Kyle Maynard’s Pattern Interrupt Handshake

Rounding off this week’s emerging theme of perseverance, I had the opportunity to hear and meet a speaker who is a paragon of determination and endurance.

Kyle Maynard,  athlete, entrepreneur, speaker and author of the book, No Excuses, is a quadruple congenital amputee. Although he was born with no limbs starting at the elbows or at the knees,  he was fortunate to be raised by parents who instilled in him a sense of being a “regular” person who could achieve anything he set his heart to.  Anything.  Now after only 25 years,  his accomplishments — ranging from the personal to the philanthropic — already exceed those achieved by most people… by a wide margin.

If you look up Kyle Maynard online, there are numerous photos and videos portraying him doing various physical feats, as well as delivering various high-profile interviews and motivational speeches.  To me, all of those photos and videos certainly convey powerful ideas that he represents, however, to really connect with Kyle Maynard, you’ve got to meet him in person.

If you meet him in person, he will want you to shake his hand.

Kyle knows that for many people who meet him for the first time, they’re not sure what to do.

Pattern Interrupt

Kyle Maynard does a great job as a speaker. He combines a fun-loving, witty demeanor with a profoundly centered, mature perspective. He backs up his views on life by sharing some deeply personal experiences, including stories of intense frustration, challenge, joy and gratitude.

In one very funny story, he tells of meeting a woman at the airport who saw him interviewed by Larry King on television. The woman expressed awe and amazement at Kyle’s impressive achievements… after all, this is a guy who was a championship wrestler and who climbed his way to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, and yet he did not have hands or feet. After praising him and saying how inspired she was by his story, she suddenly looked at him and said, “Oh, do you need help getting into your seat?”

The woman went on about this, insisting that she had to help this “poor unfortunate” fellow, despite Kyle’s gracious demurral. Eventually he let her to go fetch a wheelchair. While she stepped aside, Kyle grabbed his suitcase and ran ahead to board the airplane.

“Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

– Kyle Maynard

A pattern interrupt is a therapeutic mechanism that is used to break a pattern of thought or behavior. It’s the  proverbial “needle scratching the record,” so that the person experiencing it goes into a momentary trance, and the person inducing it can nudge them into a different direction or state of mind, changing them for the better.

The hypnotherapist Milton Erikson famously used a special handshake to help his patients overcome strongly conditioned patterns of thought and open themselves up to a wider range of possible responses to stimuli.

Kyle Maynard’s handshake provides people with a pattern interrupt more powerful than any practitioner of NLP / Eriksonian hypnosis could do.

When you shake his hand, which technically is his upper arm, Kyle Maynard suddenly connects with you as an “ordinary person,” and his extraordinary strength — both and physical and spiritual — leaves a tangible impression.

There is nothing to complain about.  There is no self-pity.  There is only opportunity… and excitement for possibilities.


About danspira

My blog is at: My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on March 23, 2012, in Learning, Positivity, Psychology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I saw Kyle soon after reading his book in the first year it came out (leaving it to someone else to determine when I must have seen him) and the experience will never leave me.

    First glimpse of him coming out from behind the curtain at the back of the stage caused an automatic identification of a medium-sized dog was on stage. A heartbeat later and my mind went beyond the instinctual paradigm to correctly identify the speaker I was waiting for. From then on every second held amazing revelations of how limited my awareness of how different this human being was, and I had read the book!

    He moved quickly and lithely to the chair at the front of the stage, vaulting up into it so quickly that I was unable to learn how he did it. The assault on my preconceived notions only accelerated as he began to speak. At one point I realized seeing all of him in the chair was distracting, and only by watching the headshot on the large screens was I able to concentrate on his words. It was as interesting hearing what he had to say as it was monitoring all the mental reactions going on in me. A fascinating experience!

    He must have told you the story of his father deciding that at the age of two Kyle had to learn to feed himself in order to survive, forbidding anyone else in the family to help, much less feed him. I remember the women in the audience of 15,000+ reacting in shock at hearing that, and wondering to myself whether I would have seen the wisdom in that decision then as Kyle sees it now.

    There was huge learning for me in Kyle and his story, thanks for refreshing my memory of it, Dan!

    • Great story, Stephen. You mentioned the idea of overcoming preconceived notions: For me, Kyle also had an impact on that part of my awareness which stays in “presentation skills coach” mode, whenever I’m listening to a speaker, focusing on their verbal and non-verbal communication. I was impressed at how Kyle so effectively connected with the audience using a full range of purposeful gestures and movement. I felt like his physical differences “dissolved away” pretty quickly, which tells me he’s become quite the public speaking pro.

  2. Another thing Kyle Maynard said: “When we relinquish control of what other people think, then we can have an impact on what they think.”

    Our desire for control over those things beyond our control gets in the way of our ability to influence those things.

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