Sunday, 23 September 2018

C Columns

Challenging Faith: Your Next Must-Have: A Pattern Interrupt

 By Joel Lund

The  Lund  family's  beloved  pet  and  best  “pattern  interrupt”  was  Bronx,  shown  here  in  camouflage  gear.  (Photo  by  Joel  Lund)

When  Interruptions  Get  In  Your  Way

If  you’ve  been  in  a  leadership  role,  you  know  that  getting  interrupted  goes  with  the  territory.  Maybe  it’s  a  phone  call.  Maybe  it’s  a  face  peaking  around  your  door,  like  a  prairie  dog  poking  its  head  up.  Maybe  it’s  someone  boldly  walking  in  on  you.

And  you  also  know  that  once  you’re  interrupted  it  typically  takes  15-30  minutes  to  get  back  into  your  pre-interrupted  workflow.  *sigh*

Yet,  without  being  available  to  interruptions,  your  impact  and  influence  may  suffer.  But  withtoo  many  of  them,  your  workflow  will  suffer.  In  which  case,  your  impact  and  influence  will  absolutely  suffer.

Finding  a  balance  is  critical.  Because  without  it  —  in  our  work  and  non-work  life  —  you  justwind  up  a  perpetually  reacting  hot  mess.

When  Interruptions  Are  Your  Best  Friend

Is  it  possible  to  have  “good  interruptions”?  Yes...when  the  interruption  itself  brings  purpose  with  it.  In  other  words,  not  all  interruptions  are  created  equal.  And  not  all  of  them  come  on  two  legs.

The  best,  most-proactive  interruption  comes  on  four  legs.  In  our  world  for  the  past  7  years,  it  was  Bronx.  In  early  May,  we  discovered  he  had  terminal  cancer;  by  mid-May,  we  hugged  our  beloved  Bronx  and  whispered  our  teary  goodbyes.

Our  world  is  much  quieter  now.  Bronx  was  an  excellent  pattern  interrupt  for  us.  

Not  sure  what  a  “pattern  interrupt”  is?  No  problem.  You’re  actually  extremely  familiar  with  them,  but  not  by  that  name.  Every  day  you  are  subjected  to  hundreds  of  pattern  interrupts,  fromthe  radio,  television,  social  media,  texts,  billboards,  direct  mail,  etc.

A  pattern  interrupt  is  a  technique  to  change  a  particular  thought,  behavior  or  situation.

Common  pattern  interrupts  come  in  those  nearly-screaming  commercials,  weird  image  combinations  in  advertisements,  and  pop-up  messages  on  your  “smart”  phone.  In  marketing,  pattern  interrupts  attempt  to  literally  seize  your  attention.  I  even  tried  with  the  title  of  this  article.

When  Interruptions  Are  Healthy

Uncommon  pattern  interrupts  bring  new  ways  of  looking  at  your  world.  Especially  when  they  come  on  four  legs.  How  is  this  so?

In  my  experience,  it’s  all  about  the  agenda  behind  the  pattern  interrupter.  When  people  call,  drop  in  or  text  you,  they  have  an  agenda.  Their  agenda.  Is  this  bad?  No.  But  the  relevant  truth  isthat  the  agenda  you  are  presented  with  isn’t  yours.  So  the  interruption  requires  you  to  accommodate  their  agenda.

But  what  about  you  interrupting  your  own  agenda?  A  weird  thought,  yes.  But  important  to  grapple  with.

Behavioral  psychology  and  neuro  linguistic  programming  use  this  technique  to  interrupt  and  change  thought  patterns  and  behaviors.

I’ve  written  before  that  when  we  are  stuck  in  our  minds,  vexed  by  a  problem  or  task,  we  are  (too  often)  far  behind  enemy  lines.  Are  you  not  your  harshest  critic?  When  has  that  ever  worked  in  your  favor?

Right,  then.  Left  to  our  own  devices,  our  internal  patterns  tend  to  remain  completely  uninterrupted.  More’s  the  pity,  since  the  human  condition  leans  heavy  toward  harsh  inward  criticism.  This  is  why  behavioral  psychology  includes  neuro  linguistic  programming.  It’s  a  strong  toolset  to  change  internal  patterns  of  thinking,  acting  and  reacting.

Man,  You  Lost  Me  at  the  Dog

Here’s  the  thing  about  a  healthy  pattern  interrupt.  Being  your  own  interrupter  takes  loads  of  work,  and  often  requires  a  highly  skilled  and  compassionate  person  to  assist  you  in  identifying  your  unhealthful  patterns...and  then  developing  bulletproof  strategies  to  interrupt  them.

Whereas  a  dog  could  care  less  about  your  inner  critic.  I  believe  dogs  are  God’s  emissaries  of  balance.  They  are  incapable  of  taking  themselves  seriously.  They  enjoy  a  good  frolic.  They  love  to  snuggle,  sleep  and  drool.  Plus,  they’re  perfectly  content  to  be  with  you  when  you  snuggle,  sleep  and  drool.  They  accept  and  love  you  with  no  pre-conditions.  How  many  two-legged  interrupters  come  to  you  that  way?

More  importantly,  dogs  generally  are  also  incapable  of  taking  you  too  seriously,  except  for  your  anger  issues  (if  that’s  an  issue  for  you).  They  will  quickly  give  you  space  for  that.

Most  importantly,  dogs  will  never,  ever  criticize  you.  They  are,  as  a  result,  the  finest  antidoteto  your  insatiable  inner  critic.  Not  only  will  a  dog  not  “get”  your  inner  critic,  when  yours  is  acting  up  you  can  expect  your  dog,  at  that  precise  moment,  to  sneak  up  and  nuzzle  you  for  a  walk.  Or  a  bit  of  playtime.  Or  just  a  highly  focused  tummy  rub  (the  dog’s,  mind  you).  

You  see,  canines  are  gifted  with  a  wonderful  sense  of  when  your  unhelpful  and  unhealthy  pattern  needs  a  good,  swift  interrupt.  Their  agenda  is  you.  Dogs  take  pleasure  in  interrupting  your  pattern,  most  often  when  you  need  it  to  be.

Go  Forth,  Interrupted

The  Creator  of  the  universe  made  the  animals  around  us.

God  made  the  wild  animals  according  to  their  kinds....  And  God  saw  that  it  was  good.  [Gen  1:25]

Over  millennia,  we  have  domesticated  a  few  of  them.  May  a  dog  be  part  of  your  life.  If  you  can’t  keep  one,  volunteer  at  your  local  shelter.  A  dog  will  provide  you  with  the  best  pattern  interrupt,  one  that  keeps  you  walking,  moving,  engaged  and  grounded.  

Learn  from  a  dog  how  to  be  less  serious  because  you’ll  become  much  better  at  dealing  with  those  two-legged  interrupts....just  like  it  does.  Eager  to  welcome.  Empowered  to  focus.  Ready  for  an  adventure.  Grateful  to  be  cared  for.  And  ready  to  love  without  pre-condition.

Just  remember,  a  canine-delivered  pattern  interrupt  is  much  better  than  from  a  two-legged  “prairie  dog”  peaking  around  your  door.

Joel  Lund  is  a  certified  master  coach  and  business  marketing  expert.  Are  you  a  business  owner?  Check  out  his  newest  enterprise,, an  online  business  accelerator.  Owners  and  entrepreneurs  using  the  academy  quickly  break  through  to  higher  revenues,  with  less  work  and  more  fun.  Download  his  (free)  simple  10-step  guide  for  living  with  more  purpose  and  joy:


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