Make No Mistake, You’re Always On Stage

Recently I went through two very unique experiences both born out of a simple habit I developed back during my days in college.  I’ve always been a sponge for information and love to read…when it’s on a subject I’m interested in.  Unfortunately a text-book on political science or history or any other one of the basics I was required to take seemed to have a profound “tranquilizing” effect.

Despite my best intentions to study, these subjects pretty much knocked me out which is a problem.  I tried coffee however the extra caffeine didn’t seem to help.  Finally in desperation, I came up with the bright idea of taking a walk…along with my textbook. Problem solved.  My neighborhood in college was quiet so traffic wasn’t really an issue.  I would walk for hours at a time reading or studying note cards especially where memorization was a key in prepping for an upcoming test.

text-books

Great for “Insomnia”

I learned to enjoy these walks so much that even after college, I continued to walk in the late afternoons after work or in the early mornings on my off days from the gym always with book in hand.  Daylight used to be a challenge depending on the time of year…especially in the mornings.  However, with the purchase of my tablet a few years ago, that problem has been solved.

Needless to say I’ve received some strange comments over the years from people who are amazed that I can walk and read at the same time.  The most recent really came out of the blue and reminded me that you’re always on stage and you’re always influencing people for better or worse with the simple actions you take.  Remember, one of the most powerful ways we influence people is through modeling.

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few weeks ago I was walking in my neighborhood when a car pulled up alongside me slowing to a stop which got my attention.  As I turned to look, I was greeted by a young woman who said hello and went on to explain that because of me, she was now “walking and reading”.  She said she used to take walks on a regular basis but never thought about bringing a book, until she saw me.  It really blew me away because I had never seen her in my life.

She asked where I had learned my unusual skill and I shared about my plight back in college with struggling to stay awake while studying.  Once I started, I just never stopped and now it’s totally second nature.  We chatted for a few more minutes and then said our goodbyes.  I smiled as she drove off thinking yet again how powerful our actions are for influencing people.

Paul’s message in 1 Corinthian’s 8:13 has become a life verse for me because it speaks directly to the responsibility we have to our fellow-man.

“Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”

The second experience occurred on another recent walk with a much different outcome.   Sunday mornings are my off days from the gym and I typically take a nice long walk around my neighborhood at essentially the same time I would normally be going into the gym at 5:30AM.  In warmer weather, it would be an automatic to bring along my tablet and read.  This morning however, it was a little cold and I opted to just take along my trusty 1-iron leaving my tablet at home.  While not a replacement for reading, the 1-iron provides a strong “dog” deterrent as needed.

I was dressed in sweats top and bottom and also wore my black wool overcoat which felt nice and toasty.  About 15 minutes into my walk I see a car turning around the corner and proceeding down the apartment complex driveway.  It was obviously a police car given the full array of lights in high “search mode”.  I wondered what or who in the world he was looking for…never thinking for a moment that it was me.

2013_charger_police_package

Thank you to our First Responders around our nation who protect us.

The car pulled to a stop about 50 feet in front of me and while I couldn’t see the officer for the lights, I heard a friendly yet semi-cautious “good morning, can I help you”?  I replied “good morning” and asked if there was something wrong.  I continued to slowly approach the car to get out of the blinding lights.  He asked for my ID and I explained that I literally lived in the building about 100 feet to our immediate left and that I would be happy to go and get my wallet.

He said that wouldn’t be necessary and further explained why he was there.  Apparently one of my neighbors called 911 because of a strange-looking guy in a “trench coat” carrying a “crow bar” was lurking around the apartment complex.  I was pretty much shocked at the accusation and asked him “how do you get a crow bar from a 1-iron”?  I had lived in the complex for the past 1.5 years and walked almost daily so most of my neighbors were used to me.

He was very friendly once he saw that the report was completely off base although he did ask for my name and social security number for sake of “closing the case”.  We chatted for a moment and then he drove away.  What a bizarre experience!  I was again reminded of the power of our actions to influence…even to a inaccurate and false conclusion.

The following week I ran into my apartment complex manager and asked if she would like to hear a funny story.  After explaining my little run in with the police officer, she said, “So you’re the one.” My “busy body” neighbor had sent her an email explaining how she had called the cops on me.  She obviously didn’t know me specifically so Courtney, our complex manager, had no idea who the guilty part was.  She thought it was hysterical since I’m about the least dangerous person you could ever meet.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

This post is obviously light-hearted and yet the take home points on modeling and jumping to conclusions are worth remembering.  We influence people every day with our actions and in many cases we will never know the impact of our influence.  While my exchange with the young girl regarding my walking and reading was not a big deal, it still hit home big time for me because I had never seen her in my life and yet I had influenced her for the positive.

Who are you influencing with your daily actions?  People are watching…I promise.

Then with regard to jumping to conclusions, the following two quotes from King Solomon and Einstein help me to stay on track:

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
Proverbs 18:13

“Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance”
Albert Einstein

 

 

 

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My Secret Weapon

One of my first mentors in the “iron game” taught me to keep track of my workouts.  I was eager to progress and took his suggestion to heart and now have journals dating back to my earliest days in the gym.

can-stock-photo-journal-3

Image compliments of canstockphoto.com

There is power in keeping a journal.  Training is hard work and should be progressive in nature.  How can you push yourself to do more if you don’t know what you did in your last workout?  How do you learn how your body responds to certain foods, caloric counts, or ratios of macronutrients if you don’t keep track.

Some people spend a tremendous amount of energy each week showing tons of dedication in their workouts and yet they keep no training records.  Taking the extra step to track their workouts could make a huge difference.  A training journal over time can become a valuable resource which will allow you to chart a course and make so much more progress as you learn your body.

From a safety standpoint, it’s important to change your program to prevent pattern overload.  How can you track your programs if you don’t keep a journal?  Furthermore, how can you know if your loads are balanced unless you invest time charting the volume of your workouts?  Unbalanced loads can lead to strength imbalances and joint problems.

can-stock-photo-gym-equipment-1

Image compliments of canstockphoto.com

Having a specific number of reps to shoot for can make all the difference in the world.  Leg work in particular can be especially grueling and without a specific target for a given set, all your mind has left to focus on is the pain.  I like to work my reps up and down.  For a target set of 10, I will count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and then go in reverse 4, 3, 2, and 1.  This simple little trick just seems easier in my mind than going from 1 to 10.

Regardless of how you work your numbers, having a single specific target to focus on can allow you to block out the otherwise potentially extreme pain to a large degree.  It really is amazing how hard you can push yourself when you have crystal clear focus on hitting a specific number of reps.  Every workout should be about progression…a little more weight…a few more reps….or decreased rest intervals. The longer you train, the harder the progression comes…but you can still move forward…and the “baby steps” will add up.

Having a journal can make the difference in transforming a mediocre workout into a great one.  With all the pressures and stresses of daily adult life, people often find themselves just going through the motions in their workouts.  They physically make it to the gym but emotionally there’s not much left in their tanks.  These feelings are only magnified with no plan to follow.

can-stock-photo-gym-equipment-2

Image compliments of canstockphoto.com

This scenario is where a training journal can propel you to a great workout.  I’ve experienced this so many times where my head was just not into lifting and yet on the first set of the workout, I’ve been able to surpass my previous efforts.  This small victory of just 1 more rep or a few more pounds can literally propel you through the rest of your routine with a surge of confidence.

A common excuse of not keeping a journal is the time commitment.  My take is that if you’re willing to invest the time and energy to drive to the gym to train, you can spend a few extra minutes tracking your programs.  With the advances in technology, you can easily track your workouts on your phone…which the majority seem to be using these days to listen to music or browse the web between sets.  Regardless of whether you go “old school” and actually write out your workouts or take the “high tech” route, the time investment is minimal and well worth it.

While the theme of this blog is clearly centered around performance in the gym, the principles can be applied to achieving in all areas of life.  My mentor Darren Hardy teaches a powerful concept in his book, The Compound Effect, called “Cashing Out”.  Whatever your goal, you have to determine the action steps needed and go about tracking those steps daily, weekly, or whatever time frame may be appropriate.  You either do the work or you don’t and the responsibility all falls on you.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

The power of a training journal comes from combining two simple concepts…goal setting and focus.  After all, according to management genius, Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

There’s another more subtle power that’s tied to consistency.  High achievers in life will often point to consistent effort over a long period of time as one of the major keys to their success.  I promise that when you can flip back through the pages of a journal and see the “blood, sweat, and tears” that you’ve shed, it can provide a far more tangible motivation than what would otherwise come from your memory.  Memories fade…ink does’t lie.  If you did the work, you can always go back and use your past efforts as a springboard on to greater success.

Best of luck in your journey.

 

Resources:

Darren Hardy – Success Mentor to CEOs and High-Performance Achievers

The Compound Effect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Darren Hardy, goal setting, Health & Fitness, personal development, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What Do You Teach a Child to do With a Dollar?

What do you teach a child to do with a dollar?  After all, it’s only a dollar, right?  Well, there are two primary schools of thought.  The first and much more common is that it’s only a dollar, so what does it matter?  The second and much more intelligent way of thinking is to use the dollar as a teaching opportunity that can set the child up with a positive success habit for life.

dollar bill

The are endless philosophies for how to save and invest and generally handle your finances, however I personally prefer and rely on the wisdom of the Bible with an added twist from my mentor, the late great, Jim Rohn.  The Bible contains many verses on the subject of your finances and in particular tithing with the following being my favorites:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.”

Malachi 3:10

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 6:38

Jim Rohn was considered by many to be America’s Foremost Business Philosopher and he’s been influencing my life for the past twenty years.  My first exposure to Jim was through his book, “7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness”, and I’ve been following his teachings ever since.  Jim had a unique way of thinking about handling your finances and in particular, what to teach a child to do with a dollar.

7 Strategies

As a Christian, Jim’s philosophy was largely based on the Bible and he taught a 10%, 10%, 10%, 70% plan with the first 10% going to your church or some other benevolent cause.
The point is that the first 10% goes to help others.  Ten pennies out of a dollar is easy.  Ten thousand out of a hundred thousand is a bit more challenging.  A hundred thousand out of a million could be quite difficult unless you’ve spent your life disciplined in the act of giving first.

If you’ve never been taught the principles and value of tithing and have the good fortune of working yourself into the position of earning one million a year, to think of giving away one hundred thousand, when you’ve never given a dime out of a dollar in your life, would likely prove most difficult. This is why Jim believed in starting small and in the importance of teaching a child to first give to help others.  Master a dime out of a dollar and the discipline is then established for life regardless of your income.

Jim believed the second 10% should go to long-term savings.  Nothing fancy here.  Just start a simple savings account and contribute to it like clockwork thinking for the long-term.  With age and sophistication, the investments will naturally diversify and grow in complexity, however the point is to establish the habit young and through the miracle of the compound effect, a fortune can be attained in a reasonable period of time.

piggy

Jim was an entrepreneur at heart and he believed the last 10% should go towards developing a business.  Now you might think what kind of business could a child have?
Ever hear of a Cool Aid stand?  Jim was fond of teaching children to own two bikes, one to ride, and one to rent.  Why not?  Whether two bikes or two red wagons or two skate boards, the philosophy is all the same.  Kids are sponges and they will soak up whatever you’re willing to teach them.

yellow bike

With the ever-increasing pace of today’s world driven largely by advances in technology, the idea of working a job for 40 years and retiring to live the quiet life is long gone.
There’s so much wisdom to be gained from teaching a child to be an entrepreneur. Honesty, integrity, self-reliance, street smarts, sales, negotiation, persistence, and grit are just a few of the attributes to be gained that can forever change the path of a child’s life.

The secret of Jim’s philosophy is to fiercely guard the 30% and then live on the balance of the 70%. Loyalty to the 30% will enable anyone to magnify the 70% many times over.  To cheat on the 30% to expand the 70% is like killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

The only limitation to a child’s learning is your role as parents to teach them.  Kids really are sponges and will largely rise to your level of expectations and modeling.  The following is one of my favorite quotes on a parent’s responsibility to “training up” their children:

“The goal is not to raise great kids. It’s to raise kids who become great adults.”

Andy Andrews

As for me, I can remember as a child filling out the tithing envelope and placing my portion in the Offertory plate when it was passed around.  Growing up in the church, it’s something I’ve always done and yet it took on a whole new meaning when I started attending Prestonwood Baptist Church back in 2003.

Pastor Graham is fond of teaching that 90% with God is light years better than 100% on your own.  Those same prophetic words were spoken by my Grandfather Coker, now in Heaven, many years ago when he was also a pastor.  And so I made the decision to start giving the first portion of all my income no matter the source or amount.  The results have been amazing and I have been blessed beyond measure.

The ultimate test came when I started my current job two years ago.  I had never made more than $X in my life and with my new job, that number more than doubled.  While I felt incredibly blessed, the true significance really set in when I received my first paycheck. My tithe from the one check would be more than I used to give for the whole month with my previous job and it felt great.  I never even hesitated to maintain the same practice I committed to back in 2003.

Would giving so much be as easy if I wouldn’t have established the habit so long ago?
Who knows?  I’m just thankful for the wisdom of my Grandfather and my Pastor and in my commitment to live by God’s word.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce”
Proverbs 3:9

 

Posted in Andy Andrews, Christian, Entrepreneur, Faith, Follower of Christ, how to raise kids, Jim Rohn, life path, living your dream, personal development, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Proper Posture Really That Important?

According to The Back School, “Effective ergonomic design reduces fatigue, discomfort and injuries; and increases job satisfaction, productivity and quality of work.”  If a proper fit is established between the end user and their job, the musculoskeletal stresses on them are reduced, they are more comfortable, and they can do things more efficiently and effectively.

The very definition of ergonomics is the science of fitting the task to the person, not forcing the person to fit the task.

And thus we have two great challenges.

You may be working in a properly designed workspace and yet without the knowledge of proper posture, you can still subject your body to serious injury.  This issue is only compounded if you’re working in a poorly designed workspace with the same lack of knowledge.  This is a recipe for disaster and a perfect storm for the development of musculoskeletal disorders.

The average person spends more than 8 hours per day sitting, and according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, low back pain affects 80% of all adults.  Low back pain is predominate among workers in enclosed workspaces, as well as people who sit for greater than 3 hours per day.  More than 1/3 of all work related injuries involve the trunk, and of these, more than 60% involve the low back.

Did you catch the stats above?  The average person sits more than 8 hours per day and you’re at risk if you sit for more than 3.  Now you might think that you don’t sit 8 hours per day at your job, but remember, ergonomics and the importance of good posture is not just confined to the office.

From the moment you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night, everything you do with your body is either helping or hurting…and all forms of sitting add up. This means the time at your breakfast table with your morning coffee, the drive to the office, lunch with clients, the commute home, dinner with family, and an evening in front of your flat screen…it all adds up to stress on your body.

The following will focus on the office environment, however the applications are relevant to all parts of life.  And a special note to athletes or fitness enthusiast.  You can hit the gym six days a week following a great program, using perfect form, and still end up with a wrecked body by ignoring proper posture throughout the rest of the day.

So what is good posture while keying at a desk?  I like to start at the floor and work up. Your feet should be flat on the floor with your chair adjusted low enough that you can slip your hand between your thigh and the seat cushion right behind the knee.  The insures that you’re not restricting blood flow to your lower legs.

good seated posture

Proper Seated Posture – Image compliments of CanStockPhoto

The angle from the knee to hip should be fairly level.  There are allowances for a slight forward or backward tilt depending on personal preference.  The key to the upper body is maintaining a neutral spine.  Your shoulders should be relaxed with your elbows at your sides and your forearms relatively level with the floor.  The acceptable angle of your forearms is actually 90 to 120 degrees which gives some flexibility again based on your preference.

What I described above is the least stressful way to use a keyboard while seated, however this basic posture should provide the foundation for all desk related activities.  Any deviation is creating stress your body was not meant to handle and there are three elements to consider:

  • Duration (how long?)
  • Frequency (how often?)
  • Intensity (how much?)

The total of the three is your level of risk.  Basically if you sit like the photo below for a good portion of each day, most days of the week, you’re body is going to be a wreck.

poor seated posture

Poor Posture – Compliments of CanStockPhoto

A functional workstation should adapt to you verses you having to adapt to the workstation.  ANSI BIFMA, a regulatory organization for the commercial office furniture industry, recommends at least two points of adjustment with a workstation.  So if you’re working at a fixed height desk, adding a keyboard tray and monitor arm are your best options.

If you’re fortunate enough to have an adjustable height desk, the desk itself counts for one point of adjustment with a monitor arm being the best additional component.  Even in this scenario, there are benefits to using a keyboard tray as this allows for maximum flexibility with your body whether working seated or standing.

The use of monitor arms can be a vital piece in achieving proper posture.  People using fixed height monitor stands tend to position them on the back on their desk which places the monitor potentially too far from the eyes.  Instinctively this position encourages the end user to “perch” up on the edge of their chair in an effort to see their monitor.  By using an adjustable monitor arm, the position of the monitor can easily be adjusted to the correct horizontal distance from the eyes while allowing the end user to still sit back properly in their chair.

So what’s really happening when you feel pain in your body as a result of poor posture? According to The Back School, some of the primary risk factors for work related musculoskeletal disorders are:

Awkward body postures: maintaining an unsupported static posture or performing an awkward posture such as bending, reaching, or twisting.

  • When working in a non-neutral position, joint space may be reduced and muscle length may not be optimal.
  • In static postures for greater than 20 seconds, muscles fatigue quickly because blood flow is restricted – and muscle substitutions may occur.

Repetition: doing the same motions over and over again.

  • When using the same muscle groups repeatedly, muscles & tendons don’t have enough time to rest which leads to fatigue as well as tissue damage & irritation.

Contact stress: pressure on the soft tissues of the body by tools or sharp edges.

  • This can lead to injury due to nerves & tissues being compressed.

Working on a computer is not a highly demanding activity and yet it can negatively affect smaller localized or postural muscles.  For example, the neck, shoulders, and upper back are highly engaged to support the head when positioned too far forward or when overly reaching to use a mouse.

To reiterate what I stated above, a properly designed and ergonomically correct workstation should adapt to the end user rather than the end user having to adapt to the workstation. Again from The Back School, the five most common risk of working in awkward postures are:

  • Muscles are used in lengthened or shortened positions causing them to be inefficient and resulting in possible fatigue or overexertion.
  • Holding a limb in a static position uses a sustained muscle contraction which squeezes the blood vessels and decreases blood flow.  The muscle doing the sustained contraction becomes fatigued even though there is no movement.  At the same time, the reduced blood supply to the rest of the limb accelerates fatigue in the moving muscles, making them more susceptible to injury.
  • Non-neutral postures can compress nerves leading to numbness and tingling, pain and weakness.
  • Tendons and their sheaths can rub on bone and ligaments which can lead to irritation, fraying and or swelling.
  • Contact stress occurs when part of the body rubs or compresses against a component of the workstation.  Two examples are the blood circulation being cut off by contact with the front edge of the chair or the elbow resting on an arm rest compressing the ulnar nerve.

The key point is that pain experienced from poor posture is not free.  It’s not like having a little headache from a stressful day that subsides once your body and nerves calm down. The pain you feel from poor posture is doing damage to your body that will only compound with time.

Just how much is corporate America spending on MSD’s or musculoskeletal disorders?
According to an 2015 article in Ergonomics Plus, the following is the staggering breakdown:

  • MSDs are the leading cause of pain, suffering and disability in American workplaces.
  • MSDs have a huge financial burden, but the human costs are the best motivation for prevention.
  • MSDs account for one-third of all workers compensation costs.
  • MSDs account for almost 400,000 injuries every year.
  • Direct costs of MSDs are $20 billion a year. Total costs are estimated to be between $45-54 billion.
  • Indirect costs (lost productivity, product defects, etc.) of an MSD case can be up to five times the direct costs.
  • MSD cases require 38% more lost time days than the average injury/illness.
  • Your company needs to generate over $8 million in additional sales to cover $260,000 in MSD costs.

So what’s the solution?  Prevention is the best answer and it really comes down to one critical element.  Your body is designed to MOVE.  It does not do well with static postures for extended periods of time.  If you’re working at a desk with a computer in any capacity, an adjustable height workstation is your gold standard solution when combined with a monitor arm.  Based on your needs, this will allow you to alternate standing and sitting throughout the day.

Sierra_HX_Electric_4

Workrite’s Sierra HX table & Poise monitor arm

If you’re not able to use an adjustable height workstation, another good solution is to utilize a stack on unit that provides for almost the same flexibility as an adjustable table. Workrite’s Solace is one of the best on the market offering ergonomic features matched by few.  For more information, I wrote this post earlier this year which explains in detail the functionality and benefits of this product.

Solace III

Workrite’s Solace Sit-to-Stand Solution

If neither of the latter options is an option and you’re using a fixed height desk, adding a keyboard platform and monitor arm still gives you the needed two points of adjustment to create an ergonomically correct workstation adaptable to your needs.  To offset the potential of extended sitting, you will need to be all the more diligent in taking breaks where you stand up and move around.

Workrite 120 Degree Table II

Workrite’s Fundamentals table, Willow arm, and Revo keyboard platform

 

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Einstein said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  This is a truth I often share with clients experiencing pain due a combination of bad posture and a poorly designed workstation.  Remember that if you’re experiencing pain, it comes with a price and will only get worse unless you’re willing to change.

If you have doubts or questions about your posture or the ergonomics of your workspace, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. As a Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist level II, I do assessments for my clients on a regular basis and always welcome new opportunities to serve.

 

Resources:

One new and great tool available from Workrite is the Lumo Lift.  It’s actually a “posture coach” that will “remind” you throughout the day whether you’re maintaining proper posture. It’s also an activity tracker for your daily steps.  The following is a screen shot from my tablet of a typical day for me with Lumo.  For more information, go to Lumo Lift:

Lumo
For a free download of the following ergonomic guidelines, click on the link below:

Ergonomics at Work

ergo

 

 

Posted in adjustable height table, adjustable monitor arm, back pain, dangers of sitting, ergonomics, Health & Fitness, keyboard platform, musculoskeletal disorders, proper posture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Treasures from Trials

My pastor’s “Daily Word” is an email devotional that he publishes Monday through Friday each week.  The message the day following my MRI reading and the scheduling of my shoulder & bicep surgery couldn’t have been more timely.  The theme was on the treasure of trials in our life.  Pastor said trials can fortify us, prove us, test us, and prepare us.

When I first read the sentence above, I immediately thought of the following which is a life verse for me:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

While I had no idea how pastor’s statement would play out, it was my goal from the beginning to live by the directive of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.  If the only positive that would come from my surgery is my ability to help and encourage others in the future going through a similar trial, then so be it.

Reflecting back now after 23 weeks of recovery, the following is how the trial of my surgery has produced treasures in my life exactly as Pastor promised.

Trials Can Fortify Us:

It’s easy to take the little things for granted until something changes massively that shifts your perspective.  For the record, I am single, live alone, and I’m right-handed.  After my surgery, the adjustment of losing 98% of the use of my right hand and arm was challenging.

I had to wear a sling on my right arm for the first six weeks.  It was a real struggle to learn to do the following left-handed:

  • Eating & drinking
  • Brushing teeth, shaving, showering, and dressing
  • Cooking
  • Driving
  • Writing for the first week only…thank goodness
  • Typing & mousing largely for the first few weeks
  • Building & delivering my demo products as a manufacturer rep
  • Client meetings & presentations

Dropping the sling after the first six weeks was a blessing although I still had very little strength in my right arm.  The most I could lift was my phone & keys…seriously…without pain.  Drinking my morning coffee remained a left-handed activity until about the 8th week post surgery.

My boss was very supportive from the beginning.  He encouraged me to get the surgery done and then do my best to get back in the field as soon as possible.  He further gave me permission to hire labor as needed to assemble and deliver my demo products which is a big part of my job as a manufacturer rep.  While I appreciated his offer, I never took advantage of it.

My job allows me to office from home and for the first week after surgery I pretty much stayed in my office.  Starting the second week, I was back in the field calling on clients. The one highlight was delivering one of my adjustable height demo tables to a client’s office in North Dallas…left-handed.  This included loading and unloading the table from my SUV and delivering it to the 8th floor of an office building.

Demo table

Delivering a demo table to Supreme Lending in Plano, TX two weeks post surgery.

The following week included two group presentations and the installation of our new Solace at one of my client’s offices….again…left-handed.

Solace at Tarrant County College

Workrite Solace – Mounted on an Essentia Adjustable Height Table (Assembly definitely required)

As my work schedule continued forward, I never let my right arm being in a sling stop me. It may have slowed me down…but it never stopped me.

Treasure gained…finding a way despite the obstacles.

Trials Can Prove Us:

While I claimed 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 from the beginning, there were days were I struggled with my attitude.  The gym environment was hard in particular because it exposed the limitation I faced of not having the use of my right arm.  While I was able to learn to do basically everything needed in the rest of my life left-handed, there’s no substitute in the gym.  You’re either training with your right arm or you’re not.  For someone who is as passionate about training as I am, this was hard to deal with.

One morning in particular, I had finished my work with weights and was getting in a little cardio on a treadmill.  I always read either from a book or my tablet while doing cardio. That morning I received a message from Tom Ziglar regarding a story about his Dad.  It was just the shot I needed to shake me up and move me forward rather than staying stuck in the emotional low that I was feeling.

When Zig was in the twilight of his career, he suffered an accident that caused him to lose some of his short-term memory.  For a professional speaker this is a challenge.  Zig had spoken to thousands upon thousands over the decades, and now he was faced with an injury that could have ended his career.  Zig however would not be stopped still having the desire to share his life changing messages.

Zig Ziglar on Stage

Zig Ziglar at his BEST!

So with the help of his daughter Julie, Zig adopted a new style of speaking.  He and Julie would partner on stage in an interview like format where she asked questions and Zig would answer.  This new approach helped him overcome the challenge of the loss of memory as her questions were strategically planned to tap into his vast wisdom.  This interview format allowed Zig to continue speaking for a period of time sharing his messages of hope and encouragement.

The take home point is that Zig did the best he could with what he had to work with.  Zig was a strong Christian and his actions were the living embodiment of the following:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13 

When I finished reading Tom’s story about his Dad, I literally had tears running down my face.  Here I was whining and feeling sorry for myself about the temporary set back of my shoulder surgery while Zig was so committed to following his passion for helping others, that he overcame the challenge of memory loss.  I felt humbled, ashamed, and all the more resolved to move forward and find a way to be a blessing to others through my personal trial.

Treasure gained…persistence in the fire.

Trials Can Test Us:

While a struggle in the beginning, I learned to make a mental shift in the gym and let go of the idea that I was only training 75% of my body.  My right arm may have been in a sling, however the rest of my body still worked just fine, and I trained with same intensity both emotionally and systemically as before my surgery.

Single Arm Incline Press

Doing my best with “75%”

PT at Clair Physical Therapy on the other hand was a different story.  For the first six weeks I went three days a week for about 30 minutes.  My treatment was all passive in that Jacqueline, my therapist, moved my arm in different ways working to restore my range of motion.  Of all the things I’ve done in the gym over the years that were less than pleasant, she hurt me more than anything I’ve ever experienced.

After two weeks, my doctor gave me permission to add a pulley system and do extra work at home.  From the first day I purchased the pulley to the end of the twelfth week were I started strength training, I probably did thousands of reps.  The exercises done with the pulley were a life saver and I really attribute a lot of my speedy healing & recovery to that device.

Pulley Exercise

Restoring range of motion with the “magic” pulley….for 1,000’s of reps.

As much as I wanted to lift again, it was painfully obvious that I had a lot of healing to do. In the beginning I couldn’t raise my hand out to the side from my thigh more than a few inches without experiencing extreme pain in my shoulder.  Further, when Jacqueline would stretch my arm back up and over my head, my reattached bicep tendon felt like it was coming undone.

For someone who’s been lifting now for over 30 years where I’m used to measuring progress in pounds and reps, it was quite the shift to equate progress to inches gained in terms of range of motion.  Besides the pain of PT, I had to resolve myself to the fact that it would take a good year to fully regain my strength.  For someone who is so DRIVEN…this forced rest has been hard to take.

The progress came faster in the second six weeks as the healing continued and my range of motion improved.  I still went to see Jacqueline two days a week and did an extra hour of work from home daily on progressively more challenging exercises all geared at range of motion.  After twelve weeks my doctor gave me the green light to start strength training and after fifteen weeks, he released me from PT completely.

The progression has been slow and as of writing this post, I’m somewhere between 75% and 90% of my normal strength depending on the movement.  The road has been long and yet I’m very encouraged to be lifting again after my extended break from normal training.

Treasure gained…the value of patience. (maybe still a work in progress)

Trials Can Prepare Us:

My only limitations now are in the gym and my strength is coming back slowly week to week.  Every other area of my life is totally normal which is a blessing.  Oddly enough the things I was concerned about in the beginning turned out to be non-issues.  I found a way to do everything as needed left-handed…just a bit slower.

The one thing I didn’t consider was the extra time needed to do everything immediately following my surgery.  Cooking, shaving, taking a shower, dressing, and virtually every other daily activity took longer when limited to just my left hand.  I gained massive perspective over the value of having both hands and arms to do the normal daily task that make up life.

To go from normal to not being able to wash your face with both hands or comb your hair because you literally can’t lift your right hand to do the work, will give you a change in perspective. Then again, I have to look at my trial in the proper perspective.  My trial has been nothing more than a temporary and painful inconvenience where I should fully recover.

When I see people who have lost the use of their legs and arms due to an accident or disease, it is humbling and convicting to me.  Further, the story about Zig above just drives me all the more to have a servant’s heart and to use the gifts I’ve been given to help others less fortunate.

Treasure gained…the value of perspective.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

When Dr. Burns told me that I needed surgery, I asked how long to recover.  His answer was six weeks in a sling and at least twelve weeks of physical therapy.  He also said it would take a good year to fully recover my strength.  I then asked whether I would be able to train hard again.  He said you can still train hard however you need to consider your age and start training for longevity versus trying to be “He-Man”.

Given my passion for lifting and the years I’ve devoted to training, these were not the answers I was seeking.  Fortunately I had the story of what my pastor, Dr. Jack Graham, had gone through as a source of hope, encouragement, and perspective.  A few years ago Dr. Graham faced a life threatening health challenge that took a bit of time to recover from.  During his recovery, he shared that he often asked God to just give him his old life back.

Pastor Graham

Dr. Jack Graham

God’s ultimate answer was “No, I’m not going to give your old life back…I’m going to give you a better life.”  And true to His promise, pastor will say today that he’s in a better place in every respect than before his health challenge first reared its ugly head.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
1 Peter 5:10

I’ve gained my “treasures” as noted above and now it’s my hope for a better life like Dr. Graham’s rather than trying to hold on to or get back to what once was.  Family, friends, and relationships are ultimately the most important things in our in life.  A wise man once told me when I first starting lifting as a teenager:

“There’s more to life than having big muscles.”
Sid

And you know, he was right.

 

Resources:

Powerpoint Ministries (Free access to Dr. Jack Graham’s “Daily Word” devotional)

Zig Ziglar

Clair Physical Therapy

Dr. William Burns – Craig Ranch Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christian, Faith, Follower of Christ, life path, recovery from injury, rotator cuff injury, shoulder injury, torn bicep tendon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Game Few Are Playing

A football game in the NFL technically consist of four fifteen minute quarters and yet the average game runs over three hours due to the start and stop nature of the action.  Add in commercial breaks and the sometimes meandering nature of an NFL broadcast, and its easy to see how a sixty minute game becomes one hundred and eighty plus.

The obvious game both teams are playing is made up of unbelievable displays of athletic prowess and yet there is a second more subtle game being played by a much smaller number of participants.  According to FootballDB.com, the Bills and the Buccaneers were the most heavily penalized teams for 2015 with 143 penalties each.  The lowest ranked team was the Vikings at a mere 88.

Tampa Bay

Image compliments of http://www.zedge.net

All other things being equal, do you think the Vikings may receive preferential treatment from the officials versus the Bills or Buccaneers?  If you’re known as one of the most heavily penalized teams, wouldn’t you think there would be a certain stigma that comes along with that statistic?  To think not is to think foolishly.

There is a game behind the game that happens both during the live action and much more so between the whistles stopping the course of play.  The same players see the same officials week after week.  The smart players take the time to learn about the officials and their families. Do you think a guy who carries a good reputation, doesn’t pick up a lot of flags, and specifically talks to the referees when appropriate about their families and their interest will be treated differently?

Now as a worst case scenario, consider a player who is penalized a lot, tends to get into arguments with the officials both on and off the field…as in the “law”, and is generally not a very nice guy.  How could this player possibly be treated the same as the “good guy” above?

Michael Jordan in his prime was known for the “Jordan Effect”.  I learned about this amazing truth from my mentor Andy Andrews.  Michael Jordan played the game behind the game maybe better than anyone ever.  During a break in the action, Jordan wasn’t just catching his breath on the sidelines.  He was taking the time to build on relationships he had established with the referees.

MJ

Michael Jordan – Image compliments of http://www.youtube.com

 

As a result, a given referee didn’t see Jordan as just Jordan never mind his superstar status. He saw Jordan as the superstar player asking, for example, about his son just getting his start in basketball and offering an encouraging word given Jordan’s rough personal beginning.

This effort on Jordan’s part to connect with the referee’s definitely paid dividends.  Sports telecast used to make a fuss over the fact that Jordan clearly got away with traveling and other violations and yet the fouls never came.  Or at least not with the frequency as other players who had no concept of the “second game”.  Clearly the Jordan Effect was real.

Another story from Andy has to do with a restaurant which employed a simple yet powerful little strategy for taking better care of their customers.  From the manager to the chefs, to the servers & bartenders, they all collectively took on the challenge of learning their regular customer’s names.  Then when one of their regulars walked in the door, it was a team effort to welcome them by name.

Whoever recognized the customer first would be sure to shout out their welcome loud enough for everyone to hear.  The chefs would even stick their heads out of the kitchen
and shout out a warm welcome.  As a result, this restaurant exploded its business over
a short period of time simply by learning its customer’s names and making them feel more like family than just a customer.

Do you remember “Norm” from Cheers?  What was different about the bar the show was based on verses any other bar in Boston?  For Norm, it was the place where every time he walked in the door, he was greeted with…”NORM”!  It was also a place where he could forget about a job he pretty much hated and unfortunately a home life that left much to be desired.

Cheers

Image compliments of Wikipedia

Whether you know it or not, you’re all in sales and have the opportunity to play this game behind the game.  You may not carry the title of salesman or saleswomen however you all sell your way through life every day.  You either sell your wife or kids or friends or coworkers or your clients on your way of thinking or they sell you on theirs.

So if you’re in a competitive situation and your product is basically an equal match for your opponent’s, who wins?  The following may say it best:

“All things being equal, people will do business with a friend; all things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend.”

Mark McCormack

So what does this mean to you?  It means do your homework.  One of the most profound and yet simple truths I’ve ever learned from leadership expert and my long time mentor John C. Maxwell is to “Figure out what is important to people and then ask them about it often.”

If you’re married, you better know what’s important to your wife.  If you need help,
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is great place to start.

If you’re a Dad, you better know what’s important to your kids.  Not what’s important to you about your kids but what is truly important to them.  If their likes are different from yours, you better figure out a way to learn to like their interest.  Otherwise you will never have the kind of quality relationship that could be possible.

If you’re in sales, you better know what’s important to your clients.  And I don’t mean the features and benefits of your products or services. It’s not that they’re not important in general.  The key is whether they’re important to your client.

Dale Carnegie offered wise counsel in his classic How to Win Friends and Influence People with:

“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years of trying to get people interested in you.”

Closing thoughts for my readers:

In closing I want to share two concepts that have shaped my life.  Zig Ziglar showed great wisdom with his philosophy of “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”  For me personally this is a call to serve with my God-given gifts & strengths.

Zig

Zig Ziglar – Image compliments of http://www.lifesuccess.com

Napoleon Hill was famous for his teaching on The Habit of Going the Extra Mile.  Hill’s definition was to render more and better service than expected.  His formula for this was “QQMA.”  This means the quality of your service and the quantity of service and your mental attitude insures that you attract more and more success.

Napoleon

Napoleon Hill – Image compliments of http://www.youtube.com

I’ve combined these concepts into four questions I ask myself after every client interaction however these questions can be applied to every person to person interaction in your life.

  • What did I do right?  Most people tend to focus on where they messed up.  Focus on the positives and avoid the habit of dwelling on your mistakes.
  • What could I have done better?  Here is the positive way of seeking improvement rather than beating yourself up over your shortcomings.
  • What did I learn?  We only learn from asking good questions and then listening.
  • What can I now do extra that goes above and beyond what the individual could possibly expect?  Here is where you really have the opportunity to set yourself apart.

The key to making these questions work is taking the time to reflect over each experience and challenge yourself with each.  This practice can lead to continuous improvements in all your relationships both business and personal.

“At the end of each day, you should play back the tapes of your performance. The results should either applaud you or prod you!”
Jim Rohn

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates

 

Resources:

Andy Andrews
John C. Maxwell
Gary Chapman
Napoleon Hill
Zig Ziglar
Jim Rohn

 

 

 

Posted in Jim Rohn, John Maxwell, Napoleon Hill, personal development, spiritual gifts, Uncategorized, Zig Ziglar | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ever Jump to a False Conclusion?

Every jump to a false conclusion?  People are often prone to forming opinions before having all the facts.  In our instant gratification society, I think impatience has a lot to do with this often destructive tendency.  Further, most people tend to view the world with their own narrow perspective which can often backfire on them.

“Condemnation without investigation is the highest form of ignorance.”
Albert Einstein.

Quik Trip

One day I had a few meetings in North Dallas and pulled into a Quik Trip for a pit stop.  It was close to lunch and the parking lot and gas pumps were fairly busy. There was one car just stopped in the middle of the flow of traffic…just sitting there.  My first thought was to be patient, but after a moment of them not moving, I “gently” encouraged them with a couple of honks from my horn.

The driver did not respond and then I noticed the “other” car’s break lights as it was starting to back out of one of the few handicap spaces.  The car that was “holding me up” was waiting on that one space to open up and yes, they did have a handicap sticker as well. My Grandfather Perkins used to use the term “jackass” and that would pretty much sum up how I felt at that moment.

Quik Trip

Here I was all fired up about having to wait a few extra seconds for someone who’s handicapped…maybe for life.  I felt so bad that I slunk in and out of the store trying not to make eye contact with the driver.  Needless to say my attitude and perspective changed dramatically once I had “all the facts”.

Email

One of my best friends from college has never been really quick to commit to anything and can sometimes be a little slow to respond to voice mail or email.  We’ve known each other now since 1990 and he’s never changed.  It’s not a big deal as we all have our unique personality quirks and that’s just Mark.  Besides, I love him like a brother as we’ve been there for each other both in the good and bad times of life.

Fanchers

Mark and Rhonda with Allison & Haley

A few years ago, I sent an important email that should have prompted a quick reply.
The initial lack of response was nothing out of the ordinary and I thought little of it.  A week turned into two weeks and then a month and then clearly something was wrong.  Let me also say he lives in Colorado and I’m in Dallas so it’s not like we see each other on a regular basis.

In this case, I built up some negative thoughts in my mind towards him and allowed them to “fester” for a period of time before finally picking up the phone.  When Mark answered, he acted as if nothing was wrong and was excited to hear from me.  When I asked about the email, he said, “Oh, I recently changed internet providers and thus my email address and apparently forgot to give you the heads up.”

While my first thought was to blame him for not keeping me in the loop, my dominate thought was more along the lines of the Quik Trip experience above with my Grandfather’s “term” clearing echoing in my mind.  Mark is married to Rhonda with two young girls, Allison & Haley, and has TONS more on his plate of responsibilities than me.

While I clearly failed in this instance, I do believe in taking 100% responsibility for every area of my life.  If I would have lived up to this principle, I would have made that phone call much sooner rather than going through the emotional roller coaster ride of negativity due to his apparent lack of response.

Email II

Sean is one of my nephews living in East Texas some five hours away from Dallas.  We correspond by phone, text, email, and Facebook.  You would think I would have learned my lesson after the experience with Mark above, but apparently I needed another dose of humility compliments of my nephew.

This actually just happened this year where I sent another important email back around the holidays and he never responded.  I’ve heard it said that life will continue to offer you the same opportunities to learn over and over until you “get it”.  I’ve also heard that the lessons get harder if you happen to be a “slow learner”.

Sean & Dylan

Sean & Dylan

If my experience with Mark made me feel like a “jackass”, then the outcome with Sean made me feel like a “jerk”.  You see, Sean is only a teenager and didn’t change his email address.  His Mom is now single and he also has a younger brother name Dylan.  He lost the use of his phone due to a lack of finances as their little family sometimes struggles to make ends meet.  I had no idea what was going on and why he hadn’t responded until he finally did with the following apology:

Hello uncle Kelly, I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond. We just recently turned on my phone and I’m only now reading your email.  School is going great.  I have had a couple of rough grades but I’m retesting and bringing them back up.  Football is going great.  I was on varsity for the last 3 games but this week I may be on JV.  

Lesson learned.  When in doubt, pick up the phone.  Even if his phone had been turned off, his Mom’s was working fine.  I should have acted like an adult and reached out to him rather than getting all bent out of shape over what turned out to be really nothing.

He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.
Proverbs 18:13

Losing a Father & Friend

Lauren Smith is one of my best clients who is usually quick to respond to my phone calls or emails.  I sent a request to schedule a presentation to her group and thought it odd when she didn’t reply after the first week.  Technology can be wonky at times so I sent a follow up message just to be sure and still nothing.

My first thought was that something may be going on with her health.  She had a procedure over the holidays to remove a small and benign growth however everything went great and she received a clean bill of health from her doctor.  In fact I had seen her a couple of times after returning to work, so her silence was definitely a concern based on the strength of our relationship.

After another week, I reached out to her supervisor who I also have a great relationship with.  She was receptive to my presentation and asked that I schedule with Lauren.  Now really puzzled, I sent another request and the next thing you know, I received a meeting invite for approximately four weeks away.  Finally, success, but why the delay?

Now with the assurance that she was working, and from learning from my later email experiences, I called her direct.  After thanking her for booking our meeting, and catching up on basic small talk, I asked as sincerely as possible if she had received my original messages.  Now unlike the situation with Mark and Sean, I had not developed any negative feelings towards Lauren.  I was just confused with the unusual lack of response.

Her answer absolutely floored me.  She apologized for the delay and said she had generally been running behind due to the loss of her father and best friend both within a matter of weeks.  Losing my Grandmother back in early 2012 was the hardest day of my life bar none and yet its still not the same as losing a parent.  And then for Lauren’s loss of her father to be compounded by the passing of her life long best friend, there are no appropriate words to describe the pain she must have felt.

Blue sky with white clouds - digital artwork.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

I tried to encourage as best as I could and yet I felt that my words were feeble considering the magnitude of the circumstances.  I promised to keep her in my prayers for healing that only God can give and then we said our goodbyes.

Batting for Life

Michelle Jones is one of my best business partners.  We had been working together on a project when our client reached out to us both via email asking for a product quote.  As a manufacturer rep supporting Michelle, I would need to send my quote to her and then she would add her margin and send on to the client.

I did my part right away and forwarded the quote to Michelle.  Normally this action would have generated some sort of confirmation and thank you for my efforts.  This time…nothing. After a few days I sent a follow up message just to confirm that she received my quote okay.  I also called her cell and left a message and after several more days still nothing.

My next step was to reach back out to our client who surprisingly had not received anything from Michelle either.  Now I was really concerned.  Unfortunately my schedule took me out of town two weeks in a row and I mentally sort of pushed the situation to the back burner of my mind at least for the short run.

Then I received the phone call.  When my caller ID showed Michelle Jones, my heart seemed to skip a beat with the anticipation of finding out where she had been.  I was not prepared for her answer and was again floored.  She was calling from her company’s Houston office where she was temporarily working while receiving treatments at MD Anderson for cancer in her cervix.

MD Anderson

MD Anderson Cancer Center

Wow!  Michelle is a young lady in her mid 30’s and is for all practical purposes in good health.  To be battling such a serious and life threatening disease at her age was shocking.
Her spirits were high and she was committed to her treatments expecting only the best outcome.  I assured her that she would be in my prayers and that I would support her 100% throughout this difficult season in her life.

Battling for Life II

Julie Jones is one of my newer clients and yet we have developed a strong relationship rather quickly.  She shared with me last fall before the holidays about on ongoing struggle with Gastrointestinal Cancer.  She said is was not curable but that with regular treatments, she was able to maintain a fairly high quality of life.

We saw each other in person for the last time right after New Years and have further corresponded numerous times by phone and email.  We had been working on a little project and I was seeking feedback as to our next steps.  Normally she would respond immediately but in this case…silence.

After my recent experiences with Lauren and Michelle, my radar for serious trouble was on high alert.  Oddly enough, she had a work anniversary as noted through LinkedIn and I sent her a quick congratulations along with my standard offer to help.  She replied back thanking me for my well wishes and then explained that her health had taken a turn for the worse.

The treatment she had been following was not working any more and she had been undergoing tests to seek other alternatives.  Through this process, we stayed in touch so I was prepared for the group message that she recently sent out announcing her leave of absence due to an upcoming surgery.  She was positive enough and asked for all the love and prayers we could collectively send her way.

Baylor

Baylor Cancer Center

The outcome of the surgery was essentially that they didn’t do the procedure.  The doctor went in and determined that surgery was not an option.  Apparently the risk was too great and they are seeking to treat by chemo or other similar methods.  Julie is still in good spirits and I am humbled at her strength and reliance on her faith while truly battling for her life.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

The first two stories above were examples of me jumping the gun and getting all worked up over silly situations.  The stupid thoughts I allowed to build up in my mind were so far from the truth that its still embarrassing to share the experiences with you.

My first closing thought is to do your homework and get all the facts before making a decision.  The more important the decision or conclusion you’re considering, the more critical it is to take the needed time and to potentially seek the counsel of others with more wisdom than you.

“A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.”  Prov 1:5

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”  Prov 11:14

My second thought is on the idea of giving people the benefit of the doubt.  Do you give people the benefit of the doubt?  I have worked hard to make this a life principle to live by because you never know what is really going on inside someone’s heart and in their life.

Until they give me reason not to do so, I will continue in the practice.  Can this sometimes get you burned?  Yes!  However I have been blessed beyond measure as a result of treating people this way when there was some serious struggle going on that I only learned about after the fact.

If I would have failed in this practice and treated them improperly up front, I might have never learned about the underlying challenge in their life.  This has allowed me to take relationships to a whole new level and offer encouragement and support where I might have never had the opportunity otherwise.

“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

 

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