What you'll learn:
➤ The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Short Summary
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People is a book that teaches you how to be better at both your personal and professional life. It does this by changing how you see the world and by sharing seven habits. If you adopt these habits properly, they can lead you to great success.
This book is incredibly famous. More than 25 million copies have been sold. That’s like giving a copy to every single person in Venezuela!
Stephen R. Covey, the author, probably didn’t know how successful it would be when he published it in 1990. Even after many years, it’s still considered the most important book on leadership and modern management.
Now, let’s talk about the seven habits:
- Be Proactive: This means taking control of your actions and choices. Be in charge of your own life.
- Begin with the End in Mind: Start with a clear understanding of your goals. Think about where you want to end up.
- Put First Things First: Focus on the most important tasks. Do what matters most before anything else.
These first three habits are about making yourself better, so you can succeed personally.
- Think Win-Win: This habit is about looking for solutions where everyone can benefit, not just you.
- Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: Listen to others first, and then express your thoughts. Try to understand before being understood.
- Synergize: Work together with others. Combine your strengths to achieve more.
These three habits are about working well with others, which leads to success in the world.
- Sharpen the Saw: This habit is like taking care of yourself. Renew your energy and keep yourself from getting tired or overwhelmed.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the best 3 lessons from the 7 habits of highly effective people summary:
- Do the funeral test: Imagine what people would say about you at your funeral. This helps you focus on what’s truly important in life.
- Learn how to say no: Sometimes, you have to turn down things that aren’t right for you. Saying no is important.
- Practice active listening: Listen carefully when others are talking. Try to understand them completely before you respond.
It’s time to learn how to be highly effective in both your work and your life!
|7 Habits||How to Apply|
|Be Proactive||Take ownership of your actions and choices. Instead of reacting to situations, act based on your values and principles. Recognize that your responses are within your control, and make proactive decisions.|
|Begin with the End in Mind||Define your long-term goals and create a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Set specific objectives and develop a personal mission statement to guide your actions toward your desired outcomes.|
|Put First Things First||Prioritize tasks based on importance, not just urgency. Focus on the most critical activities that align with your goals. Learn to say no to distractions and less important tasks.|
|Think Win-Win||Embrace a mindset of mutual benefit. Seek solutions that create value for all parties involved in any interaction. Avoid a win-lose mentality and aim for mutually satisfactory outcomes.|
|Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood||Practice empathetic listening by genuinely trying to understand others’ perspectives and feelings before expressing your own views. Create an atmosphere of trust and open communication.|
|Synergize||Collaborate effectively with others by valuing and leveraging their unique strengths. Recognize that combining diverse talents and viewpoints can lead to innovative and more significant results.|
|Sharpen the Saw||Continuously invest in self-improvement across four dimensions: physical, mental, spiritual, and social. Maintain a healthy balance in these areas to sustain lasting effectiveness and well-being.|
➤ The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Full Summary
Everybody wants to succeed, but what does success really mean? For some, it’s financial wealth, but for others, it’s happiness in their relationships or personal growth. Stephen R. Covey, after studying 200 years of literature, realized that the idea of success has evolved.
In the past, it was about character ethics like integrity and courage, but today, it often revolves around personality ethics like public image and attitude.
To truly succeed and make a meaningful change, shortcuts won’t do the trick. You must address the deeper aspects of your life and be open to a fundamental shift in your thinking. This is where the seven habits of highly effective people come into play.
Principles & Paradigms
The journey to becoming highly effective begins by looking inward, starting from the inside-out. In a world dominated by social media, we often present a carefully crafted image of happiness and perfection. But is that what truly matters in life? What if everything you have today vanished tomorrow—would social media followers be a priority? Probably not.
Identifying your core values is the first step towards self-improvement. Before you can change your life, you must dig deep and uncover your fundamental habits and belief systems. These principles are the foundation of your character, guiding you toward your goals.
Principles like fairness, honesty, and integrity tend to lead to success, while selfishness and deceit can lead to failure. Principles are like natural laws, and you’ll reap what you sow. Reflecting on your core principles helps you align with nature, not work against it.
Think of paradigms as the maps that guide us through life. A paradigm is your subjective lens through which you see the world. It shapes your understanding of everything around you. For example, a person with a negative paradigm sees a rainy day as gloomy and inconvenient, while someone with a positive paradigm views it as an opportunity for growth and nourishment for nature.
Shifting your paradigm is essential for lasting change. Once your paradigms change, your character, habits, and behaviors follow suit. That’s why it’s crucial to recognize and monitor your paradigms to identify those holding you back from your goals.
Author Stephen Covey experienced a paradigm shift on a New York City subway one day. Initially irritated by rowdy children, he learned their mother had passed away recently, leading to a shift from annoyance to compassion. Paradigm shifts can change your perspective on situations, and though they may not always happen as quickly as Covey’s did, they can profoundly impact your life.
Unlike social media, where you may try to conceal flaws and imperfections, this book helps you identify and address these qualities. By pinpointing your biggest life challenges, you can examine them from different angles and uncover their weaknesses. Working from the inside-out and changing your habits is the path to self-improvement.
Habit No.1: Be Proactive
Imagine your life as an empty book with blank pages. If you could write your own story, what would it look like? If today were your last day, what tales would fill those pages? Would your story revolve around being a passive victim of circumstances, achieving nothing? Or would it be a narrative of someone who took charge despite their surroundings?
This is where the first principle comes in: ownership. We have the power to control our lives. It’s tempting to blame others for our life situations, but this blame game leads nowhere. Phrases like “It’s not my fault” or “I had no control” often crop up when we face challenges. However, when we embrace ownership, a new principle takes root, and our world transforms.
The principle of ownership compels us to acknowledge that we let ourselves go, but it also nudges us to claim responsibility for our successes. This paradigm shift marks the beginning of the first habit: being proactive.
Proactive individuals take action. They take responsibility for their lives and assume control. For instance, they don’t wait for a health diagnosis to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
They don’t sit around waiting for instructions from their boss; instead, they identify problems and craft solutions. Proactive people actively listen to those around them and don’t wait for conflicts to start communicating effectively.
To distinguish proactive from reactive individuals, envision a “Circle of Concern.” This circle encompasses everything that concerns you, from bills to long flights. Inside this circle lies the “Circle of Influence,” representing things you can actually change. Reactive individuals dwell on the Circle of Concern, while proactive folks focus on the Circle of Influence.
By concentrating on what they can alter, proactive people narrow down their Circle of Concern. Language plays a crucial role in this transformation. Proactive individuals use phrases like “I will,” “I can,” and “I prefer,” whereas reactive individuals lean on “I can’t,” “I have to,” and “If only.”
Reactives believe they’re not accountable for their actions and words. So, instead of saying, “He makes me so mad,” shift your perspective to “I control my own feelings.” This shift from reactivity to proactivity is vital.
Once you recognize that your life is an unwritten book, you can start filling it with the stories you desire. Focus on solutions instead of pointing fingers at external factors for your problems. Change how you react to life’s challenges. Take responsibility, take ownership, and fill those pages with stories of someone who took action.
Habit No.2: Begin with the End on Mind
Think about constructing a house from the ground up. Where do you start? Most likely, you begin by envisioning what the finished house should look like, right? You plan out the house’s layout and meticulously work out every detail. Construction workers then follow this blueprint to construct the house.
Without a clear plan, what mistakes might occur? Perhaps they’d forget something as essential as stairs! Now, picture your life as a blueprint. What’s your ultimate goal? What do you want to accomplish? Planning is crucial for the success of any project, including your life. This is where the Principle of Direction comes into play.
To “begin with the end in mind,” you need direction. Just as building a house requires a blueprint for success, having a direction in life is essential. Highly effective people don’t just toil away hoping that success will magically find them. Instead, they have a clear sense of direction. But how do you find that direction?
One way is to imagine a scenario where your friends and family are attending your funeral thirty days from now. What would you want them to say about you? What kind of life are they describing? This exercise helps you discern the central focus of your life.
Maybe your life revolves around family, money, work, or even yourself. By contemplating the end of your life, you can determine how you want to live it.
Answering these questions leads to the creation of your Personal Mission Statement, which is the first step in implementing Habit 2. Your mission statement serves as a compass, guiding you to take the necessary steps for personal success and happiness.
However, crafting a mission statement isn’t a one-night task; it requires time, patience, and deep introspection. Think of it like refining a blueprint; you may need several revisions.
If you view your personal mission statement as the blueprint of your life, you can begin taking purposeful and intentional action. Just as each brick in a house serves a specific purpose, your actions should have a clear purpose in helping you achieve your ultimate goals.
Habit No.3: Put First Things First
Now that you’ve established your values and principles, how can you translate them into action and live by them? This is where Habit 3, “Put First Things First,” comes into play. How often do you plan your week meticulously, only to end up wasting time on unimportant activities?
You might feel like you have no control over numerous phone calls, meetings, and daily interruptions that hinder your progress toward your true goals. You may have tried various time-management techniques, but most of them focus on efficiency rather than effectiveness.
So, how can you change this? By prioritizing and ensuring that the most crucial tasks take precedence. Set aside everything else for later.
Although this may sound simple, you might struggle to differentiate between important and time-wasting tasks. Fortunately, Covey provides a tool to assist you. The Time Management Matrix is more effective than a standard to-do list. By categorizing your tasks based on urgency and importance, you create a 2×2 matrix.
Quadrant One encompasses tasks that are both urgent and important. While it seems critical, this quadrant includes tasks that become uncontrollable crises demanding immediate attention, such as a deadline-driven project or a house on fire.
Quadrant Two includes tasks that are important but not urgent. This is the most critical quadrant because it contains tasks that truly matter to us. These tasks involve building relationships, planning for the future, and developing essential principles that won’t yield immediate results. Invest your time in actions that enhance quadrant two tasks. For example, if you aim to strengthen your relationships, spend your car ride home calling a friend or family member instead of listening to music or podcasts.
Quadrant Three focuses on tasks that are not important but are urgent. These tasks, like phone calls or meetings, interrupt your day. Prioritizing quadrant three tasks leads to responding to others’ priorities, causing short-term focus and a feeling of losing control.
Quadrant Four covers tasks that are neither important nor urgent, such as binge-watching an entire Netflix series in a day or mindlessly scrolling through social media at work. These activities lead to dependency and can even cost you your job.
So, why should you prioritize quadrant two? As mentioned earlier, these tasks are the most important to your well-being. They involve building relationships, planning, exercising, and preparation—everything critical to your happiness that you put off because you believe you lack time.
But how can you make time for them? By learning to say no to other activities, including those that seem urgent but aren’t. Effective delegation also plays a role.
By prioritizing quadrant two, you begin an inside-out approach to tasks. You start with your core principles, and when problems arise, you see them as parts of a whole rather than overwhelming entities.
For example, when working with shopping-center managers, Covey noticed that while these managers recognized the importance of building relationships with store owners, they spent less than 5% of their time on it. Instead, they dedicated most of their time to quadrant one tasks like answering calls, attending meetings, and writing reports.
Desiring change, the managers allocated one-third of their time to fostering relationships with store owners, resulting in significant impacts. Managerial satisfaction and lease revenue increased. By prioritizing quadrant two, they reframed quadrant one as mere puzzle pieces and said no to unimportant tasks.
To implement Habit 3, create your own matrix, identify neglected quadrant two tasks, and commit to focusing on them in writing. Make prioritization part of your daily actions.
Habit No.4: Think Win-Win
Life is often seen as a cutthroat world where competition is fierce, and some believe that lying and cheating are acceptable means to achieve success. But is life truly a zero-sum game where one person’s gain is another’s loss? Is it necessary to compromise your principles of honesty and integrity to get ahead?
Many in today’s society subscribe to this mindset, believing that winning comes at the cost of someone else losing. However, Stephen Covey offers a different perspective: life doesn’t have to be a competition where one party wins and the other loses. Instead, it can be a win-win situation where both parties succeed, fostering successful and interdependent relationships.
Embracing a win-win mindset may require a shift in your perspective on human interactions. Covey explains six paradigms to illustrate this:
- Win-Win: Both parties win by creating mutually beneficial solutions that satisfy everyone involved.
- Win-Lose: People adopt a “If I win, you lose” mindset, using their power, position, and influence to ensure they get what they want.
- Lose-Win: Those with a “If I lose, you win” mentality aim to please others, seeking popularity and acceptance.
- Lose-Lose: When two “win-lose” or stubborn individuals negotiate, it often results in both parties losing.
- Win: Some people simply don’t care about the other party’s outcome as long as they win.
- Win-Win or No Deal: People with this mindset believe that if a mutually beneficial agreement cannot be reached, then no deal will be made.
In the quest for a solution, it’s essential to seek one that aligns with your principles—a demonstration of the Principle of Abundance. This principle embraces an Abundance Mentality, where you believe there’s more than enough for everyone.
In contrast, those with a Scarcity Mentality believe that one person’s win necessitates another person’s loss, adopting a “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us” mentality.
By thinking win-win, you can cultivate positive relationships, strengthening both parties rather than causing harm. To practice this mindset, identify a relationship that could benefit from a win-win solution.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider what they would view as a win. Then, determine what you consider a win. Aim to devise a solution that incorporates wins benefiting both parties mutually.
Habit No.5: Seek to Understand First, Then to Be Understood
Picture this: You visit an optometrist and explain that you’re having difficulty seeing distant signs. In response, the optometrist removes his own glasses and hands them to you, saying, “These have worked for me for years!
Give them a try; they should work for you!” There are no questions, no tests—just a simple solution that likely won’t help. You wouldn’t return to such a doctor because you can’t trust their approach.
Now, consider facing a challenging period in life—perhaps a divorce, the loss of a loved one, or unemployment. Whose advice do you seek? Someone who has never experienced your situation and can’t truly understand what you’re going through? Or someone who can relate to your circumstances? It’s typically the latter. You trust people who listen to you and respect their advice.
Whether it’s a medical professional or a friend, you trust those who comprehend your perspective, and a key aspect of understanding is active listening. Had the optometrist listened to your concerns, he would have been better equipped to assist you instead of simply offering a random pair of glasses as a solution.
Speaking of listening, the most effective form of listening is empathic listening, a skill that requires a shift in perspective to achieve. Generally, we don’t prioritize understanding others; instead, we focus on making ourselves understood. At any given moment, a person is either speaking or preparing to speak, rarely preparing to understand.
According to communication experts, only 10% of our communication relies on words, while 30% is conveyed through sounds, and a substantial 60% is conveyed through body language. To truly understand others, we should look beyond words and pay attention to the emotions and meanings underlying their speech. Without words, what emotions are being expressed?
While mastering empathic listening takes practice, it’s entirely achievable. Once you acquire this skill of seeking to understand, you can then effectively work on being understood. When we genuinely understand others, we can communicate effectively, presenting our ideas in a way that fosters credibility and trust, rather than diminishing the other person.
Habit No.6: Synergize
Diversity is what makes the world interesting, isn’t it? If we all thought and acted the same way, life would lack its vibrancy, and we’d miss out on valuable learning experiences. The truth is, we need each other.
In the previous chapter, we delved into understanding and actively listening to one another for effective communication. Now, let’s explore how to collaborate effectively through the Principle of Team Execution. This principle emphasizes our need for one another to thrive, highlighting that both independence and interdependence are crucial for productive interactions.
When we appreciate and respect the differences in others’ perspectives, we create the potential for synergy. Synergy is the idea that the combined value of individuals working together is greater than the sum of their independent efforts. In simpler terms, two heads are better than one.
Although each person thinks differently, they each bring something unique to the table that can benefit the greater good. Synergy allows you to open yourself up to new possibilities and opportunities, as well as to listen to different viewpoints and find ways to collaboratively tackle shared challenges.
So, how can you start fostering synergy within your team? Begin by practicing habits 4 and 5, focusing on win-win situations and seeking to genuinely understand others. By valuing the diverse perspectives and opinions of each team member, you can start building something greater than yourself.
Think of it this way: Great movies like “Lord of the Rings” or “Star Wars” aren’t created by a single individual. They require a team of creators, designers, writers, and more. Each team member contributes their unique strengths, enhancing the overall project.
By appreciating the mental, emotional, and psychological differences among people, you can embark on a journey of synergy, creating something much larger than you could ever achieve on your own.
Embracing these differences may take time and patience, especially when dealing with people you don’t easily get along with. But why is that? It’s likely because you and that person think differently. So, how can you become more open to these differences?
Start by listing the individuals you find it challenging to get along with. Pick just one person and identify the ways in which their views differ from yours. Explore how you can find synergy between your perspective and theirs. How can you cultivate a more open-minded and confident approach to their differences?
Habit No.7: Sharpen the Saw
Consider chefs who use their knives daily, tirelessly chopping, slicing, and dicing until their knives inevitably lose their sharpness. Do they toss these knives aside and buy new ones? No, they sharpen them. Similarly, we must devote time to sharpen ourselves physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially. By nurturing these four areas, we can achieve lasting effectiveness.
Physical Renewal: Just as chefs need to maintain their knives, we must take care of our bodies. This means eating well, ensuring adequate rest, and regular exercise to enhance flexibility, endurance, and strength. Staying physically active empowers habit one, proactivity, as you become proactive in your fitness rather than reacting to obstacles preventing exercise.
Spiritual Renewal: Spiritual renewal doesn’t necessarily imply adopting a specific religion; it involves self-examination and mindfulness of your actions. Activities like meditation, prayer, or connecting with nature can nurture your spiritual dimension. This dimension enables you to practice habit two by regularly revising your principles and core values.
Mental Renewal: Keeping your mind sharp involves reading insightful books, journaling your thoughts, and selectively watching TV programs that enrich your intellect. You can also engage in activities like learning a new language or taking courses to expand your knowledge. Enhancing your mental well-being encourages habit three, as you manage your time effectively to maximize your resources.
Social and Emotional Renewal: To cultivate meaningful relationships and renew yourself socially, you must seek to understand others, contribute to meaningful projects that improve lives, maintain an Abundance Mentality, and help others achieve success. Working on your social and emotional health aligns with habits 4, 5, and 6, fostering a win-win mindset, empathetic listening, and synergistic solutions.
If you’re wondering how to nurture these dimensions, start by listing activities that fit into each category. Choose one activity from each dimension and commit to completing them next week. At week’s end, evaluate your performance and reflect on the factors contributing to your success or areas where improvement is needed.
To truly become a highly effective individual, embrace these seven habits:
- Be Proactive: Take charge of your life by assuming responsibility and avoiding reactive behavior.
- Begin with the End in Mind: Develop a clear vision of your future goals and ensure that your actions align with this vision.
- Put First Things First: Prioritize tasks based on their importance, not just urgency, to make significant progress toward your goals.
- Think Win-Win: Embrace a mindset where both parties can benefit in any interaction, fostering mutually beneficial solutions.
- Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: Practice empathetic listening before communicating your own ideas, promoting better understanding and communication.
- Synergize: Collaborate with others, recognizing that their unique strengths can enhance your own abilities and lead to greater achievements.
- Sharpen the Saw: Continuously invest in your physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being to maintain lasting effectiveness and balance in life.
➤ Best 3 Lessons
Lesson 1: Start from the End
Covey’s first habit, “Begin with the End in Mind,” emphasizes the importance of setting your sights on the right destination before speeding down the efficiency highway. Imagine it like this: you’re scaling a ladder with all your might, only to reach the top and realize it’s leaning against the wrong wall. To avoid this scenario, you must first clarify your long-term goals and align your decisions accordingly.
A powerful tool for gaining clarity on your objectives is the funeral test. Ask yourself:
- How do I want people to remember me at my funeral?
- What kind of person do I aspire to be remembered as?
- What accomplishments should define my legacy?
Depending on your various relationships – with family, friends, clients, partners, or customers – consider how many would attend your funeral. As Steve Jobs once said, “All external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
Truthfully answering these questions may reveal that your pursuit of a high-flying, business-class lifestyle doesn’t align with your deepest aspirations. Perhaps, hidden beneath it all, your true passion is dancing. Don’t be afraid to explore these profound inquiries and boldly reshape your life accordingly.
Lesson 2: Say No
Once you’ve charted your course and defined your destination, the art of saying no becomes a crucial skill. Your clear sense of purpose will help you distinguish between what truly matters and what doesn’t. Knowing your ultimate goal provides a built-in filter for assessing the importance of each task on your to-do list.
You’ll often discover that the most important tasks are not necessarily urgent, and vice versa. In such cases, it’s imperative to wield the power of “no.” This isn’t always easy, especially when there’s financial incentive involved. However, as Covey wisely advises, “Put First Things First.”
At times, tantalizing opportunities may appear right before your eyes, tempting you to divert your focus. It’s during these moments that you should resurrect the funeral test: Do these rewards align with your ultimate objectives? If they don’t pass this critical assessment, it’s time to decline.
Drawing inspiration from Derek Sivers, consider adopting the philosophy of “hell yeah, or no.” By concentrating your efforts on a select few endeavors, you can derive profound meaning and purpose from these chosen pursuits.
Lesson 3: Listen More
When you’ve mastered the art of saying no and aligned your efforts with your life’s purpose, you’ll find yourself with a precious resource: time. Time you can invest in truly listening to others. Active listening is a cornerstone of effective communication and, as Covey emphasizes, it’s encapsulated in the principle “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.”
Active listening, akin to our “Coaching 101” principles at coach.me, involves a three-pronged approach to meaningful communication:
- Understanding: Your primary goal is to comprehend the person you’re engaged with, not merely to provide advice or immediate responses.
- Confirmation: Ensure you’ve grasped their message by paraphrasing their words and mirroring their emotions. This confirmation fosters a deeper connection.
- Empowerment: Assist them in structuring their own thought process. By doing so, you empower them to find their own solutions and insights.
In my initial months as a coach, I discovered a fundamental truth: the mark of a great coach lies more in the quality of their questions than in the quality of their answers. This concept deeply resonates with Covey’s principle, “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.” It serves as a compelling call to practice active listening and cultivate empathy.
Much like you’d question your doctor’s judgment if they prescribed hefty antibiotics after just one cough, people tend to distrust those who don’t genuinely understand them. To build trust and rapport, make a conscious effort to listen for understanding, not merely to prepare your response. A simple way to kickstart this practice is by speaking less and listening more.
➤ The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Popular Quotes
|12 Popular Quotes by Stephen R. Covey|
|“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.'”|
|“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”|
|“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”|
|“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”|
|“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”|
|“Start with the end in mind.”|
|“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”|
|“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”|
|“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”|
|“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or, as we are conditioned to see it.”|
|“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”|
|“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”|
➤ The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People Review: Final Thoughts
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a timeless classic that transcends the typical self-help how-to guide. While it may not offer a step-by-step manual, its principles are like a fine wine, improving with age and delivering a profound impact when embraced.
Stephen Covey’s wisdom, though conveyed differently from contemporary voices like Tim Ferriss, shares a core message: prioritize effectiveness over efficiency in all your endeavors.
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People summary is a valuable read for individuals at various stages of life:
- The Aspiring Professional: It’s beneficial for young adults contemplating career choices, especially when faced with the allure of lucrative yet unfulfilling paths.
- Midlife Career Changer: Those seeking a second-half career transition, such as becoming a coach, will find guidance in aligning their aspirations with their purpose.
- Strugglers with Saying No: Anyone grappling with the art of refusal can glean valuable insights from this summary, learning how to prioritize and align their commitments with their long-term goals.
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