There’s a legendary scene from the movie Almost Famous where a battle-worn band some say depicts Led Zeppelin, its groupies and a cub reporter pile onto a tour bus after a brutal night that’s left everyone estranged. Everything, it seems is coming unraveled. Eyes cast out the windows in silence, when Elton John’s Tiny Dancer comes on the radio.
One by one, as the song plays, each person’s mood begins to turn from hardened anger to harmony. It’s not conscious, it’s not planned. It just happens. Patterned responses pent up over years dissolve.
The scene is pure magic. The transformation is powerful. In large, because, at some point in our lives, if we’re lucky, if we’re really tuned in, we experience something similar.
A momentary awakening to the utter lunacy of the patterns we’ve adopted.
And, though it’s taken years to wear those patterns into existence, in a heartbeat, we become unusually open to the notion that we can choose to respond differently. To create a new pattern.
In NLP, this “pattern interrupt” experience is created as a therapeutic mechanism. Applied to commercial settings, it’s a powerful tool to disarm peoples’ kneejerk defense mechanisms and programmed responses and open them to considering a new product, solution, approach or idea.
It’s something the best speakers, salespeople and marketers use on a regular basis…though some may be oblivious to exactly what it is they’re doing that’s getting such good response.
And, it’s something the top copywriters and bloggers do as well. Especially in writing headlines and adding design elements.
Can you tell what design element serves as a major pattern interrupt on this blog?
So, why do you care about all this? Because pattern interrupts give you the power to change behaviors, opinions, assumptions and decisions in the blink of an eye. Yours and others. In business and in life.
They also allow you to better see opportunities that are created on a more spontaneous, organic level all day long and dive into them to open doors and create opportunity.
Of course, the obvious question is – how to you engineer a planned pattern interrupt?
It’s something that usually comes at you as a total surprise. When the famous marketer, Frank Kern takes the stage at his trainings after a string of button-down shirted presenters have spoken, wearing a viking helmet, bare feet, an old t-shirt, wet hair and cursing like a sailor, the normal expectation about how a high-ticket professional speaker is supposed to take the stage is obliterated.
The audience’s normal glassy-eyed, half-asleep programmed response to speakers in a 500 person lunchtime-coma room is gutted. Their normal pattern has been interrupted by something completely unexpected, provocative and attention grabbing.
He now has a short window to continue to dazzle them, introduce new ideas and thread a series of continued pattern interrupts through his presentation to keep them from sliding back into the drone zone.
What about on a personal level?
Try this next time you feel yourself sliding into that same argument you’ve been having with your partner, lover or spouse in different forms for years. Before you get too deep. Get up, tear off your shirt, grab a can whipped cream from the fridge, spray a giant happy face across your stomach, then sit down to continue the conversation.
Go ahead, I dare you!
Guaranteed, you’ll get a very different response. A spontaneous, surprise-driven disarming. And, you can use that reaction as a moment of awakening to the lunacy of refighting the same fight and an opportunity to explore approaching the conversation a different way.
But, realize, too, a pattern interrupt is not a new pattern.
It’s only an event that breaks the stranglehold of the old, destructive pattern, giving you a window to introduce a new one. And, if you don’t take the opportunity, that window will quickly close, leading all to slide back into the same old, same old.
So, curious, have you experienced anything like this?
Have you taken it as a chance to change course?
Because, it only takes a moment…
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