Taking On The Challenge

May 7, 2018 at 5:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Just over a week ago I got the opportunity to have a quick trip up to one of my happy places. The Blue Mountains have always felt like a second home, I’ve been so fortunate right throughout my life to spend time there with family and friends. Nowadays trips also include amazing adventures with some great people who live up there (like I’ve written about in the past, climbing, abseiling and canyoning). The week before provided another great example of challenging myself, while also getting playful with a particular challenge that I set for my friend.

“Don’t limit your challenges; challenge your limits.” – Jerry Dunn

I’m the least experienced climber out of the four of us (if you don’t take into account their 8 month old baby who came with us the other week – see photo below). So for me the challenge we’re navigating can feel amplified on these adventure days. But I’m always inspired by what I’m actually capable of doing with the support of friends who first of all have incredible expertise. Then secondly, who believe so much in my potential (even when at certain times I may be doubting it). And then really importantly, see success through a lens of courageously stretching comfort zones, putting in effort and celebrating growth. It’s such a privilege to spend time with people like that.

“Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

So now to the picture above, this is where the playful challenge comes in for my friend. The 25m climb we were doing was new to me, but was one my friend had done many times before. You may notice he’s only got one shoe on, sorry Marty. What you may not be able to see is the blindfold he’s also wearing. As I belayed I was in awe of the way he was open to the challenge, navigated safely the ups and downs that he encountered along the way, and then reflected on what this new experience had taught him once he returned back down to the ground. A challenge is always an opportunity, if we choose to embrace it in that way.

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey

These adventure days always remind me of the importance of challenge within our journeys of potential. They also always remind of how important continuing to be a participant is when you’re a facilitator. If I’m hoping to foster choosing courage over comfort within our programs, then I have to also be reflecting on, practicing and celebrating those skills, attitudes and behaviours within my own life as well. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically with my friends again in the Blue Mountains. I wonder what challenge I’ll have to be open to then.

“We don’t grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges.” – Joyce Meyer

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Which Question?

April 29, 2018 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love asking questions. The potential responses they open up, the responses themselves and the subsequent questions inspired by those responses give me such a buzz. I tell this to participants all the time, I’m a full bodied learner. On many occasions the buzz created within me by questions and responses becomes visible so others can see it as well. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.” – Lou Holtz

About a month ago a friend and I spent the weekend on the Royal Coast Walk, camping overnight at the picturesque North Era. It was all up about 30km walking over the two days, so there was plenty of time for questions and responses. We had great conversations around a number of areas but it was one particular question I asked my friend that’s had me asking a lot of other people the same question since. ‘What is the most important or valuable question that you ask yourself or others each day?’

“We live in worlds our questions create.” – David Cooperrider

I loved his response. It was a work related one for him, with its perceived simplicity getting me hooked straight away. My friend shared the potential gateway his question opens up to so many positive, connection filled and empowering thoughts, words and actions for their students that can follow because of it. Within lives an invitation to get playful, curious and engage with self, others and the world around them. I love the power of questions.

“Questions are the engines of intellect – the cerebral machines that convert energy to motion, and curiosity into controlled inquiry.” – David Hackett Fischer

It’s been so much fun asking many people this question over the past month. There’s been such a variety of responses, and a million subsequent questions arising from those responses. There have been some similarities of course, but mainly it’s opened up for me a greater understanding of what uniquely makes each individual tick. It’s such a privilege to listen. So what would your response be? There’s no right or wrong, just an opportunity to reflect on what role questions play within your individual and shared journey of potential.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” – Albert Einstein

 

How Important is the Spirit of the Game?

April 23, 2018 at 5:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Listening to someone share their passion can be such a joy. Time can almost stand still in those moments as you get swept up in the depth of connection that person has to their particular interest. And when it’s also resonating with those around the person sharing, well that’s where great conversations, engagement and learning really live. One particular example of this from last week still has me buzzing.

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” – Howard Schultz

The passion was Ultimate Frisbee. The person sharing was one inspiring 18 year old girl. As she spoke more and more questions began flying around from the group as we pulled apart and got playful with what had each of our curiosities piquing. One central theme had hooked me though. The deep respect for and intentional processes created to support embodying the Spirit of the Game. Whether it be before the game, within the game or after the game. To be honest, from what I was hearing it felt like it rippled right throughout a players life.

“Your opponent is your partner, not your enemy. Honor him and the game by giving him the respect of your best effort. Together, push each other to play the game as well as you can play it so that when it’s over, no matter who wins, both of you can be proud of the excellence your competition created.” – Matt Weiss, Shady Side Academy Boys Division II

No umpires or referees. Advisors strategically placed around the field who can be called on for their perspective if it’s required. The ability to in an empowering way make known when you feel possession has been impacted in a way that’s outside of the rules. Then the ability to in an empowering way challenge that call that’s been made against you. Processes that support the constructive and effective resolution to these calls or challenges. The list could go on and on. But then I heard about Spirit Captains and Spirit Time Outs and the game transformed. It reminded me of what true leadership looks, sounds and feels like.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

How often in sport, work, learning or our home environments do we feel ours or others thoughts, words or actions shift or slip away but we haven’t established the processes to purposefully pause, connect and realign to what’s most important? How often do we separate, isolate and exclude ourselves or others as we navigate the inevitable challenges, conflicts and misunderstandings that have to be navigated? How often do we feel that we’d love to be able to live up to our individual and shared code (values that guide our purposeful thoughts, words and actions that allow us to make a difference in our own and others lives) but winning has got to take precedent as that’s what success is? So many thoughts came to mind as I listened and asked questions last week, and subsequently have pondered it since.

“The real goal of what we’re doing is to have a positive impact on the world.” – Ed Catmull

I loved that there were Spirit Captains. Leaders who not only can make a difference within their own team when it comes to embodying the Spirit of the Game, but also when interacting with the other team’s Spirit Captain when a Spirit Time Out is called. I loved that when a Spirit Time Out is called both teams circle up in the middle of the field when the conversation is being had. Not one team on each side of the circle, instead all players intentionally intermixed to represent what they know to be true. I loved the emphasis on the Spirit of the Game. They’ve worked out their why, and it’s definitely bigger than winning and losing. Nothing is perfect, that’s for sure, but there was plenty to love from what I was listening to last week.

“Leaders have three fundamental responsibilities: They craft a vision, they build alignment, and they champion execution.” – The Work of Leaders

 

In Partnership With

May 1, 2017 at 7:53 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Last Friday we woke up to the most beautiful blue skies. We set up for our Camp Adventure Day experience at the most beautiful sea side park location. And we welcomed the most beautiful Year 3 and 4 students into an action packed program that explored the role of resilience in our journeys of potential. What a great day it was! The photo above is of some of the participants from the red group challenging themselves and having so much fun on the rock climbing wall.

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” – James Cash Penney

As the day progressed I started thinking about how being in partnership with multiple individuals and groups made the day even more special. The rock climbing wall is from a company who we are able to partner with if one of our client schools wants to add this to the experience. Council are always so accomodating with the use of public spaces that support the requirements and outcomes of a particular program day. And of course working in partnership with the client school and participants fosters the incredible relationships we enjoy with them.

“We cannot accomplish all that we need to do without working together.” – Bill Richardson

We are just so privileged to be able to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically together with those who we are in partnership with. The feedback the accompanying teachers on the day left us with (below) highlights this interconnectedness best. Whether it’s school, home, local community or us as external providers, we all want the same thing. To see that the students have the opportunity to be engaged, challenged and inspired so that they can continue to grow, learn and make a difference.

“This always proves to be an excellent character building program. It is very well received and appreciated by parents. The local community find the program interesting and we get many positive comments on the day. Great job Cameron – we always love working with you and your team.” – Stage 2 Teacher

The Spark

February 20, 2017 at 6:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Not only was this past week full of amazing participants, but it was also full of amazing conversations. We are so very grateful for the depth of connection we’ve been privileged to foster within our client schools as we are welcomed so warmly into each unique learning environment. I love the conversations that I have with the Principals, Assistant Principals and teachers who I interact with during a program day. These conversations open up the pathways to most effectively journey together towards the vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’.

“To embark on the journey towards your goals and dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli

One of the conversations this week that left me feeling so inspired was with an Assistant Principal within one of our client schools. Throughout the day we had the opportunity to discuss many things. One is how I will be assisting the school to empower a group of Year 6 leaders to build their own learning experiences that they will then deliver for the rest of the cohort within a new Ambassadors Program. Another involved the potential of facilitating a Professional Learning experience this year for their staff at the school, as well as another day for all the staff involved in the network of schools their connected to who come together once a year. But the most inspiring part came when she explained an innovative program they developed last year and the ripples they are now experiencing from it.

“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” – Thomas Jeffersom

After noticing on their school camp that other schools who do bikes head off around the bushtrack at the Centre, compared to their own group staying in a controlled setting, this Assistant Principal enquired why. They use this camp every year and had just thought that this was the way the activity was always run. In the subsequent conversation the camp staff explained that due to the amount of students within the cohort who required scooters, because of their lack of experience on bikes, this bushtrack extension of the activity wasn’t possible within their program. Rather than just accept that this was the way it always has to be, or get angry and look to blame someone or something, this Assistant Principal used this spark to turn a challenge into an opportunity.

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mohandas Gandhi

A teacher from the school put his hand up at the beginning of last year and went to Victoria to become qualified in bike education. The school dedicated some financial resources to purchase two bikes to pilot a program at their school. Then because of its success they bought a fleet of bikes and rolled out the program in a much larger way. Because of the enthusiasm and interest it caused within the school community it was then expanded to include parents learning to ride after school hours. A ripple created from this resulted in students receiving bikes for birthdays/Christmas/etc. and families choosing to use leisure time riding within the local community. And incredibly, just 12 months on from that conversation with camp staff, a whole cohort of kids experienced the bushtrack extension whilst at camp at the end of 2016! Wow, what an incredible example of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically.

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.” – Norman Vincent Peale

We all encounter ‘the spark’ on a regular basis within our journeys of potential. What we choose to do next though is completely up to us.

I’d Rather

January 30, 2017 at 5:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A really interesting conversation I had last week got me thinking about a few important things. Curiosity definitely has me listening closely at the moment to the thoughts, words and actions that get us moving forwards, as I strive to embody this year’s mantra of bridging ideas into action. The sentence within this conversation that really grabbed me started with two simple words. As I wrote last week I love when we as individuals and groups are able to get under the surface, and what this young man was describing was definitely an invitation into what was bubbling underneath for him. I’d rather…

“If you never try, you’ll never know what you are capable of.” – John Barrow

The young man (about 20 years old) was talking about how he has really been trying to intentionally get into his stretch zone over the past few years. Navigating social anxiety has been his ongoing struggle, with him highlighting during our conversation recent examples of when it has reared its head. Hearing him talk so openly about how he’s initiated opportunities to purposefully challenge himself over the past few years (things like joining a drama group) were truly inspiring. But what was most inspiring was how a few days earlier he had put himself out there within a facilitation role and why this sentence starting with I’d rather had such importance.

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” – Stephen Kaggwa

He hadn’t gained the specific internal qualification he had been attempting that few days ago within his university holiday work environment. This work environment was also one of the initiated opportunities to purposefully challenge himself as many aspects of being around so many people involved a lot of stretching for him (and sometimes teetering on panic zone). Confidently he explained how he’d rather have tried and failed on that particular day, than never tried at all. The self awareness and learnings he was describing became the conversation we then had. Was it really a ‘fail’?

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

He now knows what he has to work on in order to try for this internal qualification again. He now has a contact (permanent staff member) who can support him as he develops the necessary knowledge and skills to try again. He now has a new level of confidence developed through having the courage to engage fully and honestly within this process. He now has another opportunity to again remember why his ‘I’d rather’ is so important. These are just a few of the things he described. He doesn’t want to be defined or ruled by one part of who he is, one event that has happened or one version of what’s possible. What he wants reminded me of why our name is so important to us, and the clients we engage with, Explore (the possibilities), Discover (potential) and Act (authentically).

“I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

So this is our hope: that all the students who have today (or over the coming days) walked back into classrooms for another school year, and the teachers who bring with them such a diversity of skills, knowledge and experiences, as well as the families and/or carers who will to the best of their ability provide support, love and encouragement, that all of them and us all will remember as we navigate all that this year will bring;

  • That our daily thoughts, words and actions matter.
  • That our journey will involve both successes and challenges, remembering that, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill.
  • We are all capable of making a difference in our own and others lives.
  • We are all in this together!

Getting Under The Surface

January 23, 2017 at 11:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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One thing I just love is when I have the opportunity to support groups of educators. Last week again provided for one of those opportunities. This group of camp leaders were inspiring for so many reasons. But one of the biggest reasons is that they allowed themselves, and ourselves, to go there (individually and collectively). And the ripples created were incredible.

“Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots.” – Rumi

One of the things I love most about outdoor education is the deep levels of connection that it opens up for and to self, others and the world around us. But, there’s a big but (there always is when we are talking about connection). Are we as individuals and groups willing to show up fully, remain open and then hold that space for each other (with all the vulnerability that involves) so that we can get under the surface? It’s where the magic happens. But it’s also where we can sometimes be fearful to let ourselves go.

“Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.” – Marcus Aurelius

What a privilege it is to be able to open up pathways for this type of stretching, so that growth and development can follow. Hearing the camp leaders talk about the impact the support they received had on them (individually and collectively) reminded me why getting under the surface is so important. I can’t wait to hear how these individuals make real and embody the learning they’ve taken away. And most importantly, hear about how the kids who they support in the future will be positively impacted through their continued empowered thoughts, words and actions.

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within come when life seems most challenging.” – Joseph Campbell

Reframing

January 9, 2017 at 4:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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How often do you get caught believing that there’s only one way, solution, possibility, truth, etc.? Maybe it’s only for a split second and then we catch ourselves. Maybe it’s for as long as a particular interaction is happening and then we catch ourselves. Maybe it’s for an extended period of time and then something finally clicks and we catch ourselves. That old adage of ‘nothing changes until you do’ definitely rings true for me as I reflect on our ability to reframe within our journeys of potential.

“Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it.” – Marianne Williamson

A certain conversation the other day got me thinking about reframing within a leadership context. My friend was describing a recent adventure that had taken him out of his comfort zone in the Christmas period. As he described the navigation of new terrain he got to the part that had my curiosity peaking. It had to do with who (his friend or he) would take on the most challenging lead climb within the trip they were on and the way the two of them always decided choices like this.

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” – Wayne W. Dyer

I love scissors, paper, rock, and so was very excited to hear that this playful method of deliberating was their way of deciding important decisions like this one. Even though my friend is a highly experienced and accomplished climber there’s always going to be times when his courage, skill and determination are tested. This trip was proving to be one of those times. When I heard he won (not sure if it was best of 1 or 3) I blurted out, so did you make your mate go first? I assumed now having the choice he may take the breather and climb second on this most challenging pitch. His response and the subsequent conversation had me so inspired. “The winner always takes it on”.

“If a problem can’t be solved within the frame it was conceived, the solution lies in reframing the problem.” – Brian McGreevy

It’s a mindset thing. Leadership isn’t about using some perceived or real power to deflect, shirk or redistribute responsibility. Instead leadership is brought to life in being prepared, willing and ready to use your empowered thoughts, words and actions to make a difference for self and others (even while we’re stretching within the struggle). Importantly, this type of self awareness can also assist us to be honest with ourselves and others in the process. It doesn’t mean that we won’t feel fear, doubt or uncertainty as we courageously lead. It just means that we’re willing to work through these feelings when they arise, without letting them define us, knowing why our thoughts, words and actions are important and that there’s support around us if we need it.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius

If we are to bridge ideas into action then reframing seems to be an important tool. But like anything, reframing by itself won’t actually bring about change, growth, learning or transformation. The windows it opens needs to be followed by courageous action. It’s why the quote that underpins our L.E.A.D. with Courage™ philosophy remains, ‘Leadership Is an Action Not Position’ (Donald H. McGannon) as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, TOGETHER.

What a Way to Finish the Year!

December 26, 2016 at 6:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A week ago I was gifted with the most perfect challenge to round out 2016. With my mantra this year being ‘Remembering to Rumble’ (adopted after reading Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong), I couldn’t of scripted a more appropriate test for what I’ve been practicing all year long. The rumble happens within the stories. Those we tell ourselves, others and the world around us. It showed up for me this year as a willingness to get curious around, challenge and reality check the narratives I create as often as possible in real time.

“THE RUMBLE: OWNING OUR STORY – Get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations and assumptions to determine what’s truth, what’s self-protection, and what needs to change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives.” – Brené Brown, Rising Strong

Friends in the Blue Mountains told me we’d be going on an adventure. I’ve done some amazing canyons with them over the past few years so I was excited about what this opportunity would bring on my short visit a week ago. I trust them implicitly. But of course, like any good challenge, this was going to involve stepping out of my comfort zone (with support). My friend made one particular comment as we left the house that I rumbled with on the walk over to Boars Head. He used the phrase ‘can be intimidating’ when offering an answer to a question I asked about the climb out after the abseils we’d be doing.

“Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty.” – Brené Brown, Rising Strong

The abseils were so much fun. The various gullies and ledges we traversed were stunning. But now here I was at the section of the adventure that definitely required me to remember to rumble. 140m of rock face below me. 45m of rock face above me. The way out, up. This was something that I’d never navigated before. It would require me to stay present, focussed and determined, all the while getting curious around, challenging and reality checking the stories I created (some of them were incredible) in real time. I was so grateful for this perfect challenge and its timing as 2016 comes to an end.

“We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.”- Brené Brown, Rising Strong

My friends were incredible. Their expertise and demeanour puts you at ease and allows you to stretch so that learning and growth can take place within the challenge. I did it, and was so proud of what was accomplished. So here’s to all the learning and growth that has taken place in 2016. And more importantly, here’s to all the incredible individuals and groups that I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically with throughout this year. I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring. Happy New Year!

“The rumble is where wholeheartedness is cultivated and change begins.” – Brené Brown, Rising Strong

 

 

Peer to Peer

October 10, 2016 at 3:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.” – Tom Peters

Life can get so busy. Our personal and/or professional roles and responsibilities can see us experiencing feelings of being time poor while we juggle overcrowded schedules, expectations and deadlines. One of the areas that can slip away or be overlooked in the midst of all of this is effective communication with those within our spheres of influence. If time isn’t carved out within the busyness and the role of purposeful communication isn’t highly valued and practiced then opportunities to maximise our own and others engagement, wellbeing, contribution, growth and development may be missed.

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

I recently had the chance to spend some time supporting a camp leader team. This is definitely one work environment that can mirror what I’ve described above. The camp leaders professional roles and responsibilities span the full 24 hours of each day as they fulfil not only outcome focussed instruction and safety components of the participants experience, but also the pastoral care element of children being away from their homes for that week. One of my favourite quotes definitely is on show during a week at camp, ‘Teamwork makes the dream work’, as camp leaders interdependently create an experience for each individual that will hopefully be fondly remembered for a long time. Communication is absolutely at the heart of making this happen.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

One area that we highlighted in our sessions was the importance of being explicit as we communicate (in particular areas for this group especially). ‘The illusion that it has taken place’, as the quote above most eloquently describes, is a major challenge that must be navigated. To limit feelings of frustration, blame and disconnection as we assume someone should know or maybe knows, we can open pathways to accountability, empowerment and the fostering of a positive culture if we have the courage to share what needs to be said, compassionately, openly and honestly. I was able to witness this in action within this group, with the ripples being created by the staff’s thoughts, words and actions becoming teachable moments for us all.

“Examine what is said and not who speaks.” – African proverb

The most powerful session that I facilitated saw the camp leaders engaging in a peer to peer feedback activity. Sometimes we can feel feedback travels downwards rather than owning the important role that we all play in our own and others engagement, wellbeing, contribution, growth and development in the workplace. The activity started with us all honestly reflecting on our own strengths and areas for growth before having the opportunity to provide observations for each other in these areas. All the staff involved spoke to me afterwards about how this process was important and valuable for them. It reinforced. It supported. It challenged. It reminded. It inspired. But most importantly the peer to peer feedback opened up meaningful and purposeful conversations rooted in mutual respect and a deep belief of we’re all in this together.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy

Having spent a lot of time in camp over the years, here in Australia as well as overseas, I often say that what I love most is that when at its best camp is a celebration of the imperfect. Real really is a big deal. When participants and staff choose exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically, guards are dropped and comfort zones are expanded, that’s when the magic happens. Connection is the only real currency of any value in this environment. And as I said earlier in this post, communication is absolutely at the heart of making this happen.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi

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