Whether You Believe You Can or Believe You Can't, You're Right!
Kyle Maynard is a photographer, wrestler, and inspiration machine. Here's how he pursued his passion and helped others along the way.
Kyle Maynard is a motivational speaker, bestselling author, entrepreneur, and ESPY award-winning mixed martial arts athlete, known for becoming the first quadruple amputee to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua without the aid of prosthetics.
Despite being born with a rare condition known as congenital amputation, that has left him with arms that end at the elbows and legs that end near his knees, he learned early on with the support of his family, to live life independently and without prosthetics. Kyle thrives on physical challenges and following a few rough middle school football seasons; he went on to become a champion wrestler, CrossFit Certified Instructor and gym owner, competitive MMA/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, world record-setting weightlifter, and skilled mountaineer.
In 2012, Kyle became the first quadruple amputee to climb – actually bearcrawl – the 19,340 feet to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetics. His 10-day ascent was widely covered by the press, followed on social media, and raised money and awareness for wounded veterans as well as Tanzanian schoolchildren. Upon his return, Kyle won his second ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) award for Best Male Athlete with a Disability.
Four years later, he reached the summit of Argentina’s breathtakingly beautiful and sometimes deadly Mount Aconcagua – the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres, standing at 22,838 feet.
Kyle was also the focus of the moving documentary, “A Fighting Chance,” which chronicled his life and the pursuit of his first Mixed Martial Arts cage fight – which was produced by ESPN Films & SnagFilms and premiered on ESPN in 2010 and can currently be found on Netflix – with film sales proceeds benefitting injured armed forces veterans; and at 19, Kyle authored his account of his life experiences in The New York Times bestselling book, No Excuses (2005), which is still in print and in demand today.
He travels more than 200 days annually around the world to share his “No Excuses” philosophy.
Kyle Maynard: Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” He said, "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else, and doors will open where there were previously only walls." To me that is like a big part of the way that I want to live my life now, is to follow my bliss. And if you don't have something that makes you feel blissful I think that you have to go and take your eyes and look for ways in which you either are passionate about something or that you can make a difference in somebody else's life.
And I think the times that those things intersect are the times for me that are the best. So if I'm doing something that's going to go and make a difference for somebody else but it's also something that I care about a lot myself then I'm most excited for that.
Right now people have been asking me, “What's your next mountain? What are you going to climb?” I tell them photography, because I want to learn that. And it's challenging to figure out how can I use a camera and adapt it to me.
And sometimes I've had some embarrassing moments—I’m at such an amateur level right now, and just because I've gotten to meet some amazing photographers and videographers and I go and talk to them about this stuff, and I'm like elementary school student right now with it.
But I know that I have to fail a lot, and maybe the first 10,000 pictures that I take are going to be basically useless, but the next 10,000 might be decent, and the next 10,000 after that might be pretty good. So the quicker I can go and take that first 10,000 that are just probably going to suck, the better I'm going to be, and quicker I'm going to get to the ones that are decent.
I want to just maximize that time of like that early-stage failure, and that's not even really failure, but it's just like those little learning curves, the learning pain, and then eventually it will be pretty good.
One of the tougher periods in my life when I felt hopeless was around ten years old, and I started just having fears and doubts over what my future was going to look like; just not knowing if I'd ever be able to live on my own, if I'd ever be able to have a girlfriend someday or a job or like any of those things.
It was just a lot of fear and doubt. And actually I think a lot of what loosened the grip on that hopelessness was—I can look at two particular moments and sports helped with that. It was making my first tackle in football, and it was winning my first wrestling match.
In football the guy who went to go and block me had no idea how to block me, and I had no idea how he was going to go and do it, so he just stood straight up and I dove under his legs and tackled the quarterback. First play I got the sack. So I told my dad that night, “I think I'm done with youth football I'm going straight to the NFL now!”
And then in wrestling I lost every single wrestling match for a year and a half, so I lost 35 matches in a row. I hated it. My mom and dad were kind of dragging me out to wrestling practices, dragging me out to matches, and I wanted to go and give up, I wanted to quit.
And even if you asked my dad if he thought that I would have ever won a match, he had been a wrestler and he would have told you no. But he continued to kind of push me to stick with it.
Anyway my dad said, "Everybody loses their first year in wrestling. Everybody loses every match their first year," he said, "but everybody wins at least one match their second season because you'll find somebody who it's their first season, so you'll beat them."
And so I ended up winning my first match off of like a seventh grader - I'll never forget it, just the experience of it looking at my opponent and I could see he was a firs-year wrestler, and I thought, “That's my kid that I'm going after.”
And so we shook hands and all of a sudden—I think when you have hope you start looking for all the evidence as to why you're going to succeed. I think when you lack that hope then you start looking for all the reasons as to why you're going to fail.
And for this first match I started seeing this kid, I'm like: “He's kind of scrawny, he's not warming up the right way,” and then we shook hands before the match and I was like, “He’s got a weak handshake.”
My brain is scanning for all this confirmation bias, but like a positive form of it to go and see all the evidence as to why I'm going to go and beat him, and then all of a sudden I took him down, landed on top, and I was like, “Whoa, this is awesome! … And I have no idea what to do now.”
My dad told me to let him up, and I ended up taking him down and let him up, took him down and let him up and won that first match by like a mercy rule technical.
And that moment in time certainly started to loosen the grip on some of the fear and doubt that I had about my future, of what life was going to go and look like for me as quad-amputee in the future, and I would have had no idea that life could have turned out to be as amazing as it had.
But that's what I think a lot about now: What drives me is to go and reach those ten-year-olds who are currently lacking hope?
Life advice is awesome under one condition only: when it's being given by someone who has truly lived. That's Kyle Maynard defined. At 26 years old, Maynard became the first quadruple amputee to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetics. He's an award-winning mixed martial arts athlete, best-selling author, and Arnold freakin' Schwarzenegger has described him as "the real deal." But Maynard didn't always believe he would have a life like this. He talks us through two key moments in his youth where he felt a sense of hopelessness, and shares how he shook fear and doubt, and found the mindset that has been his path to success.
This video is part of a collaborative series with the Hope & Optimism initiative, which supports interdisciplinary academic research into significant questions that remain under-explored. The three-year initiative will provide over $2 million for philosophers, philosophers of religion, and social scientists to generate original, high-quality, collaborative research on topics related to optimism and hopefulness. Discover the public components of the Hope & Optimism project, and how you can contribute, at hopeoptimism.com.
Kyle Maynard is the author of No Excuses: The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life.
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The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
- Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
- To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
COVID-19 deepens U.S. health disparities<p>Communities on the pernicious side of America's health disparities have their unique histories, environments, and social structures. They are spread across the United States, but they all have one thing in common.</p><p>"There is one common divide in American communities, and that is poverty," said <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/about/leadership/debbie-salas-lopez" target="_blank">Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, MPH</a>, senior vice president of community and population health at Northwell Health. "That is the undercurrent that manifests poor health, poor health outcomes, or poor health prognoses for future wellbeing."</p><p>Social determinants have far-reaching effects on health, and poor communities have unfavorable social determinants. To pick one of many examples, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/09/27/913612554/a-crisis-within-a-crisis-food-insecurity-and-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">food insecurity</a> reduces access to quality food, leading to poor health and communal endemics of chronic medical conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified some of these conditions, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as increasing the risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus.</p><p>The pandemic didn't create poverty or food insecurity, but it exacerbated both, and the results have been catastrophic. A study published this summer in the <em><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05971-3" target="_blank">Journal of General Internal Medicine</a></em> suggested that "social factors such as income inequality may explain why some parts of the USA are hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than others."</p><p>That's not to say better-off families in the U.S. weren't harmed. A <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/poverty-inequality-and-covid-19-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research</a> noted that families in counties with a higher median income experienced adjustment costs associated with the pandemic—for example, lowering income-earning interactions to align with social distancing policies. However, the paper found that the costs of social distancing were much greater for poorer families, who cannot easily alter their living circumstances, which often include more individuals living in one home and a reliance on mass transit to reach work and grocery stores. They are also disproportionately represented in essential jobs, such as retail, transportation, and health care, where maintaining physical distance can be all but impossible.</p><p>The paper also cited a positive correlation between higher income inequality and higher rates of coronavirus infection. "Our interpretation is that poorer people are less able to protect themselves, which leads them to different choices—they face a steeper trade-off between their health and their economic welfare in the context of the threats posed by COVID-19," the authors wrote.</p><p>"There are so many pandemics that this pandemic has exacerbated," Dr. Salas-Lopez noted.</p><p>One example is the health-wealth gap. The mental stressors of maintaining a low socioeconomic status, especially in the face of extreme affluence, can have a physically degrading impact on health. <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=123ECD96-EF81-46F6-983D2AE9A45FA354" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Writing on this gap</a>, Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, notes that socioeconomic stressors can increase blood pressure, reduce insulin response, increase chronic inflammation, and impair the prefrontal cortex and other brain functions through anxiety, depression, and cognitive load. </p><p>"Thus, from the macro level of entire body systems to the micro level of individual chromosomes, poverty finds a way to produce wear and tear," Sapolsky writes. "It is outrageous that if children are born into the wrong family, they will be predisposed toward poor health by the time they start to learn the alphabet."</p>Research on the economic and mental health fallout of COVID-19 is showing two things: That unemployment is hitting <a href="https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/09/24/economic-fallout-from-covid-19-continues-to-hit-lower-income-americans-the-hardest/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">low-income and young Americans</a> most during the pandemic, potentially widening the health-wealth gap further; and that the pandemic not only exacerbates mental health stressors, but is doing so at clinically relevant levels. As <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413844/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the authors of one review</a> wrote, the pandemic's effects on mental health is itself an international public health priority.
Working to close the health gap<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5MDk1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTYyMzQzMn0.KSFpXH7yHYrfVPtfgcxZqAHHYzCnC2bFxwSrJqBbH4I/img.jpg?width=980" id="b40e2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b9035370ab7b02a0dc00758e494412b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Northwell Health coronavirus testing center at Greater Springfield Community Church.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>Novel coronavirus may spread and infect indiscriminately, but pre-existing conditions, environmental stressors, and a lack of access to care and resources increase the risk of infection. These social determinants make the pandemic more dangerous, and erode communities' and families' abilities to heal from health crises that pre-date the pandemic.</p><p>How do we eliminate these divides? Dr. Salas-Lopez says the first step is recognition. "We have to open our eyes to see the suffering around us," she said. "Northwell has not shied away from that."</p><p>"We are steadfast in improving health outcomes for our vulnerable and underrepresented communities that have suffered because of the prevalence of chronic disease, a problem that led to the disproportionately higher death rate among African-Americans and Latinos during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Michael Dowling, Northwell's president and CEO. "We are committed to using every tool at our disposal—as a provider of health care, employer, purchaser and investor—to combat disparities and ensure the <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/education-and-resources/community-engagement/center-for-equity-of-care" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">equity of care</a> that everyone deserves." </p><p>With the need recognized, Dr. Salas-Lopez calls for health care systems to travel upstream and be proactive in those hard-hit communities. This requires health care systems to play a strong role, but not a unilateral one. They must build <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/news/insights/faith-based-leaders-are-the-key-to-improving-community-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">partnerships with leaders in those communities</a> and utilize those to ensure relationships last beyond the current crisis. </p><p>"We must meet with community leaders and talk to them to get their perspective on what they believe the community needs are and should be for the future. Together, we can co-create a plan to measurably improve [community] health and also to be ready for whatever comes next," she said.</p><p>Northwell has built relationships with local faith-based and community organizations in underserved communities of color. Those partnerships enabled Northwell to test more than 65,000 people across the metro New York region. The health system also offered education on coronavirus and precautions to curb its spread.</p><p>These initiatives began the process of building trust—trust that Northwell has counted on to return to these communities to administer flu vaccines to prepare for what experts fear may be a difficult flu season.</p><p>While Northwell has begun building bridges across the divides of the New York area, much will still need to be done to cure U.S. health care overall. There is hope that the COVID pandemic will awaken us to the deep disparities in the US.</p><p>"COVID has changed our world. We have to seize this opportunity, this pandemic, this crisis to do better," Dr. Salas-Lopez said. "Provide better care. Provide better health. Be better partners. Be better community citizens. And treat each other with respect and dignity.</p><p>"We need to find ways to unify this country because we're all human beings. We're all created equal, and we believe that health is one of those important rights."</p>
The rites we give to the dead help us understand what it takes to go on living.
As the coronavirus pandemic hit New York in March, the death toll quickly went up with few chances for families and communities to perform traditional rites for their loved ones.
Shannon Lee shares lessons from her father in her new book, "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- Bruce Lee would have turned 80 years old on November 27, 2020. The legendary actor and martial artist's daughter, Shannon Lee, shares some of his wisdom and his philosophy on self help in a new book titled "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- In this video, Shannon shares a story of the fight that led to her father beginning a deeper philosophical journey, and how that informed his unique expression of martial arts called Jeet Kune Do.
- One lesson passed down from Bruce Lee was his use and placement of physical symbols as a way to help "cement for yourself this new way of being, or this new lesson you've learned." By working on ourselves (with the right tools), we can develop the skills necessary to rise and conquer new challenges.
Philosopher Nick Bostrom's "singleton hypothesis" predicts the future of human societies.
- Nick Bostrom's "singleton hypothesis" says that intelligent life on Earth will eventually form a "singleton".
- The "singleton" could be a single government or an artificial intelligence that runs everything.
- Whether the singleton will be positive or negative depends on numerous factors and is not certain.
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How to deal with "epistemic exhaustion."