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Join Gerry for a wild ride through the Slums of Mumbai Pt. 3 of a 4 part series

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This is the third in a four-part series on India

The Slums of Mumbai by Gerry Feehan

It was in the rooftop restaurant of the Intercontinental Hotel in Mumbai, that we first encountered Joe Tourist. He was at the other end of the open-air bistro, ordering sushi. “Hey,” he shouted across the floor at the flustered waiter, “make that four tuna belly and throw in an extra order of unagi.”

Ordering sushi in India is ill-advised – for a couple of reasons. First, there is a near-zero probability that you will actually receive what you ordered and second, in the days following, you will almost certainly regret your decision to consume raw fish netted from the Bay of Bengal.

While events unfolded on the far side of the restaurant, we sat quietly enjoying a soft Indian evening and a delicious appetizer of aloo gobi and paneer fried in onion gravy. On the street far below the honking traffic crawled while pedestrians strolled Mumbai’s broad malecon, which serpentines along Marine Drive. 

We overheard Joe Tourist ask for the bill, “La cuenta por favor.” (He must have mistaken Mumbai for the Mayan Riviera.) The waiter, barely able to comprehend English, stared blankly, mystified by Joe T.’s garbled Spanish.

Minutes later, as if on cue, a tsunami arose from Mr. Tourist’s table over the fishy tab. Ignoring the commotion, we dug into our delightful entree of tandoori chicken and bhindi masala, served with a side of steaming garlic naan. But serendipity had a cruel fate in store for us. This was not to be the last time we would cross paths with Joe Tourist during our adventure in India. (Part IV next month).

Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is the fourth largest city in the world. India’s business capital is undergoing the greatest construction boom in the country’s history. Everywhere huge apartment buildings are being erected, scraping the sky. Yet just meters from these multi-million-dollar luxury condominiums lie Mumbai’s vast slums. Eighty percent of Mumbai’s twenty million residents live in these jumbled shantytowns.

 

In the movie Slumdog Millionaire the protagonist, an 18-year-old orphan from the Dharavi slum, relies on his street smarts to answer a series of obscure questions – and collects the grand prize of 20,000,000 rupees. In true Bollywood fashion there is also an elaborate dance scene – and of course in the end he gets the girl. 22 year-old Nic is also from Dharavi. He picked us up at the hotel for a tour through the slum he calls home. But first he showed us the sights of colonial Mumbai: Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Railway Station), the iconic Gateway of India in Mumbai Harbour and, across the street, the opulent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. 

On November 26, 2008 Pakistani militants stormed the hotel, setting off explosives and killing 31 guests. Nic was in the plaza across from the Taj when the terrorists began strafing the crowd with automatic rifle fire. “When the firing started, I broke away on my own,” he told us matter-of-factly. “Shooters are more likely to fire at a group than one person.” Duly noted.

We weren’t permitted to take pictures in the Dharavi slum. But what I saw is forever seared into my memory: a group of women crouched on haunches in a dimly-lit room, separating an endless mountain of used plastic utensils; two young lads – without the benefit of eye, ear or lung protection – shoving broken toys into a gas-powered chipper. I stuck my head in that forsaken room for a few seconds before the deafening noise and smell of churning plastic drove me out. 

From the ‘plastic’ district, Nic led us past open sewers, under precariously dangling electrical wires and through narrow twisting passages to a quarter where the planet’s discarded leather coats are re-tanned. The gutter ran ochre with chemical sludge. Then, holding our breath, we entered a smoky neighbourhood where bricks are re-kilned. Finally we toured an area where dirty paint cans from around the globe are emptied, cleaned and banged back into shape. The gutter here ran all colours of the rainbow.

And every Dharavi rooftop billowed to overflowing with stuff the world has long-since discarded.

Amidst all this commotion folks lived, cooked, cleaned, ate. Children played, old men smoked, teenagers flirted, mothers nursed, babies slept. In this single square kilometre of squalid, stifling slum, a million people go about the daily business of survival. But to street-smart Nic, Dharavi is just home, the place where he rests his head each night. 

If you visit India, you may wish to bring an attractive blonde along. Your group will be popular. We couldn’t walk down the street without someone requesting a selfie with our cute friend from Saskatoon. In Mumbai’s main square locals surrounded her like paparazzi hounding a celebrity. Thus began our symbiotic photo relationship with India. Locals took shots of our ‘BB Ji’ while we, demanding a reciprocal favour, photographed them photographing her.

Last evening in Mumbai. Returning to the Intercontinental from a late-night stroll along the Malecon, I was pooped, ready for bed. A motorcycle pulled up to the curb. “Jump on.” It was Nic. Fueled by a couple of Kingfisher beers and disregarding all common sense rules mother may have laid down, I climbed aboard for a death-defying, adrenaline-stoked roar down Marine Drive. Nic laughed and joked as we weaved at break-neck speed through cars, trucks, rickshaws, pedestrians – and other insane motorcyclists. I hung on for dear life. Eventually he returned me, unscathed, to the hotel door. “That was fun,” I said, shaking. He waved, shouted “Alvida,” and sped off into the bedlam. 

I didn’t sleep a wink that night. Despite utter exhaustion, I lay awake listening to the incessant, unrelenting, honking traffic – and thinking of the millions of souls eking out an existence in the slums of Mumbai.

In the morning we left chaotic Mumbai for the relative calm of Kerala, on India’s extreme southwestern tip. The ‘land of coconuts’ is a tropical paradise dense with rain forest, wild elephants, monkeys, tea plantations – and spices. Kerala is home to a wonder of zesty flavours: pepper, cinnamon, licorice, chili, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, turmeric. For centuries the colonial powers fought, won and lost wars over the exotic spice trade. 

And from these amazing seeds and roots comes India’s great contribution to world cuisine: curry. 

Next time: the spices of Kerala.

Thanks to Rod Kennedy and Kennedy Wealth Management and Ing and McKee Insurance for helping to make this series possible.  Please support them.

 

If you go: Explore India from Vancouver B.C. (www.exploreindia.ca) capably and professionally handled all aspects of our private month-long tour – air and land travel, hotels, meals, guides, drivers, entrance fees and activities – for one all-inclusive price.

“India? Are you nuts?” Join Gerry for Part 1 of his series on India.

 

 

India Part 2- Terrific photos! Experience the Taj Mahal and Ganges with Gerry Feehan

 

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Why Not Me? – Chapter Four

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Chapter 4

Moving Beyond Mediocre

Key #34
Possibilities (Meet Alvin)

When you get rid of excuses, possibilities take their place. 

Let me introduce you to Alvin Law. Alvin is a very talented man by anyone’s standards. He has learned how to: 

• Play the trombone, piano, and drums.

• Author a fantastic and inspirational book.

• Build a business that inspires tens of thousands of people a year.

• Dress himself—um, pardon?

If the last point doesn’t sound impressive, you just try to button up your shirt, tie a tie, and zip up your pants without any arms. Yes that’s right, without any arms. As a result of the infamous morning-sickness drug Thalidomide, Alvin was born without arms. He doesn’t complain, make excuses, or ask for sympathy. He just figures out ways to deal with his challenges, and he gets the job done. Alvin embodies the military motto of “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.” 

During his whole life, Alvin had to endure listening to people telling him what he couldn’t do. He was forever being forced to silence the doubters by doing the impossible, time and time again. Most people would have believed all of the people who always said, “You can’t.” Most people would have lived within the limits that were set upon them. But Alvin understood that the only opinion that mattered in regards to his potential was his own opinion. Alvin also understood better than most that “can’t” means “won’t.” It was his refusal to give up and his unrelenting courage to try anything that has made his life full and plentiful in the face of adversity. 

If you are the type to make excuses in life, I strongly suggest that you read Alvin’s book, Alvin’s Five Laws to Overcome Anything available at www.alvinlaw.com. 

Yes, Alvin can type too. He wrote a great book, and he is a talented international speaker as well. 

Key #35
Big Potatoes, Small Potatoes

As Donald Trump says, “As long as you are going to be thinking anyway, think big!” People tend to place limits on themselves based on their confidence levels. It’s impossible to achieve more than what you believe you deserve. The more you believe is possible, the more becomes possible. This is why the first part of this book is faith. Faith in your own potential is the foundation upon which all else is built. If you think that you are small potatoes, then you are small potatoes. All you have to do is to realize that your potatoes are as big as you are willing to grow them, and then a whole new world of possibilities will open up. 

I fully realize that the above is easier said than done, but you must first be familiar with a concept before you can start to believe it. Once you believe it, you can then start to internalize it and make it a part of who you are. Some people are able to remove the obstacles all at once and explode down a path of achievement. Most other people (myself included) need to find small successes first in order to have the courage to attempt bigger and bigger things. It’s all a matter of comfort level and courage. Dr. Wayne Dyer teaches that to think big, we must first think small. Break the big goal into a bunch of smaller, less intimidating goals. Once the goal is broken down, it seems less daunting to knock off each smaller sub-goal one at a time. 

Dharma plays a large role in the size of the goals we choose. If your goal is truly one that suits you, then you will naturally have more courage and energy to work towards that goal. If you are setting a goal that isn’t compatible with your Dharma, then you will have less courage and energy to invest in that goal. The amount of energy you put towards a goal will determine the size of the goal. Writing this book takes an enormous amount of energy and commitment. But sharing wisdom is my Dharma, so it doesn’t seem like work at all. In fact, because writing this book is a Dharma-driven endeavor, I actually receive more energy from writing than I expend. 

When you hear yourself placing limitations on how much money you deserve, how happy you can be, or how far you can go in your career, just remember that the only limitations are the ones you have placed in your own path. Any obstacles that you perceive, you will be able to overcome. In the Army, I was taught to “improvise, adapt, and overcome.” If there was an obstacle in my way, I would go over, under, around, or through it using any means I could. If you choose to adopt this simple problem-solving attitude, then you will be able to choose any sized goal you wish. What you don’t know how to do, you will simply figure out or hire someone that can do it for you.

If you decide to build a house yourself and money is not an object, then it can be any size you choose. Many people might choose a small, simple house, since that would seem to be a more attainable goal. A small home seems more simple to build and less daunting. In actual fact, a larger house is equally attainable. You may have more to learn, but that’s okay because you have the ability to learn. It may take more time, but you are only building it once! If you believe that you can build the bigger house, then you will have the courage and the energy to achieve that goal. If you don’t believe you can, then the size of your house will be directly proportionate to your confidence level.

Key #36
The Golden Oldies

There are hundreds of keys right under your nose

I’ve often heard people dismiss common, popular sayings as “fluff.” This is a huge mistake. Don’t let the fact that a saying is on a bumper sticker or a T-shirt trick you into dismissing it. Little blips of common wisdom aren’t so little. There is valuable wisdom all around us if we would just listen and pay attention. Here are some sayings I had on the tip of my tongue, and I apologize if I have not given the proper credit for any of the following quotes. I’m sure that Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, or Charlie “Tremendous” Jones may be able to take credit for a couple of these. 

• Obstacles are the things we see when we lose sight of our goals.

• Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

• You have two ears and only one mouth—use them proportionately. 

• Make hay while the sun shines.

• Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (The Golden Rule).

• Do unto others as they would have you do unto them (The Platinum Rule).

• A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.Mar k Meinc ke106 

• Luck is a by-product of achieving a goal.

• We make our own luck.

• You can never become “above average” as long as you pursue “average” goals.

• You reap what you sow.

Blah, blah, blah, or important wisdom? There are thousands of sayings like these that have something to offer you. This wisdom is right under your nose, and you can choose to be lifted by it or you can choose to ignore it. 

I can think of dozens of sayings that I have heard hundreds of times before the meaning within the saying finally hit me. I have my favorites, but they all have something to share. By being conscious of these sayings and trying to glean some wisdom from them, you will find that life just gets easier. If you focus on having a positive outlook and on growing your life, then these sayings will jump out at you. If you choose to stay negative, then you will only see negative things, and you will miss out on this wisdom. 

Of course, there are other common quips that are equally unhealthy. Commonly accepted misinformation is a pet peeve of mine. Here are some examples:

“Money is the root of all evil” 

This is a common misquote that I’ve heard people often use as an excuse for their lack of ambition. It’s not money, but the want of money, or greed, that is quoted in the Bible as being the root of all evil. With money, you can give to charities and lift those around you. Money pays for children’s hospitals, opera, and the fine arts. Money has the potential to bring a lot of good to the world. One of the greatest joys of my financial success is in my ability to give to others. If I were broke, I’d not be able to do anything other than to make ends meet. A large percentage of the profits from this book are going to charitable causes, so if there were not any book sales, there would not be any money, and these causes would not receive any benefits. 

“Well, that would be nice, and I’d do it if I ever won the lottery!” 

How many times have you heard this? The fact is, if you want something, you don’t need the lottery to get it. People will make the “lottery statement” so that they don’t have to take responsibility for their refusal to pursue or achieve their goals. 

Not only can all of us live a fulfilling life, but it is our God-given right to create the opportunity to do so. 

Notice that I said that it is our right to “create the opportunity,” and not to simply have a fulfilling life. We have to take responsibility for taking action when opportunities present themselves; good things don’t happen without a conscious effort on our part. God doesn’t want us to plod through life pretending that we can only achieve our dreams if they are magically given to us by a genie in a bottle or by winning the lottery. We own our lives, and they are what we build them to be. 

We can all remember being a kid and thinking that our mom was “nagging” us without just cause. As we got older, we would stumble into an experience that would prove our mom’s advice to be valid and her nags to be wisdom. Isn’t it funny that the older we get, the more Mom seems to make sense? As our perspective changes and as we mature, we are able to understand wisdom that was given to us a decade or more ago. Why didn’t we just “get it” years ago? 

How many times have you said, “If only I knew then, what I know now?” Have you ever imagined going back in time to scream sense into your younger self? I know I have. By paying attention to the wisdom around us, and by being skilled at learning from your mistakes, the process of gaining wisdom is greatly accelerated. You don’t need to have the “future you” go back in time to give you valuable information. The guide in the balloon above you can already see what lies ahead and can give you what you need to know so that you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

Key #37
Leveraging 

Leverage is the ability to produce results that are greater than your effort. You can leverage wisdom, technical knowledge, or manpower. Learning from mistakes can be leveraged as well if you choose to learn from the mistakes of others. This way, all of the time and energy that has been expended by others who have made mistakes can benefit you without any more effort than it takes to learn the lessons taught by their mistakes. Trial and error can take years if you do it yourself. You can literally gain hundreds of years of experience in a few short hours of reading. Let others fall on their faces for years on end, but not you! You know better; you know that you don’t have to do things the hard way. 

The reason there are so many books on success is that successful people are often generous people who want to share what they have learned for the benefit of others. Accept this generosity by paying attention to their lessons, and you will fit several lifetimes of wisdom into a few days of reading. 

The “secret to success and happiness” is anything but a secret. There is a wealth of information available in almost every language, in every country in the world that will guide anyone who is seeking a path to financial and personal success. 

Understanding and using the power of leverage will allow you to overcome obstacles that you would have otherwise thought impossible. Anything that you cannot do with your own power can be achieved by amplifying your power with leverage.

Key #38
What others have done before me, so can I

If others have what I want, I can have it too.

I have no idea where I learned this simple concept, but this important wisdom has always been inside me. Regardless of its origin, it is the one bit of wisdom more than any other that has given me the courage to achieve every single goal I have ever accomplished. 

When I joined the Army, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. I did not take heed upon entering; I just had the solid thought in my mind, Tens of thousands have done this before me, so there is no way that I can’t do it! When I got to Basic Training (boot camp), there was one lesson above all others I will never forget: 

Sergeant McGee had all of us face down on the floor doing push-ups, when he heard one of the recruits say, “I can’t.” McGee stomped over to this recruit, got down on one knee and blasted these three words into the recruit’s face, and into my mind: “Can’t means won’t, you little maggot!” 

“Can’t means won’t”? Wow, that hit me right between the eyes like a ball-peen hammer. It was a deeply profound moment that changed the way I viewed the word “can’t.” It really stuck with me from that moment forward.

I was always able to do as many push-ups as that man demanded from me and that I demanded from myself. 

Every time I have faced a new challenge, I have always asked the same three questions. 

1. Has this been done before?

2. How can I learn to make it work?

3. Does this goal really suit me? Do I want to achieve this goal?

The statement “What others have done before me, so can I” is a simple and powerful one. If you think about it, it’s applicable to just about any goal you can possibly imagine. If you overcome your fear of success and fear of failure, then you can state these words with confidence and go forth to achieve any reasonable goal you wish. 

“Reasonable goal.” Now there is a phrase that you won’t often see in most books about maximizing your personal potential. I’ve read several books that state, “Whatever your mind can conceive, you can achieve!” That statement, although it has its merits, can easily be dismissed by eager skeptics as “fluff.” By my estimation, this statement is only about ninety-eight percent accurate. We do have our limitations. However, our limitations are always far less significant and far fewer than we think they are. Limitations are not a negative thing at all. If you are trying to be the best at something that you have the least talent for, then you’re in for a rough ride. If you have located your talents and strive toward a goal that requires your God-given strengths, then you’re bound to succeed if you just soldier on no matter what. 

I’m not saying that you should just roll over and accept your weaknesses as an inevitable burden. Almost any weakness can be trained into a strength. If you are chasing a serious goal, it’s far less difficult if you are walking a path that complements your skill set. 

Key #39
Limitations? 

Remember Alvin Law? The whole world tried to put limitations on him, and he had to prove them all wrong time after time. A piano teacher once told him that his toes were too short to ever be able to play the piano. Undaunted, Alvin knew what he wanted, and he learned how to play the piano regardless. 

I would like to share with you something special to me. In 2002, I volunteered as an adult literacy tutor. We only taught our students one-on-one, so we were able to learn quite a bit about them. My first student (that I’ll call Jerry) was an amazing man. He graduated high school and had made it through his first year of technical college without knowing how to read! I don’t know how he did it, but he did. Without being literate, Jerry started two very successful businesses, and he had a very healthy net worth. His house was mortgage-free by the time he was thirty-five years old, and his business was doing great—and all without knowing how to read. Who would have guessed that an illiterate man could accomplish so much in life? 

I met with Jerry for two hours a week, every Thursday, at a public library. He committed himself to finally learning how to read, and after only nine months, he was reading at a level that was satisfactory to him. He wasn’t reading Shakespeare, but he was reading at a proficient level. When we started, he didn’t even have a firm grasp of the alphabet. And now he understood both spelling and grammar to a level that allowed him to read and write. 

I invite you to remember this story and the story of Alvin Law the next time you place limitations on yourself. Learning to read in your forties isn’t a small task. After twelve years of being failed by the school system, it’s difficult to believe you could learn to read in only nine months. Most would call it impossible, but Jerry just made it happen.

Q: “How was the dog able to climb the tree?” 

A: “Nobody told him he couldn’t.” 

Impossible?

Although most limitations are self-imposed, there are several that are imposed by the common doctrine of society. To best illustrate, I’ll provide a list of some of the things that were commonly believed to be impossible:

1. Breaking the sound barrier. Chuck Yeager did it on October 14, 1947

2. The four minute mile. Was first accomplished by Roger Bannister in 1954

3. Crossing the Atlantic. No, it wasn’t Columbus, he was predated by at least 200 years. The Viking ruins were found in Newfoundland to prove it. 

4. Flying. Arguably, the Wright Brothers were the first to fly.

5. Going around the world in eighty days.

6. End to the slave trade.

7. Nuclear power.

8. The light bulb.

9. Electricity.

10. An affordable lap top computer.

11. Cell phones.

12. Women voting.

13. The world being round.

14. The sun is at the center of our system.

15. Space flight.

16. The automobile.

17. European Union.

18. Climbing Mount Everest. Over 500 summiteers in 2007 alone. 

Every one of the above points was believed to be impossible. Each of the above topics had scores of critics laughing at anyone who thought these goals to be possible. Every single one of the above accomplishments happened despite the popular opinion, not because of it. 

The next time someone laughs at your goals or dreams, try to realize that the criticism may be evidence that you are onto something good! 

Key #40
Mentorship

I have a great many mentors, but very few of them have a clue that I consider them to be a mentor. I tend to consider both the strengths and weaknesses of each person I know so each person I meet becomes a teacher. As a result of putting forth effort into seeing people’s strengths; they are often clear to me. The reason I look for the good in people is so I can better understand myself and grow from what I draw from others. Everyone has a quality worth admiring, so if you notice yourself admiring a quality in someone, it should beg the question: “If I admire this quality, should I not try to adopt this quality into my own life?” 

I’d like to share with you a story of my friend’s father. To me, it’s an amazing story that has taught me that anything is possible if you are willing to do the work to make it happen. 

The wealthy mailman

Fred was a mailman for over thirty-five years. As a mailman, he never received a large salary, but what he earned was enough to keep food on the table for his wife and four children. His kids didn’t have the fancier things in life, but none of them ever felt as though they went without. Some people would look at a man who carried a mailbag for so many years and assume that he was a man who lacked ambition in life. They would be wrong! 

The critics would be wrong for two main reasons: 

1. Fred truly enjoyed his work. Few people are blessed with a job they actually enjoy. Most of us trudge through life hating our occupation, but not Fred. 

2. Fred had a life outside work that was full and rich with accomplishments.

Don’t ever let your job define who you are. It is common for someone to say, “I’m only a mailman,” when what they should be thinking and saying is, “I’m a champion who happens to deliver the mail so that I can pay my bills.” Do you see the difference? Our occupation is just something we do to generate an income, nothing more. Don’t let it define who you are or limit your potential. If anything, your potential should define your occupation. 

Now let me share with you the wonderful story of Fred, not the mailman, but Fred the dream builder!

When Fred was a young man with a young family, he found that he was restless. His family was provided for, but there was something deep down inside picking at him that he just couldn’t ignore. Although he had a very ordinary income, he imagined what it would be like to provide an extraordinary life for his family. With this restlessness, a dream started to form. He didn’t know exactly what he was seeking; he only knew that he wanted more for his family. Driven by this nagging feeling of wanting more, Fred started to pay attention to potential opportunities. 

One way to see opportunities is to do an inventory of assets. Fred started thinking about his work schedule, and he realized that he had the greatest asset of all: lots of free time. Fred’s mail route started early in the morning, and he was finished by 2:30 p.m. every day. He knew that if an opportunity arose, that at least he would have the time to pursue it. All he needed now was the opportunity. 

Opportunity will always appear to the person who is ready to jump on it. However, opportunity is content to stay hidden from the person who isn’t ready to seize it. 

One afternoon after work, Fred was enjoying a piping hot coffee, softened by a dash of evaporated milk. The sections of his newspaper were pulled apart and neatly restacked on the table. As he was casually flipping through the classifieds, an advertisement in the Real Estate section caught his eye. A Realtor was advertising a twenty-acre parcel just one hour from the city. Something about this ad started the dream wheels turning for Fred, and he knew that he had to take a look. A good buddy of his was a Realtor, so he called up his friend and arranged to see this property. Fred knew he couldn’t afford to purchase this land on his own, so he asked his brother to go in with him. When he got to the land, he started to see the potential it offered. He was so excited about this parcel that his enthusiasm soon won over his brother, and they agreed to buy it together. 

Fred the dream builder had taken the first step. He saw an opportunity, and he found a way to pounce on it. Buying the land was just the first step. Unless he wanted to pitch a tent and just have a twenty-acre campground for his family, he had to find a way to build a cabin. As a mailman, Fred had limited financial resources. But what he did have was time.

On Fred’s mail route, he noticed that there were a few houses that were beyond repair and needed to be torn down. It occurred to him that the building material in those homes could be recycled. Then the light bulb lit up! He immediately went to the city with the addresses of these homes, and he found out who the owners were. Fred contacted the owners, and he offered to demolish the homes for free, providing that he was given a long time-line to do so. Also, he was allowed to salvage all of the building materials. The homeowners gladly agreed, and Fred got to work. 

Fred and his oldest children would pry off each board carefully, pull the nails, and stack the wood in his trailer. He would then straighten and save all of the nails in coffee tins. Once the trailer was loaded, he would haul the material to his twenty acres and store it. As you can well imagine, this was a lot of work. But for Fred, recycling was a labor of love. 

Over time, Fred was able to accumulate enough free recycled material to build not only his cabin, but three other cabins, two huge garages, three out-houses, one root cellar, one gazebo, one baseball diamond, and a fifty-foot bridge. Bonaire Acres is the name of this amazing place, and my wife and I love being invited for an occasional overnight stay. Every time we visit, I am reminded of the power of a dream. With focus, hard work, and determination, almost anything is possible. Fred is certainly one of my most powerful mentors, and he didn’t even know it until I gave him a copy of this book. 

Key #41
Modeling 

Modeling is the next step after mentoring. As Anthony Robbins wrote:

“Modeling is the pathway to excellence. The movers and shakers of the world are often professional modelers—people who have mastered the art of learning everything they can by following other people’s experience, rather than their own.”

This concept is a simple one. Just think of someone who has something that you want. Figure out what that person did to get that thing, and then do the same thing he did to get it! Do you remember the title of Key # 38? What others have done before me, so can I. 

• Mentoring is the act of acknowledging and respecting the positive traits of others.

• Modeling is the act of doing what your mentors are doing to achieve a desired result.

Modeling provides a huge amount of leverage. As Tony Robbins says, use other people’s experience rather than your own. Both the positive and negative results produced by others have valuable lessons to teach. 

Modeling Got Me through College

I was terrified of college. I had been out of high school for six years, and I didn’t have a successful academic track record at all. I coasted through high school just doing the bare minimum required to graduate. At the time, I wasn’t interested in school, so I didn’t bother putting any effort into it. By the time I enrolled in college at the age of twenty-six, my attitude toward school had improved greatly. I was more mature and very curious about the world around me. Also, college wasn’t free, so I knew I had to do well, but I had no idea of how to achieve in college. 

When class started, it didn’t take long to realize who the class clowns and class achievers were. All I simply did was start hanging around with the top students and whatever they did, I did. If that group was studying, I was studying with them while the class clowns were goofing off. I had been the class clown in high school, so I knew from experience that those actions would produce poor results. Poor results were simply not acceptable to me in college. As it turned out, I graduated, and with great marks as well. 

Modeling is a powerful and transferable tool that can be utilized for any goal. With just this single key, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Key #42
Why not you? 

If other people have the things you want, then why not you? If you know of someone who is driving your dream car, why are you just dreaming about that car? Do you believe that the person driving your dream car is just “lucky”? Do you believe that only doctors, lawyers, and lottery winners can drive nice cars? The fact is that anyone who has the desire to achieve their financial goals can drive their dream car. Nobody is going to give it to you for free. However, by the same token, nobody can stop you from achieving it either. The only person who can stop you from achieving your goals is YOU. When a critic asks you, “What makes you think that you can?” simply answer, “What makes you think I can’t?!” With the tools, or keys, that you have already acquired to this point, it should be clear to you that there is no reason at all why you can’t have the life and things you desire. 

Greatness can come from any background. It’s not where you are that matters, but where you are going. 

Let me share with you the story of my first year in my current business. In my first year I only grossed about $25,000. After expenses, I probably only kept about half of that before taxes. I wasn’t exactly making my fortune yet, but I wasn’t concerned. I knew where I was going and what waited for me down the road. Image is an important factor in my current business. I deal with clients who put a lot of trust and faith in my abilities. The way I dress and the car I drive are interpreted as reflections of my competence level. 

Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t afford a decent car in my first year. Actually, this is an understatement—the car I was driving was fifteen years old with 355,000 kms (220,587 miles) on it. The paint was peeling off the hood, and the motor barely ran. It sounded a bit like the Disney car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I actually used to park it down the road from clients’ homes so they couldn’t see what I was driving. I’m certain that car lost me several clients based on the image it presented. My wife felt awful for me, but I never complained. I was just grateful that I had a car at all. I was actually happy that my first car was a junker because I knew that when I was successful that old car would make for a good story. 

In my second year, I bought a much better car. But in my third year, I bought the dream car, a gorgeous Jaguar S-type. If I had been able to buy the Jag the first year, I just wouldn’t have appreciated it as much. I prefer the feeling of accomplishment derived from traveling a difficult road over that of an easy road. This is why I’m not intimidated by the size of a goal. I’m simply prepared to do the work that is required regardless of how difficult it is. 

If you are in a poor financial situation then you are likely surrounded by people that are in the same situation. If you realize that you are capable of changing your position in life, then you will be able to take the action required to do so. Don’t let your history or your current position in life discourage you from pursuing your goals and dreams. The deeper you feel that you are in a hole, the further it is to climb out of it—but you can still climb out of it! No hole is too deep, no mountain is too high. Just take the first step and repeat that step as many times as necessary. If you do the work, your position will improve, but if you don’t, it won’t. What others have done before you, so can you!

Key #43
You are a product of your environment

You have likely heard a variation of the statement, “If you want to fly with the eagles, then don’t hang around with the turkeys.” I remember years ago, my uncle Bruce commented on a troubled youth: “Until that kid stops hanging around with bums, he’s doomed to end up as a bum.” That kid never did change the crowd he hung around with, and whataya know—he was doomed to a life filled with drugs and jail time.

Anyone who has worked with criminals will tell you that the only criminals that don’t repeat offend are the ones that have changed their peer group. If they get out of jail and jump right back into the same group of friends, then it is just a matter of time before they re-offend, get caught, and go back to jail. This works both ways; the people you surround yourself with will either lift you or sink you. 

Making and maintaining a friendship requires effort. So once you have accepted the fact that your friends influence your success, you must then make the hard choice of which relationships to foster and which relationships you should let falter. All that you have to do is to stop putting effort into people who are dragging you down and redirect that effort into people who will lift you up. 

I realize that this notion will stir emotion. We care about our friends, and nobody likes being told with whom they should hang around. However, carefully choosing your peer group is a necessary move on your path to growth. You have to be around people that encourage you to be happy—not people who tell you all of the reasons you can’t be happy. You need support from those who tell you that you CAN, not poison from “friends” who tell you that you can’t. The choice is that of inhabiting either a positive (constructive) or negative (destructive) environment. 

Meet “like minded” people. Choose your peer group carefully. Choose people who either have what they want or people who are determined to get it for themselves. Networking is a topic that has several books dedicated to it. One major guru of networking is Dr. Ivan Misner. Dr. Misner is the founder of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. He has authored and co-authored several books on the topic that are worthwhile reads. If you don’t know the people you would like to, there are books out there that can teach you how to meet them. Dale Carnegie’s famous How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of these books.

Most people have mediocre goals, and consequently they get mediocre results. If you want to be like most people then keep hanging around with most people. 

You can choose to run with the ordinary majority, or you can run with the extraordinary few who actually get what they want out of life. The path less traveled is the only path for successful people. If you don’t march to the beat of your own drum, you will be a slave to some other drummer. 

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Why Not Me? – Chapter Three

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Chapter 3

The Tools to Realize Your Purpose

Key #21
The Law of Attraction

“All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall receive them.” 

Mark 11:24

This key can be an incredibly tough pill to swallow, but it’s completely true all the same. The law of attraction has been written about as far back as written records can be found. This law, like the law of gravity, works whether you understand it or not. Several books and dozens of chapters of other books have been written about this universal law. Oprah Winfrey promoted the movie and book, The Secret, which is dedicated to sharing this amazing concept. I suggest that you go online to find the streaming video of The Secret, or get the DVD. It does a far better job of explaining the law of attraction than I ever could in a short chapter. I use this law to my advantage daily, and it has made a huge contribution to my life. 

Boiled down, the law of attraction states, “If you can imagine what it would feel like to have what you want, then you will attract this thing into your life.” You have to experience the feeling of actually having what you want for it to work, but work it does. 

From a psychological stand point, “feeling as though you already have it” is a trigger for your mind. When you pull this trigger, you put your mind into a resourceful and winning mind-set. If you already feel as though you have what you want, then it’s natural to start acting as though you have it. If you start acting as though you have what you want, then you will tap into your resourcefulness, and the actions which you choose to take will get you what you want.

Key #22
BE-DO-HAVE

As the world renowned achievement coach Richard Robbins once taught me, Be-Do-Have is the direction of the flow of life. Once you understand the Law of Attraction, Be-Do-Have starts to make a lot of sense. Here is how this works:

• You have to first BE the person that you wish to be.

• You then will naturally act and DO as you are. Your actions will reflect the person that you are being because who “you are” determines the actions that you will take. 

• As a result of your actions, you will naturally HAVE the things that you want in your life.

Most people try to go against the flow and swim upstream their whole lives. Have you ever noticed that the people who seem to have it all seem to have it easily? This is because they are going with the flow and allowing success to occur. You don’t have to chase success; you just have to allow it to happen. Who you decide to be will determine what is attracted into your life. 

“Be as you wish to seem.” 

Socrates

Key #23
Think-FeelDO

The way you think determines how you feel, and the way you feel determines how you act. We are emotional creatures, and we make most decisions based on our feelings. If your thoughts are focused on negative things, you will then feel negative, and your actions will be negative. If you are focused on positive things, you will feel positive, and your actions will be positive. This is why attitude is so powerful and why it’s so important to be conscious of your thoughts.

• If you are thinking about what you “don’t want,” then that’s what will be attracted into your life. 

• If you are thinking about “what you do want,” then that’s what will be attracted into your life. 

This is an incredibly well-researched topic, and there is a mountain of literature dedicated to this concept. The sooner you allow yourself to accept this truth, the sooner you will find peace in your life. Be conscious of your thoughts, and your life will instantly change for the better. The law of attraction is a magic pill that works instantly! All you have to do is choose to take advantage of this law, and the results will appear immediately. 

“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. Therefore, guard accordingly and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” 

Marcus Antonius

Negative thoughts blind us from opportunity. Negativity is like having a burlap sack over our heads every time an opportunity walks by. Simply remove the sack from your head, and you will see the opportunities that have always been right in front of you. This is true for everyone. Here is an example of some positive and negative states of being. 

Negative ( – ) Destructive Positive ( + ) Constructive

Pursue Attract
Taking Giving
Superior Equal
Have to Choose to
Persuade Educate
Pessimistic Optimistic
Calculating Candid
Cheap Generous
Suspicious Observant
Conceit Humble
Critical Curious
Resentful Forgiving
Entitled Thankful
Envious Grateful

If you find that your thoughts are often in the negative column, then try to replace those thoughts with their opposites in the positive column. It really is that simple. 

How you think determines how you feel, and how you feel determines how you act. 

Key #24
Vocabulary

One sure way to adjust your attitude is to adjust your vocabulary. You must discipline yourself to eliminate unhealthy words from your vocabulary. Negative words carry negative energy. These words not only harm you, but they harm everyone around you. For the sake of yourself, your family, and your friends, it is imperative that you are cognizant of your influence on others, both positive and negative. How you use your words and the words you choose matter! Whoever came up with the “sticks and stones” thing was well intentioned, but dead wrong.

Here are some examples of unhealthy words, and their alternatives. 

Negative ( – ) Destructive Positive ( + ) Constructive

Can’t Can
Lucky Ability
Difficult Challenging
Scarcity Abundance
Stupid Smart
Failure Negative Results
Failure Delayed Success
Victim Survivor
Excuses Responsibility
Try Will

Just as you have to be conscious of your thoughts, you must be equally conscious of your words. Thoughts and words contain energy, both destructive and constructive. Choosing your thoughts and words carefully is choosing to construct or destruct your life. This is also why it’s best to avoid excessive swearing. 

One of my absolute favorite books is The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. In this amazing book, Ruiz states that the first agreement is to “be impeccable with your word.” This first agreement alone is enough to transform anyone’s life. If your words are always positive and never meant to harm others, then you will be impeccable with your word. Ruiz emphasizes the power of the word and that it is our responsibility to be aware of the power of our words. If you wish to have positive things in your life, then you must be a positive person. Like attracts like. If you are constantly negative, then you will constantly attract negativity into your life.

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Key #25
Act“As If”

To get what you want, you sometimes have to act “as if” you already have it.

To expand further on the Law of Attraction, we must further explore the power of our actions. 

As previously shared: 

Feeling as though you already have it” is a trigger for your mind. When you pull this trigger, your mind puts you into a winning mind-set. If you already feel as though you have what you want, then it’s natural to start acting as though you have it. If you start acting as though you have what you want, then the actions you choose to take will get you what you want. 

The Law of Attraction is also explained by this concept. 

• Feel “as if”

• Think “as if”

• Act “as if”

Acting “as if” can only be done if you have first started feeling “as if” and thinking “as if.” 

Self-doubt happens to all of us from time to time. When you doubt yourself, you have to tell yourself and everyone around you that you are well on your way to achieving your goals. This isn’t being delusional; this is having the correct mind-set to achieve your goals. It’s all about perspective and mind-set. 

In the movie The Boiler Room, Ben Affleck’s character gives a powerful speech to the new recruits. In this speech, he tells them to “act as if.” Although they were not yet accomplished stock brokers, they never would join the high achievers until they were able to “act as if” they were already a part of the club. This isn’t “faking it”; it’s a tool to put you in the correct mind-set. This is the same technique used by coaches of professional sports teams during locker room talks before a big game. The coach will pump up the team by telling them that they “already are champions” (regardless of the fact that they have yet to win a championship). The coach may say something such as:

The trophy is yours; it’s within your grasp. All you have to do is go out there and take it! The other team sure isn’t going to give it to you without a fight, so go and take what is rightfully yours, this is your time!

The coach isn’t tricking his team or manipulating them; he’s putting them into a winning mindset. We humans are emotional creatures. Sometimes we need a little affirmation that we are good enough and able to achieve what we want. If a team goes into a championship game not believing they are “champions,” then they won’t have much hope of actually winning. 

Let us sum up what we have just learned. 

• Perspective and mindset will float you or sink you. 

• A healthy, positive mindset is essential to accomplish any goal.

• With a little wisdom, we can have the strength to ignore those who would see us fail.

• If you refuse to be a VICTIM, you choose to be a CHAMPION!

Key #26
Burn your bridges and commit

Once you have committed yourself to getting what you want, jump in with both feet and go for it. If you only go halfway, if you just dip your toes in the lake to test the water, then you’ll never achieve anything worthwhile. If you want something, you have to commit totally. It’s like sky diving, you can’t just stick your foot out of the plane and test the air. If you want to skydive, then you have to jump.

I remember my first jump and the vision of the plane flying away from me—now, that is what I call a commitment! There is no turning back, no “Plan B,” just me plummeting through the air achieving my goal with no possible way to fail. Once I jumped, failure was not an option. 

The more difficult a goal, the more you have to totally commit. You can’t take half measures; you can’t live within your comfort zone and just dabble at your goal while you keep another full-time job to pay the bills in the meantime. If you are trying to multi-task too much and do a little of everything, then you will end up doing a lot of nothing. We all have to multi-task to a point. However, when you have a challenging goal in front of you, it will demand the majority of your attention and focus to achieve that goal. 

Key #27
Focus

“A person who aims at nothing is sure to hit it.” 

Unknown

Once you have committed yourself to achieving a goal, you cannot allow yourself to get distracted by new, interesting opportunities. If you don’t want to be a flake and a quitter, then you have to finish what you start before you go onto the next round of your life. A good example of this is a former colleague who was one course short of his university bachelor’s degree. He committed almost four years of his life to a goal that he didn’t achieve. Some people will say that a degree is just a piece of paper, but what a degree proves is that you can finish what you start. 

A degree doesn’t tell the world about how smart you are, it tells the world about your character and your strength of commitment. It isn’t easy to stay focused on a single goal for four long years. Any degree has value, regardless of whether or not you end up working in a related field. The feeling of accomplishment derived from any goal that you achieve can never be taken away from you. 

There is power in the ability to focus your energy. As Alexander Graham Bell once said about the subject:

“Concentrate all of your thoughts upon the work at hand. The suns rays do not burn until brought into a sharp focus.”

A singular mind is what has been responsible for all of the world’s great achievements throughout history. Think of focus as having a one-track mind. If there is only one track for the train to go on, then there is only one destination that the train can possibly reach. Each time you are distracted by an unexpected crossroad that comes up, you will be steering away from your original goal. If you make the decision to never take your eyes off the prize, then you will stay on track and reach your destination far more quickly. 

If you are on the right track (your Dharma), then you won’t have much trouble staying focused on the task at hand. The more you travel along a track that doesn’t suit you, the less you will be able to stay focused on the task at hand. 

Key #28
Sacrifice

You can’t always have your cake and eat it, too. To get what you want, you will likely be faced with the decision to let go of something else. 

When you are faced with this choice, simply ask, “What do I want more?” When you have to let go of one thing to achieve another, do it with determination and certainty. Once you let go, don’t dwell on the “what ifs.” “What if I woulda?” is a question that will distract you from your goal. All that matters is what is to come, where you are going, and how to get there. Instead of looking at what you are letting go of as something that you are going to miss, look at it as something that is holding you back. This way you will be happy to let it go, and it won’t feel like a sacrifice at all. If you don’t do this, then you will miss what you’ve lost. If you miss what you’ve lost, then you may well abandon your goal in order to regain what it is that you have given up. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a world champion bodybuilder because of the following four key things:

• Determination

• Commitment

• Sacrifice

• Focus

Arnold didn’t worry about all of the things he was missing out on, such as partying with his friends, chocolate ice cream, or his social life. He knew that if he was to be the best, everything else would have to wait until he achieved his goal. Anyone or anything that stood in his way became an enemy that he would simply defeat so that he could continue in the pursuit of his goal. There were no excuses, and failure was not an option. He was completely committed, and he was successful as a result. Critics would say, “Arnold was just lucky that he has such good genetics.” Yes, genetics are a factor, but they are not the most important factor in wining a bodybuilding competition. Arnold uses the same determination, commitment, sacrifice, and focus in all aspects of his life. As a result, he continues to live a life that is filled with enormous accomplishment. 

What advantage does an Austrian with a thick accent have when trying out for movie rolls as a secret government agent? How many people told Arnold that he was “crazy” if he thought he would ever be a star? Despite enormous obstacles, Arnold has been a success at almost everything he has ever pursued.

Key #29
Advice

To get what you want, listen only to those that already have it! 

I cringe when I think of all the conversations I’ve had with people who will start their justification of a decision with the phrase, 

“I was talking with my mom about this, and…”

There is nothing wrong with Mom’s advice on certain topics, but is she really a credible expert for every topic or issue? As mentioned later in this book in key#36, Mom has lots of wisdom to offer. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t ask a poor person for financial advice or a couch potato for “work out” advice. I wouldn’t hire a dentist to build me a house or an electrician to look at my plumbing. 

A good mechanic always gets the right tool for the job. A successful person always gets the right advice for the topic at hand. 

I know of which I speak! Although my parents are well-meaning and love me very much, they have discouraged me from achieving most of my favorite accomplishments. If I had let them influence me negatively, here is a partial list of things that I would not have done:

• Graduated Battle School (Infantry Soldier)

• Six month UN Peacekeeping tour of Croatia (the former Yugoslavia)

• Rope Rescue team member

• Search and Rescue team member

• Rock Climbing Instructor

• Stealth Rope instructor for the RCMP

• Successfully marketed my own invention

• Got married (they thought it was too soon)

• Built and still maintain a successful business (they thought I should have kept my old sales job)

• Taught “Adult Literacy” for three years as a volunteer (thought I should get paid)

• Regularly contribute to several charities (save my money)

• Buy my dream house (thought it was over-priced)

• Speak basic greetings in several different languages (waste of energy)

• Write this book (need more credibility)

Had I listened to any of my parents’ well-meaning advice, I would not have accomplished any of the above things from which I derived great enjoyment. Deciding to not follow every word of their advice wasn’t disrespect but only a choice to disagree. 

Key #30
Courage

It takes courage to follow any of the advice in this book. It takes courage to change habits, to grow, to learn, or to walk a new path. Until you are able to find your own courage, use the courage of others (leverage). Knowledge and wisdom is all you need to find your courage. With self-education, you will feel your confidence grow. As your confidence grows, the possibilities will start to grow, and your life will begin to flourish. 

One of the keys to finding your courage is to realize that it’s okay to be uncomfortable or fearful of the unknown. Every time you move your life forward, you will be in a new place, in uncharted territory. Every time you grow, you will again be somewhere that you’ve never before been. You must accept this discomfort with the unknown and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Once you acquire this new habit of being comfortable about being uncomfortable, you will again accelerate your rate of growth. 

Confidence: revealed by a positive reaction to negative events.

• Problem-solving attitude. 

• Non-defensive to criticism. 

Non-confidence: revealed by negativity

• Defeatist attitude.

• Defensive to criticism. 

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new…There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” 

Alan Cohen

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave.” 

Mark Twain

“Each of us is a pioneer in our own lives. We’re each charting new territory every day. The people I admire are the people who willingly go forward, no matter what the odds.”

Hillary Clinton 

“Confidence is the hinge on the door to success.”

Mary O’Hare Dumas 

Key #31
Desire

To get what you want, it helps to REALLY want it bad

Desire has a way of finding solutions. If you have a clear desire, then you will tend to see the solutions more than you will see the obstacles. The more intense your desire, the sharper your focus tends to be. 

Desire coupled with the faith in yourself to attain that which you desire is a powerful force indeed. 

“A shot glass of desire is greater than a pitcher of talent.” 

Andy Munthe

“A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means.” 

Henry Hazlitt

“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.” 

Bill Cosby 

“Desire creates the power.” 

Raymond Hollingwell

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal—a commitment to excellence—that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” 

Mario Andretti

Key #32
Action

All of the good intentions in the world will just sit on the shelf collecting dust without Action. It’s not enough to simply have a goal or dream. You must put one foot in front of the other and get going toward your goals. 

Actions and authentic intentions are co-dependant. Each is virtually meaningless without the other. You can do all the right things for the wrong reasons, and your result will not be what you want. You can do all the wrong things for the right reasons, and again you goal will not be realized. Doing the right things for the right reasons means that your actions are aligned with your authentic intention. When your actions and authentic intentions are in alignment, the results are certain to be positive. 

Seeing your goal creates a dream—a dream of attainment. What is far better than dreaming of achievement is remembering it. The difference between dreams and memories is action! 

By having the keys of courage and faith, there is no excuse to not act. Acting alone does not guarantee success. However, if you fail to act, especially when opportunities reveal themselves, your inaction is guaranteed to be rewarded with regret. 

Deciding to act is deciding to avoid regret. Which you would rather have, poor results or regret? Some opportunities never come around again. You don’t always have the opportunity for a second chance. If you understand how to frame “failure,” then your actions will never result in regret. Regret is only possible if you fail to jump on an opportunity. 

Opportunity will always appear to the person who is ready to jump on it. However, opportunity is content to stay hidden from the person who isn’t ready to seize it. 

“The longest journey begins with a single step.” 

Chinese Proverb

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” 

Robert Browning

Key #33
Understanding Excuses

Excuses are tools used by people to avoid responsibility for an outcome. Excuses are also a sign of insecurity and immaturity. A mature person realizes that they are responsible for how things turn out. It may not be your fault when your venture takes a wrong turn, but it is your responsibility. This gets us back to a lack of self-esteem. When you are already feeling crappy about yourself, the last thing you want to deal with is admitting that you goofed up. This same discomfort is a part of the fear of failure. You must recognize excuses for what they are and replace them with responsibility. Excuses state that it’s “someone else’s fault.” You can’t fix other peoples faults; you can only fix your own faults. If you want to make progress, you have to admit to yourself and all around you when you screw up, then take responsibility for the outcome. If this is a new thing for you, it will be really uncomfortable the first few times, but with consistency, it will become easier. Being successful without being responsible for your mistakes is highly unlikely. It’s a matter of maturity. 

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