting ready for the week on Sunday night, making sure my inbox is clear and lining up the projects for the week. I don’t expect much free time on Mondays and Tuesdays during the days, so I’m not frustrated when the day is packed. I just go for a walk or run at the end. I’ve also learned to use Wednesday afternoons thru Fridays to catch up on longer articles I’d like to read and to write those of my own.

With my kids, I try to keep my eyes wide open to notice new patterns and ask myself important questions. Why did Jadyn start deliberately blinking her eyes all of a sudden? Why is she always curious about all of the details when someone is hurt and goes to the doctor? Why does Isaac always light up when he hears about animals or sports? Why does Gabe gravitate so easily to movie, book and software release dates and is always on Wikipedia when I ask what he’s doing on his phone? Why do they tend to work harder and more focused when I stay out of their way instead of interrupting them with verbal affirmation? Their hearts are so dear to me, so I want to be able to recognize any new patterns to give me a clue as to what’s going on inside.

And with my husband, man, I’ve earned a PhD in Don Dalrymple patterns. I’ve figured out too many patterns to share here. 😉  But here’s one – I’ve recognized that for some reason, he gets very frustrated when I schedule too many things (or even one thing!) for our family on Saturdays. So, after several years, I figured out that our family enjoys the most fun together when we just wake up on Saturdays, see what Don is in the mood for, and follow his adventurous idea. I often have a back-up plan idea, but I never divulge that information until after breakfast on Saturday.

I also am keen to notice patterns in myself. The hormonal cycle pattern is obvious, but less and less predictable unfortunately as I’m getting older! But I try to be aware of any emotional patterns – what tends to get me down or what really lifts my spirits. Then, I feed into those positive patterns like exercising, writing, calling dear friends, or going on walks with Don.

The key is not just to recognize the pattern, but to be able to ask, what thing – little or big – if changed could influence the pattern in a positive way and change the script.

Do you easily recognize patterns in your business, family, or friendships? How does that help you?

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