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Redefine Your Limits by Being Honest With Yourself
Do you retreat from your ambitions out of fear? Self-preservation isn't doing you any favors, says Kyle Maynard. Confront your excuses and live more honestly.
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: What is one big excuse that you could take on right now, today, and do something about? If you started there what would your life look like in 30 days? What would it look like a year from today? What would it look like five years from today?
And if we took on some of our bigger excuses, can you imagine what would happen inside of even just New York alone, if you had one percent of the population that took on their biggest excuse, what the creative generative effect of that would bring?
Frankly our brain is hardwired to survival, and because of that our brain with any fear that we have or any justification that we make as to why we do something or not do something, I believe a lot of those answers come back to survival. And there's usually a positive intention behind some of the excuses that we go and make, maybe even preservation of our own energy or preservation of self. There's a lot of times where fears are good, rational fears, and there's a good intention behind them; it's just uncovering that and kind of unpacking it, and seeing what's really going on there.
I think for starters I think some of the excuses I make come to mind, in terms of common excuses: I don't have enough time; I'm too busy; I've got too much on my plate; I’m too young; I don't have enough money or… too much money? — I don't know if that's really an excuse, but there's a million: “I’m not good enough…”
But I think it's really actually the more creative excuses, the ones that are a little bit more sneaky and insidious, the ones where we can convince ourselves that they're good reasons. So a lot of times if I don't want to compete in something or I feel like I'm not going to win or whatever, I’ve got some type of fear of failure, then I'll make a really creative excuse.
We make thousands of justifications I think probably, a week. Excuses to me are a mountain, and there's no end to the trail, there's no summit to it. We're never going to arrive at a point where we're completely free of our excuses. But I think the idea is just have a little bit more awareness around some of the bigger ones.
I think it starts with telling the truth to yourself about something. Right? I believe that the extent to which you can tell the truth to yourself about whatever excuses you're making is the extent to which you can be free from it. You have to start there.
I love the spirit of the message of, for instance, of saying something like, “Anything is possible,” but I don't actually believe it. Anything is maybe possible in the future, but at this moment in time I'm not going to go and bench press 10,000 pounds; at this moment in time we aren't going to go and colonize Mars. So you've got these bigger society wide excuses that we make as human beings. You've got individual smaller excuses that we make just as people living our day-to-day lives.
I would say too, for people watching this, the worst thing that could happen is that, frankly the worst thing (from my perspective at least) is: someone watches this and starts beating themselves up over the excuses that they go and make. And if people go and say to me after a speech is done, “Wow you've done some awesome things with your life, but I suck, and I can't do anything,” I go, “Well, you kind of missed the point…”
I want people to know that I am a master excuse-maker, and I know just now how many excuses I go and truly make, and I have to go and tell the truth to myself about the excuses that I'm making now.
It's kind of this idea—and I didn't come up with it—it was Alfred Korzybski in 1931 who said that “The map is not the territory.”
And we all walk around with our own mental maps based on our experiences, maps of the world, and we like to go and think of those maps as reality instead of realizing they're just freaking maps. And they're just up here [in the mind], and some maps are better than others. A good map you can navigate accurately with, a bad map not so much, and we all have our own maps.
Really I would start with telling the truth to yourself.
Why don’t we chase our dreams? What if everyone confronted the daily excuses they make for themselves? Innovation would explode around us. Life satisfaction would soar. Any yet we typically keep a safe distance from our inner-most ambitions. Self-preservation is linked to a deep evolutionary drive that makes us err on the side of caution to avoid social isolation or decimation at the toothy end of a lion. It’s time to tear down these ancient and ultimately irrational behaviors, says Kyle Maynard. Being the first quadruple amputee to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua without the aid of prosthetics, he has lived his life on the philosophy of ‘No Excuses’. Being honest with yourself about what your excuses are empowers you to push back against them and truly live. Kyle Maynard is the author of No Excuses: The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life.
If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.
- Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
- Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
- One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.
Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.
- Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
- The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
- The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
Duke researchers have developed the first gel-based synthetic cartilage with the strength of the real thing. A quarter-sized disc of the material can withstand the weight of a 100-pound kettlebell without tearing or losing its shape.
Photo: Feichen Yang.<p>That's the word from a team in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. Their <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adfm.202003451" target="_blank">new paper</a>, published in the journal,<em> Advanced Functional Materials</em>, details this exciting evolution of this frustrating joint.<br></p><p>Researchers have sought materials strong and versatile enough to repair a knee since at least the seventies. This new hydrogel, comprised of three polymers, might be it. When two of the polymers are stretched, a third keeps the entire structure intact. When pulled 100,000 times, the cartilage held up as well as materials used in bone implants. The team also rubbed the hydrogel against natural cartilage a million times and found it to be as wear-resistant as the real thing. </p><p>The hydrogel has the appearance of Jell-O and is comprised of 60 percent water. Co-author, Feichen Yang, <a href="https://today.duke.edu/2020/06/lab-first-cartilage-mimicking-gel-strong-enough-knees" target="_blank">says</a> this network of polymers is particularly durable: "Only this combination of all three components is both flexible and stiff and therefore strong." </p><p> As with any new material, a lot of testing must be conducted. They don't foresee this hydrogel being implanted into human bodies for at least three years. The next step is to test it out in sheep. </p><p>Still, this is an exciting step forward in the rehabilitation of one of our trickiest joints. Given the potential reward, the wait is worth it. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.
An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.
- 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
- Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
- Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.
The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.
In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.
That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
70 data points and machine learning
Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash
Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:
"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."
The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.
Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."
Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.
Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.
On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.
Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash
Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."
"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.
The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.