Why Your Excuses Will Ruin You | Rich Roll on Impact Theory | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Why Your Excuses Will Ruin You | Rich Roll on Impact Theory".


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Intro (00:00)

I love trying to push the outer edges of the envelope of what the pain experience is in physical sense. Pain is truly the only thing that's ever gotten me to change. So it's been my growth accelerator as well as my reminder of when I've gone straight. Everybody welcome to the new episode. Our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that will help you actually execute on your dreams. Today's guest is an extremely accomplished ultra endurance athlete, best-selling author and host of one of the biggest podcasts on the planet. And proving the age is really just a number, he began his athletic career in earnest in his 40s after a medical scare that made him realize the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. And what began as an attempt to simply not die became an obsession that saw him completely transform his life. In 2009, after decades of alcohol addiction and just two years after being 50 pounds overweight and sitting on the couch for exercise, at the age of 43, he won stage one of the Ultraman by 10 minutes, a seemingly impossible feat when you realize that the Ultraman is a three day, 320 mile, double Ironman distance triathlon. To top that accomplishment, he raced the Epic 5, which is 5 Ironman on 5 Hawaiian islands in just over 5 days. And not long after turning 50, he and his partner were the number one finishing American team in the Otillo swim run world championships, which is a race where you run on land and swim in the 50 some degree Baltic Sea transitioning from running to swimming 52 times. And did I mention that he did it when he was 50 years old? Not surprisingly, men's health named him one of the 25 fittest men in the world, and he is regularly named to other high profile annual lists of the most influential people in the health and fitness space. He's been featured on CNN, The New York Times, Forbes and countless other media outlets for his little laundry list of insane accomplishments. So please help me in welcoming the man whose podcast has been downloaded more than 30 million times, the best selling author of Finding Ultra, Rich Roll. Dude, it's so good to have you on the show. Excited to talk to you.

Rich'S Approach Towards Pain And Personal Growth

Rich's relationship to pain (02:32)

Man, we met through a mutual friend, Ryan Holiday. Researching you was really a lot of fun, and that's one of the ways that I judge who to bring on the show is am I really going to enjoy researching them? And I'll admit my bias was I thought that you were going to be primarily talking about fitness and nutrition, which obviously is a huge part of it, but there's just so much more there. And the thing that I really found interesting was your relationship to pain. So I wanted to start there. What is your relationship to pain? My relationship with pain runs deep and it's complicated. On the one hand, I love pain. I love trying to push the outer edges of the envelope of what the pain experience is in a physical sense. It's also been my greatest teacher in terms of things that I've accomplished, but also my errand's ways as well. Pain is truly the only thing that's ever gotten me to change. So it's been my growth accelerator as well as my reminder of when I've gone astray. That's what I found so interesting about it is in the one hand you talk about how you have to get really comfortable with pain if you want to be able to push yourself to the kinds of extremes that you do, but then that pain is this also really powerful thing that can force you to change. So I want to talk more about that. How have you been able to leverage that? I find that pain often causes people to go into endurance mode and they just like endure the pain, but they never actually, you use the word leverage. You said, I knew if I could leverage this pain, I could really make change. What is that mechanism of really grabbing a hold of it and making it into something usable? I think it's learning to embrace it and not being afraid of it. And for me, it goes all the way back to when I was a young child. I mean, I was a very awkward, insecure kid who had a lot of difficulty making friends and figuring out what the rules for life were. And I was also somebody who was not athletically inclined at all. I was the kid with the eyepatch and the headgear, picked last for kickball and all of that. But the one thing that I was actually fairly okay at was swimming. And when you're good at something when you're a kid and you're having difficulty in other areas, that's what you're going to gravitate towards. And that's what I did. And I learned quickly that I was not the most talented swimmer. But in my early teens, I realized that if I was willing to put in the work and do certain things that other people weren't willing to do, that I could bridge that talent gap and pick up a lot of white space. And that meant getting comfortable with pain to bring it back to your question. So throughout my teens, I would routinely throw down crazy sets in the pool that no one was willing to do. And I was doing it because I knew I wasn't the most talented. And if I wanted to compete at the highest level, that's what would be required. I love that. And by the way, it was so cool that you shared the photos of you with the eyepatch and stuff in your book. I thought that was really neat.

Vision Board (06:04)

How did you go in school? You're being bullied at one point. You see this opportunity to get better. What do you start telling yourself or doing to be able to make pain your friend to push past it so that you could begin to beat other people at something? It's almost like a deep meditative state. And it's a very one to one relationship between the pain that you're willing to suffer and the progress that you're going to make. And I saw swimming as my way forward and my way out. And so what that meant was the more that I was willing to suffer, the more likely it would be that I was going to create a positive trajectory out of this painful scenario that I found myself in. And were you vision boarding things? I mean, how were you staying so tenaciously under your goals that you pushed that hard? Well swimming is a sport in which it's so individualistic and it lends itself to setting very concrete goals. And those goals for me were time standards. Oh, I want to qualify for US nationals. Oh, I want to qualify for Olympic trials. So I would have a vision board where I'd literally write those times out in very large block letters with a magic marker and put them above my bed or on my mirror in my bathroom and constantly reminding myself and reinforcing myself about why I was doing what I was doing. So I don't know that I would have called it a vision board at that time. But it was more of a practice of engaging in aspiration. Like I had pictures of all my heroes and all of that. And I think intuitively I was looking towards a better life for myself. When you went through getting sober, the amount of change that was staring in the face was obviously just Herculean. How did you leverage the pain in that moment to make such profound change? Fear. You know, I was somebody who by the time I was 18 years old was an individual who had a lot of promise. And there was a lot of people very invested in my future. I graduated top of my class in high school. I got into all the colleges I applied to, all the Ivy League. I was a top ranked swimmer competing at the very highest level, world ranked, the whole deal. And so my future looked very bright. And then alcohol got introduced to my life. And it was a very progressive decline in my aspirations. And at the very end I was a daily drinker. I was drinking vodka tonics in the shower in the morning and hiding drinks throughout the day and ending up in blackouts and more than my fair share of incomprehensible, demoralizing situations. And I burned every bridge that I had. I was virtually unemployable at the end. I was sleeping on a bare mattress in a crappy apartment with no furniture in it. My options had been eliminated. My life was eviscerated. My family didn't want anything to do with me. I'd lost my friendships. I had no way forward. And I just continued to dig that hole deeper and deeper and deeper until one day I had that moment that you hear with people who are in recovery, that moment of clarity where I realized I just couldn't live this way any longer. My elevator had gone down to the bottom floor. And I met my paint threshold back to the thesis around pain. I had reached a point where I could no longer tolerate the pain of my current situation. And the fear, the pain associated with the fear of change was eclipsed by the pain that I was feeling in that moment. And that's what motivated me to change.

How to get to the other side (09:59)

I went to a treatment center where I lived for 100 days, which is pretty long time to be in a rehab center. And I did that because I knew if I didn't get this right that my life was done. And so I took that opportunity seriously. I recognized that despite the fact that I think I'm a smart guy, my best thinking had me literally institutionalized and that if I couldn't get a grasp on how to live and develop some new skills and a new toolbox for how to approach my life, that I was going to end up in jail or I was going to kill somebody else or myself. Yeah, so few people make it to the other side of that. The really interesting part for me is the lessons that you learn in that about pain because they come to your aid again in the next phase of your life where now you're post the drinking and you're overweight and you're walking up the flight of stairs and you think you're having the heart attack. And you said that was the moment where you said and I remember you using your hands like I knew if I could, you didn't say grab a hold, but if I could leverage this pain that I could make the same kind of change that I had made in going through rehab. What is that like the thinking process or the machinations that you go through when you have a big change in front of you now, you've done it multiple times? Is it goal setting? Is it imagining the world that you'll have if you don't do it? What is that process for you? That's a great question. I think for me it's really anchored in awareness and presence. On that staircase I was able to really understand that I was having an important moment in my life. And the reason I was able to recognize that was because I had that moment so many years prior when I decided to get sober. It was a very specific moment in time where I made a decision and that decision set in motion a series of events that changed my life so completely that I couldn't imagine my life had I not made that decision. And I was able to see and understand and recognize that once again I was being visited by just such an opportunity. It was something that I could feel inside of me. And I think it's because I had learned to be present, to be aware of myself and my environment.

Chasing pain is a dangerous pursuit (12:30)

And one thing I always talk about is the fact that I'm not anything special with this. I think we're all visited with moments like this in our life that if we can develop that the wherewithal to have the awareness around the circumstances surrounding whatever event it is that you can leverage that crack in the door to make some significant changes. And I'm somebody who, and I've heard you talk about this before, I'm somebody who when I make a decision like that's it, I can step over that line or walk through that door and not look back. Like I can be determined, be focused enough, and diligent enough and dedicated enough to leverage those moments when I make that decision to really make significant changes that stick and stand the test of time. Now I have techniques and tactics that I use to be able to pull that off. Do you have similar things? Like how do you make sure that in those moments of weakness that you actually keep going? I mean for me, I try to keep it as simple as possible. It's about making a decision. And when I make a decision, that decision is done. I've done it with diet, I've done it with fitness, I've done it with my profession. And the more simple I can make it, then the easier it is to adhere. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And now going into leveraging the pain and making it something that allows you to do these extraordinary things physically, how do you shift your thinking about what the pain isn't? I know that you said you agree with Goggins that when your brain taps out, you're really only about 40% of the way there. How do you tap into that other 60%? Experience. We're so conditioned, Tom, to avoid pain. Every message that we see, every billboard we see, every advertisement that we're exposed to is telling us that happiness can be purchased through comfort, through luxury, through ease. And that's sort of implicit in that is that that's how we find happiness. I can tell you that I'm happiest and most alive when I'm butting up against the outer edges of my pain threshold. And I'm not afraid of it. And so when I start to feel that sensation rather than shirk away from it, I realize that's an opportunity to experience a heightened sense of myself and my environment, to really be in a position where everything else falls away and it's just you and your ability to take one step forward. There's a purity to that that, again, is another great teacher.

Techniques to push through (15:18)

And so in terms of techniques, I've just learned through experience that just like David Goggins says, when the signals that you're receiving are telling you to stop, that you don't necessarily have to pay attention to that, that you are capable of so much more. If you can develop the acuity, the presence of mind and the wherewithal to then take that next step. And when you're on the other side of it, to realize you're still okay and you can take another step and a whole, your horizon extends and you realize that there's a whole world of potential impossibility available to you that you weren't previously aware of. All right. So I know it's happening in the mind of the viewer listener right now. They're discounting you because you're extraordinary. They forget that you said, remember, I was a kid with the iPad. I did not take anything naturally athletically that, you know, swimming was something I had to outwork people. They're forgetting all of that already. And they're just saying, well, it's a rich role. He's lean. He shredded. He's been doing this for a long time. Of course, he can do it. But what I want to talk about is take it out of the realm of the physical. The most interesting thing that I've heard about you from you is what happened when you wrote Finding Ultra and you thought, all right, this is it. Dumb being a lawyer. Here we go. Universe, give me some good stuff. And then it didn't quite play out like that. Yeah, no, it definitely didn't. I've been a corporate lawyer for many years. I was a corporate lawyer during the period of time that I wrote that book. And the book was successful. And yet in the wake of that book being published and doing well, the phone didn't ring. And I had let my bar membership lapse. And here I was, ready and available to speak to the world and be of service and the opportunities just weren't flying. It was a very difficult time. And it tested me to my core. I mean, we almost lost our house. I had cars repossessed. We could bear bills. It was very emasculating. But I think the alchemy of going through that has been something that now allows me to speak from a place of greater truth and depth with what I do. So I'm grateful for the experience. I love that man. And hearing you say that I can tell that you really mean that, but I want to paint a picture a little bit more for people. The part that really hit me was when you said that you guys can even pay for your trash to be taken away. And that's when I realized, okay, wait, this wasn't like, oh, things are tight. This was like, we can't pay $60 for our garbage to be picked up. And then they come and take the trash cans away. It was the worst. I mean, that's so embarrassing. It was so incredibly emasculating. Yeah, we went through periods where we literally barely had enough money to put food on the table and we couldn't pay hard. We couldn't pay to have our trash removed. And they did. They came and they took the bins. And then we were compelled to then put our trash in the back of our crappy beat up mini van and find an empty dumpster to dump the garbage. It was not easy. What do you teach your kids? So like bringing this all back to looking at you as like this insanely empowering example of how to use pain in all of its forms. Like what do you teach your kids about pain? Because they watched that happen, right? And they watched you push through and obviously everybody knows you on the other side of this already. So what do you teach them? Like how do you help them assign meaning to that hard time that you know, not being broken and continuing to push? Yeah, it's a great question.

What do you teach your kids? (19:03)

So I have four kids and it's something that was very challenging as a parent. And again, I keep using the word emasculating as somebody who you know is supposed to be the head of household and take care of these sorts of things to be unable to do that was incredibly difficult. I've spoken to my boys at length about this and as difficult as it was, it was an incredible learning experience for them to understand that the world doesn't know you anything. It quashed any sense of Gen Z entitlements or anything like that. And I think it taught them the value of really what it means to pursue a dream and what is required to see it through. I think it would have split up a lot of marriages or families. But we treated it like a board game. We're like, okay, how are we going to do this? Like what's the plan? Let's do it. Let's try to have fun with it and sort of deplete all of the or sort of drain all of the anxiety and tension and fear that can surround it. And when you do that, you realize like, we're going to be okay. That's really extraordinary. And knowing how stressful that must have been it. Yeah, it's there are so many powerful lessons to be learned in there. One thing I'd love for you to give to listeners right now is what did you do? What does and now I'm going to conflate a couple things that maybe you're better separate, but you've talked about this God of your own making. And then so you said your faith was being tested in this time. So you didn't sell out. You didn't like do some cheap thing. And this is what years we're back in like what 2000? Like 2000. This was like 2012 through 2014, 15. Yeah, so it's not like going into podcasting was like an obvious answer to your problems back then. So how did you stay true to the vision when it just I mean you're literally getting picked apart down to not being able to pay for your garbage? I worked my ass off and exploited every opportunity that presented itself.

Working your ass off (21:20)

I did a ton of speaking gigs for free. I did anything that was asked of me, anyone who would want to talk to me, but it was really just a function of showing up, working my ass off saying yes and having a strong core belief that I was on the right path. Yeah, I love it and being able to keep pushing. And that's the part that I really hope people hear is that it's not just sitting back and waiting for something to happen. Definitely not. You know, it's trying everything you can to like really make something, but being true to that mission and knowing what you're trying to bring to the world. I think that's really extraordinary. You mentioned really early on this notion of self-awareness and I want to talk more about that. So one, to have the kind of faith that you had to keep pushing, obviously you have to have a lot of awareness around who you are, who you want to be, what you want to bring to the world. But in going and getting sober and then chasing that with the kinds of physical activities that you do, which are I always want to say the loneliness of the long distance runner, which is a great film all about sort of the way that you can get lost in your head as a runner. And what are some things going through sobriety, doing the distance that you've learned about yourself that are like encapsolatable? That's a great question.

Following Your Personal Path and Goals (22:41)

I think to answer that, I would preface it by saying that I was somebody who for as long as I could remember was pursuing the traditional notion of the American dream. Get into the best college, study hard, get into the best grad school, get the best job, show up early, stay late, partnership track, all of that. But that I'd never really stopped to think, what is important to me? Like who am I? And what am I here to express? And I didn't have answers for those questions. All I knew was that I felt like I was living someone else's life. And so my exploration in sobriety and ultimately then in ultra endearn sports was really my personal method of trying to resolve these issues for myself, to try to learn who I am. I love that. What advice do you have for people that are living somebody else's life? How do you help them get awareness of that and then be once they realize, okay, I'm living somebody else's life and this is why? How do you help them figure out what they really want for themselves? It's an inside job. One thing you talk about all the time is goals, setting goals and being very clear about what those goals are. I think that most people set the wrong goals for themselves and it's because they're disconnected from who they are. They are living someone else's life or they're living a life that's so disconnected from who they are, it becomes very difficult to set the right goal. So I think in order to reconcile that, you have to look inward. And that can be different for everybody. That can mean a consistent meditation practice. That can mean therapy. That can mean starting to do yoga. It can mean many, many things. But I think there's no end run around the very difficult long process of really trying to be honest with yourself about who you are, what's important to you, what you care about, and then beginning to breathe life into those things as frivolous as they may seem to bring expression to the things that you do care about, that get you excited in the morning. And that doesn't mean you quit your job tomorrow. But the more you can foster something that has personal importance to you, I think that's the first step in trying to move past whatever it is that's holding you back, whether it's professionally or personally, to being a more integrated, authentic version of yourself. Even hearing you talk about that, it really sounds like that inward reflection has a spiritual edge to it. I don't know if you'd agree with that. You talked about when you were first going through rehab that the counselor asked you, are you a spiritual being having a human experience or a human having a spiritual experience? And I literally was like, what? I don't understand. And then you said, and I said, what? I don't understand. So walk us through, because I get some context from having seen you talk about this a lot, but help me make that something I can internalize. So yeah, when I was in rehab, I was asked that very question. I had the same reaction that you had. I don't understand what the question means, let alone have any ability to answer it. But I've since come to believe and truly believe that we're all spiritual beings having a human experience. And I don't mean that in any specific dogmatic sense, certainly not in any specific religious sense. What I do mean by that is that there's more to this experience of being human than meets the eye. There's more to it than we can possibly comprehend. And I think there are energies available to us if we open our perspective and become more curious about the world than I think we're programmed to be. So for me, that doesn't, I don't define that by any particular specific spiritual approach, other than that it provides my experience as a human being with a little bit more awe and wonder than I used to have. That's awesome.

Learning How to Let Go (27:15)

Talk to me about letting go. That's like this really important through line in your life that's resulted in this just incredibly beautiful stuff happening to you. As a type A control freak, how does one go about letting go? It's scary, right? Terrifying. Yeah. Actually, wait, I don't experience it as fear. I experience it as suboptimal. So now maybe you can really help me because that's the truth. Right. Fear if I let go, it just won't be done. It's an assault to your worldview. Definitely. Right? That's the truth. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that. As somebody who, as I explained earlier, as a young person, I did the math and I realized if I outwork everybody in the pool, I can be as good as anyone else. If I outwork everyone in the classroom, I can graduate at the top of my class and get into Stanford and Harvard. I'm the only one who can get it done and if you just buckle down and go the extra mile, you will solve the problem and you will make your way in the world. Every success that I had had in my life was a result of myself well. Why won't myself well solve this problem? And that whole got deeper and deeper and deeper until I was a completely broken human being and I had to raise my hand and ask for help for the first time. And that forced me to start to think about letting go and surrender in a new way. And I've come to believe and understand that surrender is a very powerful, courageous thing to do. It's okay to say you don't know. It's okay to ask for help. I had to let go of this operating system and step into a sense that perhaps there's a better way, a greater way that involves me saying I can't control this. Which was terrifying for me. But it is in that process that I allowed people to help me, that I became open to a new way of approaching my life that has made me stronger, more powerful, more capable and more successful than I ever thought that I ever would be. If you had to define in a single sentence what it means to be integrated, how would you define it?

What Is It to Be Integrated? (29:31)

When you're clear on your values and your actions align with your values. That's very clear. That's something that's really interesting. As you were talking about it, I had an intuitive understanding of what that would be in my language. Which I would say for me it's what are the things that you want and then are you actually acting in accordance with that. So here are the things that are my goals but they're my goals because it's something that I entrance into. But why do you want what you want? And if you can't answer that question then you're not integrated. That's interesting. Tell me more. It goes back to what I was saying before about people picking the wrong goals for themselves because they're not integrated. They don't know what their values are. They're not clear on what's important to them. They're not really in contact with their internal muse. One of the examples I always give is this idea that we all have some unique song here to sing on planet Earth. Like I believe that. And that doesn't mean that everybody can be liberal on James or that you have some insane talent. But I believe that there is a unique blueprint to every individual. And our job here in our short time on this planet I know you're going to live forever but like for everybody else is to discover what that is. And to work towards expressing that to the best of your ability. We all have a unique song. And I think most people to echo the words of Henry David Thoreau are leading lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. And I find that tragic. And so if there's anything that my work is about it's about helping people become cognizant of that and to take action so that they don't become that person leading a life of quiet desperation. Which I think I wouldn't want to say most people but a lot of people are. And I find that heartbreaking. I love that you opened your book with that quote. That's one of the quotes that I've probably repeated to myself more times than just about anything else because I've had moments in my life that had been just quiet agonizing desperation. And so I know what that feels like. I love that notion of there's like interference and that you have to clear it out to be able to hear your intuition. Like when you're clearing that out what is the thing that will then happen for that person that will allow them to begin to get integrated like that. Clarity, right? If you're eating garbage food, if you're eating fast food and you're not sleeping and you're drinking five cups of coffee a day or whatever it is you're doing and you're stressed out about your job and you're just living moment to moment to get through the day do you think that you're going to be in touch with whatever is really important to you. You're just trying to like hit the pillow at night and pay the bills and that's most people. And if you give people a minute to pause and reflect and you can clear all of that out and feed them healthy food and give them a good night's rest and ask them questions that most people aren't asking them and they're certainly not asking them themselves. I think that's the process that begins or sets in motion. The gears in the mind and in the emotional body to begin to bring all of that to the surface. What are those questions? Now like I'm going to get the needles over here. Do you have like anything that you start people on to get that the juice is flowing to get the ball rolling? Well it can be as easy as you know what's your major malfunction right now. That's the thing that keeps you up at night. Who do you resent the most? What do you were afraid of? What do you want to achieve? What do you think is in your way? I think just by asking people questions and then holding a vision for that better life for them to say I believe in you. I'm not here to tell you what to do or how to live your life but I believe in your greatest expression. Now I'm going to hold space for you. To give people permission to be honest, to be vulnerable. We're so afraid of being vulnerable. We're terrified of being honest. We're so used to being judged and being held to a standard that society sets for us. That we don't give ourselves permission to even ask these questions let alone answer them. Dude you should create like a downloadable PDF or something like that. No questions but for somebody that doesn't have a place to start that's really really powerful. Alright before I ask my last question tell these guys where they can find you online. I'm easy to find online. Richroll.com the Richroll podcast wherever you listen to podcasts and at Richroll on Twitter and Instagram. Alright my last question.

Rich's Impact (34:40)

What is the impact that you want to have in the world? The great question I would like to move the needle in a substantial and long lasting way for as many people as possible with respect to not only how they think about and practice habits around food and fitness and lifestyle but to really catalyze people to understand that like I said earlier all of us every single one of us is capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe. And I know that's a theme on your show. David Goggins talked about it. James Lawrence talked about it. These are friends of mine who have touched the outer realms of endurance and ultra endurance teaches you that. It's easy to say I'm an outlier but I'm not. I really am not anything special. I had the courage and the audacity to pursue these things and in so doing I have realized that human potential is malleable. We're all sitting atop massive reservoirs of untapped potential and ability. And my dream and my goal and everything that I do is oriented around getting people to not only understand that but connect with that and begin to practice that to manifest that in their own specific way.


Recap (36:02)

I love that more than you can know Rich thank you so much for coming on the show. That was awesome. Cool. Guys when I say that you are going to want to dive into this man's world you will not regret it. This is one of the most extraordinary transformation artists I've ever come across. There is something about people that fall into the ultra endurance category. They've tapped into something in their mind. It's not like they start out as incredible athletes. In fact I think of all the people that we've had on. None of them have started as extraordinary athletes. All of them have found it later. All of them have found it through hard work. All of them have had to realize that if they want to become something extraordinary then they've got to put in the work. They've got to just get in there and hustle. But what I love about Rich is that sense of spiritual transformation as well as just the physical of really using that time to figure out who he is, what he wants and the values. The fact that he lives by a code I'm telling you, rewind this, play it again. He talks about values. You have to know your values. What are your values? What do you really want? And his understanding that those things that you want, they have to be tied to your values. That to me. Once you understand that, once you understand that that has to be at the core of your existence then everything else gets easier. But first you have to know who you are. You have to know what you want. You have to know what you believe and what you're going to live in accordance with. That's so huge. It drips all over everything that he talks about. Subscribe to his podcast. It's absolutely amazing. But even more amazing than that are the interviews that he gives. So make sure you track those down as well. You'll be blown away. Let them change you. Please take action on the stuff that he's talking about. It really will change you and it will change you forever. All right guys, if you haven't already be sure to subscribe. And until next time my friends be legendary. Take care. Thank you.

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