(#367) Understand Your Goal Motivation

June 4, 2017

Create a space for transparency, authenticity, and accountability for yourself.

During the life of this blog, we have examined often the power and purpose of goals.  In addition to the “what” we have looked at the “how,” “when” and “why.”

Last week, when I facilitated an Austin, Texas workshop, I encouraged the audience to consider The Six Ps when it comes to why they want to speak or publish.  The same steps easily apply to other professional or personal goals.  Consider how each of the following may act as goal motivators.

  • Publish, Present, or Perish.
    • In the world of higher education, publishing may be a requirement for contract renewal. In your case, your motivation may be to lose weight or suffer a heart attack; save money or never enjoy a comfortable retirement; or find affordable healthcare or face the prospects of life without basic coverage. Does your goal have a distinctive and critical sense of urgency?
  • Promotion.
    • Perhaps a professional goal will help you advance to another level of development within your calling. Maybe you need to promote a community resource for a specific service area. Or maybe you finally decided that you need to promote a non-digital, distraction-free hour every night for your family to re-connect. When you reach your goal (or while you journey to your goal), what core value(s) does the goal advance?
  • Passion.
    • It might prove beneficial to do a “passion check” for your goal. What compelling emotion or desire moves you in this direction? Is it your goal or someone else’s dream for you?
  • Personal Connection.
    • A young woman in a recent workshop shared with the group that she wanted to write a book about breast cancer. She believes she has a decided vantage point as someone who has experienced, survived, and grown because of the cancer that touched her life. Her passion and a personal connection are twin motivators pushing her forward.  Can you clearly articulate how your personal and professional goal personally resonates for you?
  • Profit.
    • Maybe the pay range for the new job listing caught your attention. Or perhaps the pitch at a seminar on how to flip houses sounded promising. Pause and ask, “Is money the motivating factor here? Will it be enough to keep me moving forward? And will the goal of profit connect with my core values?”
  • Prestige.
    • Some people want to publish a book just so they can see their name on the cover. The ego boost becomes the drive. Do you find that your goal direction connects directly to status, standing, and reputation?

The Six Ps can help you clarify the “why” of your goals.  One is neither better nor worse than others are.  Each item can create a space for transparency, authenticity, and accountability for yourself.


Video recommendation for the week.

Consider the message of this TED Talk about understanding why we do what we do and the impact that has on our authenticity.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#358) “I Don’t Want To Burn Out”

April 2, 2017

How can we raise our awareness, question our assumptions,
and create meaningful actions for improvement?

One researcher found that 29% of American employees say they thrive in their jobs (or 71% do not thrive).  A study out of the Stanford Business School noted ten factors that may be killing you in your workplace. Another source explains that “burnout syndrome” can manifest in three forms: overload, boredom, and worn-out.

What causes burnout? Does the individual hold responsibility? Do poor managers create it? Do we see out-of-work place factors (like family-work integration or financial considerations) creating in-workplace stressors? All of the above? Something else?

One of the early scenarios of my new book gives the reader a chance to confront the issue of burnout straight on and consider coping strategies. While I wrote the scenario specifically for college and university faculty, I believe you can apply it to other professions. Take out the reference to “faculty” and insert your occupation, for example.

You may work in the ideal environment where burnout is minimal to non-existent. If so, I would like to learn about what makes it so. Leave a comment on this blog.

For those who either deal with burnout personally (as an employee or manager) or work/live with someone in a slow burnout, I offer the text of my Scenario #6: “I Don’t Want To Burnout” below. Following the scenario, you will find reflection questions to serve as conversation starters about burnout and strategies to deal with it.  How can you recognize warnings of stress and burnout? What steps can you take to address these issues?


Video recommendation for the week.

Let me set the stage with a quick 57-second video.

For more hands-on introductory videos, visit my video playlist.


The Scenario:

Professor Johnson decided to clear a space in her calendar to attend a series of on-campus reflective practice discussions. Even though this is her first semester as a full-time faculty member, her faculty mentor suggested she consider this workshop. “It will provide you with strategies to become more aware of what and why you do what you do in the classroom.”

At the initial meeting, the workshop facilitator asked the participants why they had signed up for these reflective practice sessions. Professor Johnson was prepared to say jokingly that her mentor made her do it—but as she listened to her more senior colleagues share their reasons, she came to a different and more sobering realization.

Of the nine faculty members participating in this workshop, two said they were present because they had burned out and had lost their passion for teaching. They hoped this might help rekindle their spirits. Four other colleagues said they were in the process of a slow burnout. They were experiencing difficulty connecting with their students as they once had done. They could sense they were losing patience with their students and colleagues. Each said it had become tougher to find meaning in their work.

Professor Johnson took in each of these genuine responses. When her turn came around, she simply stated, “I don’t want to burn out. That is why I am here. I want to learn from you what to do and what not to do.”

Reflect on This

  • What causes burnout?
  • Can we avoid burnout?
  • If Professor Johnson came to you and asked you for strategies to avoid burnout, what would be your top two or three strategies?
  • What resources are available at your institution to help faculty avoid or at least recognize burnout?

Like our professor in the above scenario, recognition can (and needs to) generate questions about why we find ourselves in such situations. How can we raise our awareness, question our assumptions, and create meaningful actions for improvement?

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#356) Are You Listening Or Adding To The Noise?

March 19, 2017

With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

This past week I facilitated a San Francisco workshop examining how colleges and universities envision and implement faculty development.  My session subtitle: What Important Questions Should We Be Asking?

While in the City by the Bay, I had the opportunity to talk with a person who has been instrumental in training thousands of higher education leaders around our nation.  What did he see as a critical skill for effective leadership? The ability to listen and then act.

In Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly, Bernadette Jiwa reminds us “We don’t change the world by starting with our brilliant idea or dreams. We change the world by helping others to live their dreams.”

Ask questions and then wait for responses.  Understand what information you need. Then act.  All require listening. Often mentioned. Just as frequently ignored or drowned out by an overwhelming onslaught of information and misinformation.  With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

We have to distinguish and separate the noise from the non-noise in the world around us.  Shawn Achor provides an insightful rubric for doing just that.  Once we understand and apply the criteria for noise, we have a better chance of limiting its debilitating effects on the lives of colleagues, loved ones, and ourselves.

Ask yourself, Achor proposes, if what you attend to (or what you endlessly speak about) is unusable, untimely, hypothetical, or distracting.  More specifically,

  1. Unusable. Will the information you continuously “take in/give out” change your behavior? If not, you are probably wasting time.

*Example. You follow a particular news story—repeatedly.  The information remains the same (since the initial “news alert”). Nonetheless, you spend hours listening to talking heads give their interpretation. Or you constantly scan your smart phone for social media updates (other people’s agendas). Maybe you spend hours following celebrity stories or the latest intelligence on the NFL draft.  And…the information will have no effect on your behavior. Nothing changes. Noise.

  1. Untimely. Will you use the information, now? Will it more than likely change in the future when you might use it?

*Example.  You get a hurricane alert. It might make landfall in five days. At that point, you have useful information to notice and consider preparations.  However, if you stay glued to the weather channels endlessly for hours—with no updated information coming in—you need to ask what the benefit is other than getting more worried about something that you cannot control and that is still a long way from happening.  And, in the case of a weather forecast, it will likely change a number of times.  Noise.

  1. Hypothetical. Do we focus on what “could be” rather than what “is”?

*Example. I am not picking on the weather prognosticators (really) but do you base plans on the predictions—that may very well be inaccurate.  One of my podcast guests, Neil Dixon (February 2017), has an answer to the meteorological hypothetical.  When the forecast calls for 80% rain, he makes a golf tee time. Why? Because there is 20% for sunshine.  Think about economic forecasts.  How accurate? How often? Noise.

  1. Distracting. Does the information deter you or stop movement toward your goals?

*Example. Your goals relate to your career, relationships, health, finances, intellectual development, emotional stability, and spiritual wellbeing.  How much of the onslaught of information you get hit with (and allow yourself to be hit with) relate to those goals? How much gets in the way of goal achievement?  Noise.

This week consider where, when, and how you can eliminate noise. Listen to your goals and move in those directions.


Video recommendation for the week:

In this TED talk, Julian Treasure suggests five strategies to fine-tune our listening.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#355) Go-Go or No-Go?

March 12, 2017

Do you allow people into your head who would not invite into your home?

Angelina Ahrendts’ (Senior VP @ Apple) letter to her daughters this week offers the following advice:

…Stay in your lane…the path will illuminate itself
so long as you stay present,
open to the signs, and follow your passions.
It’s all related.

Be true to yourself. Be mindful. Be open.

Not only do we need to be present when it comes to our passions and curiosity, we have to be mindful of who we allow on the journey.  Three “types” can have widely disparate influences (if you allow it) on your path.  You may have read about them and encountered them yourself.

The No-Goes. These folks will get in your way, attempt to block you, and tell you things can’t be done like you envision them. They may want to control you. Maybe they fear your progress bodes ill for them. Or they may be fearful and reticent types, always remaining in their self-defined narrow limits. They seem to hold their breath a lot.

The Slow-Goes. The slow-goes won’t out-and-out block you, but they remain so tentative they get in your way.  They may not throw obstacles at you like their stifling cousins the No-Goes, but that wet blanket they toss around your shoulders slows your momentum nonetheless. Happy to plod along, our slow-go friends don’t make much progress; kind of stuck in 2nd gear.  While they don’t hold their breath, you may see them hyperventilating often.

The Go-Goes. Consider these the early adopters of life, its wonders, and ever-present opportunities. They innovate for themselves and for others.  They thrive on movement, experimentation, and evaluated feedback. They risk vulnerability and failure. They breathe deeply and live life.

Caution: Not every No-Go or Slow-Go should be considered an antagonist to shun or anchor to cast off.  At times, each can provide valuable and prudent counsel. A trusted mentor, a wise friend, and thoughtful family members may well have needed perspective you lack.  Listen, however, with all of your senses. Consider carefully.

And we have to understand our role with others.  That is, do we serve as No-Goes, Slow-Goes, or Go-Goes for other people’s aspirations?  Do we help or hinder? Do we encourage or suffocate?

One woman at our gym, for example, constantly provides negative commentary—whether you want it or not—about how dangerous this or that group of people will be for our nation.  Her jaw appears clenched and her eyes remain vigilant and wide-open as if scouring the floor for the soon-to-arrive saber toothed tiger that will enter the front door and devour her.  She shares a constant stream of negativity. A definite No-Go from the perspective of holding an educational or enlightening conversation. Perhaps you know similar people.  Maybe you have that tendency.

Do you want these people on your journey?

In his latest book, Before Happiness, Shawn Achor points out that our brains process millions upon millions of bits of information each day. We only attend to a miniscule fraction of these stimuli. His research shows, however, that we usually attend to the same kind of information and ignore the alternatives or contradictory data. You know, like the people who no matter how sunny it is will always be focused on that one cloud on the horizon. Where we see brightness they see potential—nay, impending—doom.  We have a choice.

This week, pay attention to your goals. Be mindful of who you let influence your travels. Or as I have heard, why would we let someone into our mind who we would not even allow into our home?


Video recommendation for the week:

Sometimes we “no-go” ourselves because of fear.  As this TEDx talk reminds us, it might not be as scary as it looks.  Where is the edge of your comfort zone?


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#321) The Nudge: Everything Sends A Message

July 17, 2016

We take chances, we fail, we learn, we grow,
and we move forward.

 Listening to a TED Radio Hour (June 24, 2016 show) piece reminded me of the power of words and self-talk.  The theme of the show was that to change habits or make changes sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge in the correct direction.  The form of that nudge is critical.  More specifically, how the nudge is presented will have an impact on results.

One of the interview guests, Carol Dweck, noted researcher and Stanford University psychologist, pointed to her research on mindsets.  She emphasized that when we want to encourage (nudge) people to improve and continue to grow we need to pay attention to our words and actions. Sounds simple but the subtleties are immense. Leaders, parents, and teachers would do well to remember that everything we say and do sends a message.

For instance, she cautions that we need to praise the effort not the intellect of a student or employee.  Praising the intellect can (according to her research) cause a person to avoid risks. Why? Because if I fail then what does that say about my intellect that I’ve been praised for? So, I take the less vulnerable route and listen to that little voice on my shoulder that advises me to remain perfect and not bring question to my intellect.  This, Dweck says, is the stuff of “fixed mindsets.”

Image: amenic181 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: amenic181 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

She found that when we praise the process (the strategy, the grit, or the progress) that nurtures growth mindsets. We take chances, we fail, we learn, we grow, and we move forward.

Early this week I was speaking to a community activist who shared her dismay with the obsession in Florida with testing school children.  Everything is about the test and getting the right answers to the test.  Either your right or your wrong—and the consequences can be immense for our children.

Rather than marking something “wrong,” Dweck suggested using the words “Not Yet.”  It does not excuse the error. It actually points out the error—but with hope for a better future the next time the problem or task is attempted. Positive and powerful rather than demoralizing and demeaning.

Think of the impact on leaders and employees when we focus on a “Not Yet” as opposed to a dismissive response to an error. Such a mindful approach helps our capabilities to grow.  This is not fuzzy talk saying we have unlimited capabilities. Rather, this approach helps us to better know our capabilities.

Video recommendation of the week.  In this short clip, Professor and Author, Richard Thaler, connect the notion of the nudge with being a “choice architect.”

Don’t forget the power of words—to others and to yourself.  Everything sends a message. What message do we send ourselves….and what messages do we accept from others? How can you be a choice architect in your life and the lives of others?

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcast (about ex-offenders and resilience).  You can find my podcast series at The Growth and Resilience Network (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts).

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#317) Finding Your Passion Is Just The Beginning

June 19, 2016

Once we discover what we feel is our passion
(or at least, our interest that could become a passion),
the work has only begun. 

One day in class, a thirty-something student raised her hand to ask a question about my professional journey. She was a conscientious student who was searching and attempting to zero in on her life’s passion.  She wondered, “How long did it take you to get to where you are, professor?” I reflected for a moment, thinking of my writing, teaching and speaking careers. “Oh,” I said, “about thirty years and I still have a lot to learn.”

I could literally see the her shoulders slump, her face scrunch up and her head lower and shake ever so slightly from side to side.

She knew she would have to work. Just not quite that long.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth debunks the notion that passion is something that comes to us like a bolt from the blue, a sudden revelation that changes our life’s trajectory; and that once discovered we have it made. She states that science has proven that “passion for your work is a little bit discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.” (p. 103)  I think my student knew about the discovery; had a bit of understanding about the development; but little clue about the deepening. And anecdotally, I don’t think her case is that unique.

Image: dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The discovery part of the passion process comes from Brailling the world. Exploration, discovery, curiosity and interactions.  It’s not a one and done that we will discover with simple introspection Duckworth contends.   This is where “play” can be very beneficial. It allows us to dabble, have fun and sort through experiences.  (I’m not sure we will find our life’s passion/interests by being glued to “breaking news alerts” which are, basically, somebody else telling us what they discovered and why we should care about it.) We have to find our own agenda.

Once we discover what we feel is our passion (or at least, our interest that could become a passion), the work has only begun.  We have to develop it.  Like a talent or skill, we need to engage in, as Duckworth calls it, “a proactive period of interest development.”  We have to stoke the curiosity. When we continue to read, listen, observe, and participate we gather more information. The interest deepens—or we might discover this isn’t what we really want. And the process begins anew.

The final piece of the passion journey, according to Duckworth, comes in the form of having “encouraging supporters…who provide ongoing stimulation and information” about our passion.  This feedback is critical.  I’ve written often on this blog about the importance of relationships.  Duckworth affirms the importance of supportive networks.

The student who asked about my journey had enrolled herself in college to find her way.  Her question of me represented one small piece of her journey—a slice of her discovery path. Her physical reactions to length of time required to polish the passion indicated another benchmark on her journey: she would need grit to persevere and reach her long-term goal.

Video recommendation of the week.

If you have not viewed Duckworth’s popular TED Talk, I’d recommend it. Below you will find a short interview where she hits broadly on the idea of perseverance.

Where do you stand in the discovery, development, and deepening cycles? How do you (or could you) play the role of supportive network for someone who is in the discovery or development mode? Do you encourage the process and joy of play (for others and yourself) when it comes to the discovery phase?  How do you stay curious? What have you done today to deepen your passion? Are your goals, in fact, Hell, Yeah goals that inspire you to enjoy the journey of work and learning?

Stay curious about your development and growth, my friend.

Make it an inspiring week  and H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at The Growth and Resilience Network (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#311) Grade Inflation: Have We Arrived In Lake Wobegon?

May 8, 2016

Grade inflation/distortion has consequences for
self-efficacy, self-awareness, and self-competence.

For most colleges and universities around the nation, graduation time has arrived. Professors have evaluated the final exams, grades have been submitted, and students anxiously await their grades. Or, more to the point of this post, they await their expected “A.”

Grade inflation

The condition that, if you stop and think, moves toward making everyone average.  If “A” is supposed to represent “Superior” or “Stand Out” but the majority of students are getting As, doesn’t that mean that the “A” has become more average than a rank of superiority? After all, if 40%, 50% or more of the students have inflated grades, how do the truly exceptional stand out and how do employers identify the great ones from the less-than great?

Maybe, we now live in the land where everyone is superior.  Doubtful.

Image: prakairoj@FreeDigitalPhotos

Image: prakairoj@FreeDigitalPhotos

Does grade inflation actually exist?

One extensive study pinpoints two eras of high grade inflation: The Vietnam War Era and the Student as Consumer Era (1980s to present era). The grade of “A,” according to this research (and more) is the most common grade now at both four and two-year institutions. A few years ago a Harvard professor “stirred up controversy by criticizing rampant grade inflation at his institution.”

The obvious question: Why does this exist?

While each institution may differ, some of the reasons put forth for grade inflation include:

  • Inflated high school grades do not equip incoming college students with the experience of receiving grades other than an “A.”
  • The student as “customer” mentality where the customer is always right creates expectations that have to be fulfilled.
  • Higher tuition costs are a fact and, thus, parents clamor to get what they paid for (high grades).
  • Student evaluations of faculty—and the use of those evaluations for tenure, promotion or renewal of contract can intimidate faculty.
  • Students have become obsessed with receiving (not necessarily earning) nothing less than an “A” for their graduate school application.
  • Where there is a larger reliance (at community colleges, for instance) on adjunct instructors—their concern for job retention may influence grades.
  • A lack of consistent standards across a department or discipline can create a wild west of grade distribution.

Video recommendation of the week.

In this video, The Economist takes a look at forces associated with grade inflation.

Inflation or Distortion?

But does grade inflation actually exist?  If we follow an economic argument, it does not. In true economic inflation there is no cap on prices. They keep rising. But in what passes for grade inflation, there is, in fact, a cap. There is no grade higher than an “A.” So what we really have is grade distortion.

Time for Question-storming

Whatever we call it, it exists. But what or who causes it? Certain departments? Particular courses? The same instructors?

Interesting anecdotal observation: When the charge of grade inflation is leveled, it generally appears to be aimed at the previous classes or instructors. The finger tends to point to another colleague, another campus, or another school as the culprit.

Can grade inflation be attributed to “academic freedom”? That is, each instructor can establish the best way to gauge and rank progress for her students.

If a student got an “A” in a feeder course and is struggling in the next level, is that because of grade inflation or does the current instructor deserve some scrutiny as well?

If they do not already exist, would agreed-upon departmental objectives, standards, performance benchmarks, and/or assessments help eliminate or prevent or, at least, minimize grade inflation?

What is the connection, if any, between grades issued and faculty evaluations? If a relationship exists, can it be transparently proven? If a relationship exists, should it be discontinued?

What have been the consequences of grade inflation? Does it lead to a poorly-prepared and a deceptively-delivered product (diplomas or certifications) for the future employers?

And will students who have come to expect inflated (or distorted) grades come to expect the same on employee evaluations, salary raises, and promotions? After all, if I got top grades should I not get top dollar as well?

If we believe the research, we find ourselves where more and more students are average and it’s not a fictional town. It has consequences for self-efficacy, self-awareness, and self-competence.

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


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