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You Are Stronger Than You Think

Brendon Burchard

October 16, 2017

I have never liked the phrase “hit rock bottom.” It assumes someone has plunged into the darkest
fathoms of life, and like an inanimate object, now rests there forever, fixed in the mud, with no hope
of rising.
And so when someone says to me, “Brendon, I’ve hit rock bottom,” my first impulse is to
ask, “Have you really? What does that mean to you?”

There is no doubt that when people say they have hit bottom, they mean it. The phrase is
incredibly personal. But sometimes the only way through our own truth is to look outside of
ourselves for perspective. Most of what the bottom feels like is still a few dozen meters
above someone else’s dilemmas or tragedies. Often the bottom is just the height of our self-
doubt.

Related: 6 Tips for Overcoming Self-Doubt

We must be cautious of defining our life’s situation as “the bottom” or “the worst,” or acting
as if we’re somehow forever hopeless. Once you believe you are at your worst point in life,
it gets even harder to find the enduring drive it will take to swim back up. Perhaps you’re not
as deep as you think, and if you stopped looking down and instead looked up, you might
see some light breaking through. Maybe there’s another angle. Maybe someone has faced
the very struggle you’re dealing with and survived—even thrived. Could it be you are not
alone in the dark, that others would help if you reached out? Perhaps it’s true you have
been sinking, but it’s also true that you still have sight of something to be thankful for,
something to still grasp at in life, something deeper than your problems that says, “I still
believe.”

Maybe this is optimistic. Like I said, if we feel we’re at the bottom then that’s our truth. But I
simply suggest that’s not the truth that will empower you to rise above. The real truth is
rarely, “I’m incapable or unlovable or doomed for the rest of my life.”

Related: Say This, Not That: 7 Responses for Common Negative Thoughts

I’ve had the privilege of working with people who have faced impossible odds and terrible
tragedies, the worst life could throw at them. And they still believed. Moms who lost children
to cancer. Lovers who were cheated on. Entrepreneurs who risked it all and went bankrupt.
Soldiers whose friends died in front of them. Good people who wanted to give up… at first.
Were these people at the bottom? Most of them didn’t think so. They refused to bucket
themselves or their situation in the it’s-doomed-for-life column. They considered if they were
at the bottom, and then realized they were barely midway through life. They said, “There’s
always a new day. I can do something, even if today that only means taking a shower
and keeping a good attitude.” They looked around and counted their blessings. They saw
how others had it even worse than they did but still managed to smile, carry on and try. That
stirred belief.

Never let the weight of life’s challenges sink all hope. You are stronger than you think, and
the future holds good things for you.

Why You Need to Identify Your Strengths


Know your strengths to focus your vision and boost performance.
Crystal Ponti

November 26, 2017


“Play to your strengths.” You might read it on a billboard or a T-shirt. But what does it really
mean? I’ve always assumed that my strengths align with the things I do well. I’m a leader,
excellent at multitasking and extremely detail-oriented. I was surprised to learn that
strengths are, in fact, mostly independent of skills. Skills are things we learn. They come
and go throughout our lifetime. Strengths, on the other hand, align more with our personality
traits and overall character, which are relatively constant, though they can be further
developed and refined.

Related: Answer 3 Questions to Identify Your Strengths

Identifying your strengths helps you build a life that lies at the intersection of passion, skill
and demand. If I had properly identified my strengths earlier in my career, I might have
avoided a five-year period of treading water in a profession that seemed a perfect match for
me at the time. Only later did I realize that the technical and redundant nature of the job
clashed with my personality and need for diversity.

It seems obvious: The more you understand what you’re naturally good at, the more
success you’re likely to find. But, as I discovered, taking a personal inventory can be
misleading, so I turned to a strengths-finder test. Although not a new concept, Tom Rath’s
best-seller StrengthsFinder 2.0 popularized the idea of focusing on our positives instead of
trying to make up for our negatives.
“When we identify and take pride in our strengths, we can open our eyes more clearly to the
realities of our current situation and empower ourselves to act and enact change,” says
Alexis Conason, a New York-based clinical psychologist.

Related: To Be Successful, Do What You Do Best

Now there are hundreds of strengths tests, paid and free, available online. I used a tool
developed for Red Bull called Wingfinder. The survey assesses your strengths in four key
areas: creativity (including curiosity), thinking (intelligence and fluid IQ), drive (ambition and
motivation) and connections (interpersonal and self-management skills). The Values in
Action Inventory (VIA), Clifton Strengths, and Reflected Best Self Exercise are three other
popular self-assessment tools that can help you pinpoint your strengths. VIA and
CliftonStrengths rely on your thoughtful and honest insight, while the Reflected Best Self
Exercise relies on input from others.

The assessment defined my strengths as direct, open to experience, autonomous


and disciplined. People like me leap enthusiastically into the unknown, enjoy working
independently and can be relied on to deliver.

Of course knowing your strengths isn’t enough. I have a ton of wild ideas that I often keep to
myself for fear of rejection. The assessment suggests I begin sharing my imaginative
perspective with others. Bringing my ideas into the open might help me discover a new
project or passion.

If you’re not sure how to put your strengths into action, consider hosting a strengths party
with your trusted peers. Share your results with each other and brainstorm ways to
implement them in your daily lives. After all, the first step doesn’t have to be big to cause
change.

How ‘Unlearning’ Can Prepare You for the


Future
Margie Warrell
|
November 24, 2017
“Everything that can be invented already has been invented.”

―Charles H. Duell, Director of U.S. Patents, 1899

“Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.”

―Former President Grover Cleveland, 1905

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”

―Lord Kelvin, President of the England Royal Society, 1885

Needless to say, time has proven these statements to be a little (or a lot) misguided. Yet
had you lived in that era, you likely would have viewed the world through a similar lens.
Many people shared these opinions. These people were among the most brilliant minds of
their time. And yet we know now that the things they held as absolutely certainties were
based on limited and inaccurate information.

Of course, it’s far easier to look back and see where people foolishly clung to old
assumptions than it is to see where we may be making the same mistakes.

Related: Why Do You Do What You Do?

We all want certainty and predictability, because our brains are wired to look for patterns.
But in order to succeed 10 years into the future requires that you be willing to step back and
challenge your assumptions and certainties in the present. You’ll need to ask more
questions, proffer less answers and be willing not just to learn, but to unlearn and relearn.

Research shows that people who are more adaptable in how they approach challenges and
opportunities are more likely to leapfrog over those who are more rigid. As sociologist
Benjamin Barber wrote, “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the
successes and the failures. I divide the world into the learners and non-learners.”

This begs the question: What is it that you need to unlearn right now? And what should you
relearn in new and better ways in order to get where you want to go?
We’re all born with an intense desire to learn. Without it, we would never learn how to walk
and talk and function in the world. Yet the older we get, the less open we can become to
learning. It’s simply more comfortable to stick with the familiarity of what we think we know
than it is to venture out onto new ground and have to learn new information, new processes,
new technology, new skills and new ways of being in the world.

But at what cost does that comfort come? Adult education experts predict that up to 40
percent of what college students are learning today will be obsolete a decade from now
when they’ll be working in jobs that are yet to be created. Indeed, the top 10 most in-
demand jobs today didn’t exist a decade ago. To say that we live in a changing world is an
understatement.

Related: 22 Ways to Become a Relentless Learner

But here’s the deal: You can’t become who you want to become by staying who you are.

Unlearning is like stripping old paint. It lays the foundation for the new layer of fresh learning
to be acquired and to stick. But as any painter will tell you, stripping the paint is 70 percent
of the work, while repainting is only 30 percent. Accordingly, the key to unlearning and
relearning doesn’t lie with the teacher. The burden is on student. It requires an openness
to challenging your stories, questioning your assumptions and letting go of old knowledge,
which time has rendered obsolete (however hard you studied or worked to acquire it!).

As you’re reading this now, you will have countless certainties and assumptions running
your life. Many of them serve you, but I’ll bet a few don’t. Like the queen in Alice’s
Adventures in Wonderland who thought of impossible things for half an hour each day, you
want to train your mind to be more open to ideas that, at first, seem impractical, impossible
or outright absurd. Here are a few suggestions from my book, Stop Playing Safe:

Let your imagination run wild.


Rein in what’s realistic and unleash your imagination to come up with as many ideas as you
can, even if they seem crazy. If you think of a hundred stupid or impossible ideas, but one
of them works, then consider it time well spent! When nothing is sure, everything becomes
possible. As Erich Fromm once said, “Creativity requires the courage to let go of
certainties.”
Reverse your assumptions.
When I work with teams, I often have them list and then reverse their assumptions to fuel
fresh ideas. Being forced to approach something from a totally different angle often
generates new levels of creative thinking that ultimately leads to better ways of approaching
problems, seizing opportunities or serving stakeholders. Management guru Peter Drucker
says managers should recognize the value of ignorance: “You must frequently approach
problems with your ignorance; not what you think you know from past experience, because
not infrequently, what you think you know is wrong.”

Practice “vu déjà.”


You know that weird feeling of déjà vu when you find yourself somewhere and could swear
you’ve been there before, except you know you haven’t? Vu déjà, a clever term coined by
author Josh Linker, is just the opposite: looking at a familiar situation as if you’ve never
seen it before. Practicing ignorance is easier said than done, given that your brain is
uploaded with special “pattern recognition” software that makes us constantly scan for
patterns to match with those stored in our memory bank. When you see something, your
first instinct is to conclude that a pattern is the same as one you’ve seen before, which
leads you to react the same way as you have before. The problem is that often this isn’t the
case, particularly when your environment is changing rapidly. So even when things are still
managing to produce a satisfactory outcome, it still pays to look at a situation or problem
with a fresh set of eyes.

As philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote, “It’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a
question mark on things you have long taken for granted.” Go hang some more question
marks! It may help you let go of those certainties, discover new answers and get to where
you want to go infinitely faste

To Reach Your Next Big Goal, Follow the 10-80-


10 Rule
John C. Maxwell

November 27, 2017

So you have a new project in mind—a major undertaking, a shift in direction, the kind of
thing that will put your company on the map or reaffirm its dominance in the market.
And you are feeling a little... overwhelmed.

This leadership thing is not for the faint of heart. Even after all of these years, a new venture
gives me both a rush of excitement and a flutter of nerves. There’s a lot at stake, after all:
money, time, reputation.

Related: 12 Ways to Turn Stress Into Productivity

That’s why today we’re going to rethink the project cycle, simplify it, and focus your energy
on the time periods when strong leadership is most critical: in the beginning and the end.

I call it my 10-80-10 rule. You give 100 percent of your attention to the start and end of the
endeavor, and let your team drive it—with an occasional tug on the reins—during the long
middle. I’ve adapted this from the Pareto principle, the idea that 80 percent of your results
come from 20 percent of your input.

So let’s start at the beginning, where leadership will either set your team on a road to
success or leave it stranded with no GPS and only a vague notion of where to go.

To get started, they need four things from you: vision, direction, creativity and
empowerment.

Vision
What do you see? Why is this undertaking important? What could it accomplish? How could
it benefit the organization or its greater goals? Where does each team member fit into the
equation?

I emphasize the last one because many emerging leaders forget to address it as they lay
out their ideas. If team members don’t know their roles, how can they feel invested? If they
don’t see themselves in the picture, why should they buy into it? Trust me, your project will
go further if your team is fully engaged.
If team members don’t know their roles, how can they feel
invested? If they don’t see themselves in the picture, why
should they buy into it?

Direction
When you cast the vision, you need to come behind it with concrete directions. Your team
members can be inspired by an idea, but they become secure with direction. This is where
many leaders come up short. They have the vision but they don’t know or don’t articulate
what it takes to get there.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it,” Thomas Edison once said. Don’t let your ideas
linger indefinitely with no means of making them real.

Creativity
When I say to offer direction, I’m not talking about step-by-step instructions. Chances are,
after all, that you’ve wandered into uncharted territory. Your team needs to know their
destination, who is driving them at each stage, what deadlines they’re expected to meet,
what resources they have and what limitations (if any) you set.

How they arrive at that end point is a different conversation. A project’s first stage is its most
creative one. Now is the time for unconventional thinking, for exploring every possible
means of achieving the vision. Once you get into the heart of the project—the 80 percent—
creativity might impede progress. But at the inception, let imaginations run wild. The best
ideas don’t just appear; they evolve. Give them wings.

Related: 4 Ways to Be a More Collaborative Leader

Empowerment
Leaders who insist on micromanaging will quickly find their overreach slows workflow,
squelches creativity and deflates people’s confidence.
Give your team the tools they need: materials, training, research, time and money. Gen.
George S. Patton famously declared as he surged through France, “At the present time our
chief difficulty is not the Germans, but gasoline. If they would give me enough gas, I could
go all the way to Berlin.” Fuel your staff, and then get out of the way.

I have to admit: This is tough. I’ ve learned the hard way that trying to oversee all aspects of
a new project is simply too daunting, too complicated and too frustrating. During a project’s
middle phases, I transition from project manager to chief cheerleader. This stage is messy,
filled with flops, setbacks and unanticipated detours. I’m there to breathe into my team’s
spirits and encourage them to persevere.

So that brings us to the project’s end phase, and time for you, the leader, to jump back in,
full throttle.

Add your voice.


There’s a reason you are the leader. You’ve lived the hard knocks, tallied the successes,
learned from the rise and fall of others. Give the project your unique stamp. Your
experiences have given you the wisdom and insight to elevate the creation even higher.

Acknowledge the contributions.


Find opportunities to openly praise and publicly celebrate the work of your colleagues. Your
acknowledgment will validate their work, fuel their growth, inspire them to offer even more to
your organization—not to mention earn you additional respect as the leader.

Seek additional opportunities.


You’ve birthed a creation for a predetermined purpose, but what else can you do with it? I
worked for years on creating my Maximum Impact Club lessons, amassing a library of audio
recordings. One day an associate suggested we bundle and sell my top 100 lectures. I
confess: I scoffed at her idea. Who would want to hear me for that long? But she convinced
me otherwise, and she was right. That collection generated about $1 million. You’ve opened
one door by simply breathing life into your creation. How many other knobs will you turn?
Remember: No business opportunity is ever lost. It’s just if you fail to see it, your competitor
will surely find it.
Etch the 10-80-10 equation into your mind and let it guide—and simplify—your next
endeavor. By channeling your energy into a project’s beginning and its end, you’ll focus
your skills where they count and pull them back when it’s your team’s time to shine.

Try These 30-Day Challenges to Unlock Your


Inner Greatness
Tara-Nicholle Nelson

May 1, 2017

Every system, including you and your life, has a limiting factor—one resource or trait that
most limits how much the system can grow. If you want to push your life to new levels, the
single most powerful way to do that is to accurately identify what your limiting factor is and
focus every ounce of your being on deactivating it.

When you do this, you expand your capacity versus changing your conditions. Most of what
we do when we set goals is make lists of conditions we want to change: I want to launch
this business. Grow this business. Get a new boss. Get a new job.

But conditions are never the things that really limit your success. When you focus on limiting
factors, you grow your capacity to do two things:

1. Master the ability to change whatever conditions you want, whenever you want.
2. Experience limitless love, joy, enthusiasm, ease and flow right now, where you’re at,
regardless of conditions.

These two things will change your entire trajectory.

Related: These 5 Questions Will Define Where You’re Going in Life

I’ve found something that works to remove all sorts of limiting factors: 30-day Challenges.
When I use the word challenges with a capital “C,” I’m talking about something very
particular:

 Doing a certain activity (or, I suppose, not doing a certain activity)…


 That I don’t currently do…
 At a certain frequency…
 For a certain number of days.
I think of challenges as self-directed projects to change my behavior or spark some
personal growth or development. Sometimes I want a mindset shift or to make (or break) a
habit. Or I just have a sort of big, capacity-building project I want to finish.

Here are three 30-day challenges that have worked wonders for removing some of the most
common limiting factors on myself.

Related: Doubtbusters: Erase Self-Limiting Beliefs

1. 30-Day Writing Challenge


I’ve run a couple of 30-Day Writing Challenges. The challenge is just to write something
every day for 30 days, but you can add any guidelines you like, such as a minimum word
count (I recommend aiming for 750 words a day) or a particular approach to the writing.

Here are three ways to frame this challenge successfully:

 Mental Windshield Wiper: A daily freewriting practice, a la Morning Pages, where you just
do a brain dump first thing in the morning. It clears your emotional slate before you start the
day and clarifies your thinking.
 Purposeful Progress: I’ve seen people use their writing challenge to crank up momentum
on a long-stalled project, get out of perfectionism and procrastination, and just start creating.
I’ve had participants develop e-courses, write plays and write 30 blog posts in the 30 days.
I’ve also seen people write well over 25,000 words—that’s half of a book!
 Prompting Personal Growth: You can use various writing prompts to spark reflection,
metabolize past experiences, and move forward with new learnings and mindset shifts. In my
free challenge, I provide the prompts. But if you want to do your own, any and everything you
read, meditate on or see online can become fodder for reflection and a powerful prompt.

Doing a 30-Day Writing Challenge will increase your capacity for groundedness, churn up
your momentum for shipping projects versus procrastinating, and spark productivity,
creativity and innovation.

2. The Necessary Endings Challenge


Reading Henry Cloud’s book Necessary Endings triggered a series of powerful shifts in my
life and my business. It gave me permission to release relationship patterns, habits and lots
of projects that were dysfunctional or draining resources from the projects that mattered the
most.
The idea of turning Cloud’s pruning approach into a challenge is to build your capacity to
spot necessary endings and handle the hard decisions and conversations involved in
putting an end to the projects and patterns that aren’t working.

Here’s how it works:

 Spend Week 1 brainstorming every morning for 15 minutes on these questions:


o What projects, relationships or patterns in your life or your work are either mediocre,
ailing or totally dysfunctional?
o For each thing you identify, is there any reason to have hope that these patterns will
change? Are the people who aren’t performing doing things of their own volition to
improve? Are projects things that can be leveled up, and is it worth doing that,
considering the other things you could do with those resources? Are broken
relationship patterns showing signs of change, or are there external forces at work
you can reasonably expect to change them (e.g., therapy, coaching, etc.)?

 On the last day of Week 1, pick one, two or three “necessary endings”—projects or
patterns that aren’t working and show no signs of hope—to work on for the rest of the
challenge. The bigger the necessary ending you choose, the more time you should give
yourself to do it. And although you might be tempted to go on an ending spree, you might
want to limit yourself to ending one thing at a time.

 Tackle each of these endings the remaining weeks:


o First, plan the ending. Are you ending a relationship or just a pattern? How do you
plan to pull it off? Will you get resistance? Will you need help? What’s your ending
strategy?
o Then, metabolize the experience. Process it, ideally in writing. What can you keep
from the experience that serves you? And what do you need to release?
o Finally, execute the ending and memorialize, in writing, the recapture of time, money,
energy and even joy that you experience once it’s done. Keep in mind that breaking
relationship patterns can often be an ongoing project versus a one-and-done
moment in time.
This Necessary Endings Challenge builds your capacity to identify and execute needed
endings to patterns, projects and relationships. It teaches you how to pull lessons from
things that aren’t working when you bring them to a close. It helps you recoup the energy
you’ve been putting toward mediocre things so you can reinvest it in the projects
and relationships that matter the most.

3. The Contribution Game Challenge


The Contribution Game is something I learned from Ben and Roz Zander, husband and wife
co-authors of The Art of Possibility: Transforming Personal and Professional Life.

This one is super-simple and super-rewarding. Every day, spend 15 minutes before you
sign on, check email, dive into your to-do list or head out into the world sitting with this
question: How will I be a contribution today?

Meditate on it. Visualize it. Journal about it.

You’ll find, after 30 days, that this simple challenge increases your capacity to experience
joy in your work and your life. It increases your capacity to be eager when you start your
day. How? It gradually resets your worldview from the black-and-white of success and
failure to how you are impacting the people and the world around you. I think you might find,
as I did, that removing limitations on your eagerness and joy unlocks a fresh new source of
energy and changes, well, everything.

How to Handle Fear at Work


Chaka Booker

November 27, 2017

I recently participated in a leadership retreat with 20 leaders of small to midsize


organizations. At some point during the first day, the question of whether one should lead
with fear became a topic of discussion. The reaction was unanimous: Leading with fear is a
mistake, and fear has no place at work.

The following day brought a different discussion—this time about constructive


feedback and sharing difficult news with team members. Most of the leaders described the
apprehension they felt going into these conversations, and the stress they felt during them.
There was ample discussion about aggressive, inflexible or entitled team members.
These leaders, who one day earlier had denounced fear in the work place, were afraid.

Related: 5 Ways to Overcome Your Most Common Fears About Work

Leadership based on fear should not be an aspiration. But don’t convince yourself that fear
doesn’t live in your organization. And don’t believe that fear can be eliminated. You can
minimize it, but it will never go away. Instead it takes different shapes and rests in shadows.

Your job is to know where fear lives and what to do when it emerges.

Recognize fear as a signal.


Based on the comments at the retreat, there was a general reluctance to push back on
team members who consistently pushed back on them. Leaders are often afraid of being
viewed as inflexible or unopen to new ideas. They hesitate to stand firm with equal force,
even if the people pushing are on questionable footing.

You must give your team members voices, but that isn’t your only job. You must also
determine if their points are valid. If you have a strong sense of how your organization
needs to operate, and if what they are advocating for isn’t a good idea, then you can’t be
afraid to hold your position.

That is why those moments of conflict are important. They communicate what you stand for.
Those moments are when you must take responsibility for helping them understand why
their perspectives aren’t aligned with yours. Fear of conflict is not something to eliminate.
Rather recognize that feeling for what it is—a signal guiding you toward a conversation you
need to have.

Shift the fear.


Fear is often discussed in the context of top-down leadership—hot tempered, dictatorial,
condescending, etc. In most work environments, however, you are just as likely to find
instances of team members behaving in a similar fashion. And when they do, their
colleagues are noting how it is managed. Some leaders don’t confront bad behavior due to
a misinterpretation of servant-leadership. They are afraid to use their structural power. But if
they don’t, they will soon see a negative effect on the team and the culture.
If this description fits you, understand that structural power lets you shift fear, and
sometimes that is needed. Remind yourself that you shouldn’t be the one afraid. The person
exhibiting bad behavior should be afraid. Transfer the fear by telling them what the
repercussions are if their behavior continues. Be direct, specific, and don’t mince words. It
should be done in private, but the change in behavior will be seen in public. It isn’t a
newfound respect for the organization that will shift their behavior. It’s shifting the fear from
you to them.

Related: Why You Should Look Your Fears in the Eye and Smile

Share your fears.


Some leaders are afraid to upset their team members. Others are afraid to show any
weakness at all. To hide imperfections or concerns, these leaders pretend to be fearless.
They project the image that they are all-knowing, believing that will make people follow
them.

It is problematic when leaders don’t share their fears with their followers. When leaders
don’t acknowledge they need help, no one helps them. As a result, they feel isolated and
misunderstood. This heightens the issue because eventually every leader stumbles. When
they do, they will not only struggle managing the aftermath, their team won’t understand
them nor what caused the problem.

Perfection doesn’t exist, and everyone knows it. If you try to portray perfect leadership, your
team won’t fully believe in you. Don’t be afraid to show imperfection. It will help people see
themselves in you and understand what you face. This in turn draws people to
you. Leadership despite imperfection is a marvel that gains far more followership than
feigned perfection.

Face fear together.


There exists a powerful, quiet fear that lives between peers. It stays hidden, but you need
only mention “peer feedback” to raise the anxiety level of anyone in earshot. Suddenly fear
is born.

Most people value feedback, but they also know relationships are important. To keep the
peace, colleagues avoid giving each other feedback or they simply focus on positive
feedback—neither of which drives improvement. Your job is to teach them that constructive
feedbackmight not feel good, but it is good.

Role-model how to effectively receive feedback by having your team give you feedback in
groups. Use that opportunity to demonstrate how to listen, absorb and adjust. Make
feedback a normal part of any process in which employees are collaborating, not just
performance reviews. If you have capacity, provide feedback training for your team. Giving
feedback is hard. That fear doesn’t need to go away entirely. Teach your team that peer
feedback is evidence of a colleague willing to face a fear for them. It will strengthen their
relationships and the individuals on either side.

Fear is an emotion no different than sadness, joy or anger. Unless you want to rid your
organization of feelings entirely, don’t presume you can rid it of fear. Too often, leaders try
to make their environments free of fear and simply absorb it themselves. Too often, leaders
deny its existence and then are surprised by the fruit it bears.

Your job is not to absorb fear, eliminate it, nor build upon it. Your job is to know the places
from which fear is likely to emerge. Your job is to recognize its purpose. And when fear
arrives, your job is to be prepare