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Published on September 24, 2018

What to Do When Asked About Weaknesses in a Job Interview

What to Do When Asked About Weaknesses in a Job Interview

A job interview can be as close to legal torture in the 21st century that hopefully any of us will ever get.

We’d rather have our pointless appendices’ removed than sit opposite someone who has the power to decide if we’re going to get any money in our bank account and feel like a useful member of society. No pressure then.

So if it’s not bad enough that you spent hours agonizing over the perfect outfit, checking the location (a hundred times) and reorganizing your CV for the 50th time you know at some stage you’re going to feel like you are facing the Spanish Inquisition or feel like you are 7 years old in front of the head master (who can reduce you to a blubbering wreck just by saying your first name.)

How are you supposed to perform well in an environment like that?

How are you supposed to showcase that you are the perfect candidate for the job when you can’t think of one clever thing to say?

And how are you supposed to get around the random questions companies insist on asking, like asking about your weaknesses in a job interview?

Let’s look at how to deal with those tricky questions that can leave you feeling stumped and like you have no chance of getting the job in ways that doesn’t require you to reinvent yourself.

Before you get in there

Who are they?

    It’s not rocket science to know that if you want a job you should do your research on that company:

    • What matters to them?
    • What is their brand like?
    • What does their website look like?
    • Does it talk about individuals, mission statements, ethos, values or charitable work?
    • How do they present themselves?

    Taking the time to learn about the company you are going to aim to work for means that whatever question that comes up you have in your head (hopefully if you actually took notes and really thought about the company) what they want to know and what floats their boat, i.e. you know who they want to work with.

    While anyone can (in theory) work anywhere, we all fit in some places better than others. Some will tell you it’s good to be able to change who you are; however eventually that can get physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting and that’s no good for long term success.

    Knowing who you are looking to work with means you can find out if you actually want the job too and if you don’t it helps you assess what matters to you in your career.

    Who am I?

      Turn on the TV, phone or laptop and just by watching an advert, you can work out what they are selling, what age it’s intended for, what kind of person it’s aimed at and even where their ideal demographic likes to eat or travel to.

      None of that is by accident.

      A strong brand attracts the right people. And just like organisations want to attract the right customers they also want to attract the right staff. Therefore before you even get to the interview really take the time to answer the questions above on yourself:

      • What matters to you?
      • What is your brand like?
      • What do you look like online?
      • What is your mission statement, ethos, values and charitable interests?

      Let who you are exude through every question you are asked. This also enables you to appreciate why you would really like to work for this company.

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      You’ve taken the time to assess if their values, beliefs, products, etc match up to what you want and that helps you to connect regardless of whether you get an answer wrong or not.

      This also means you have prepared some of the things that you want from that organization too. Are you looking to stay in that job for the rest of your life? Are you looking to learn new skills? Are you looking to be a part of a bigger team? Are you looking to take on the big challenges that face society?

      Knowing this information can really help because interviews are not just about being asked questions it is about the ability to ask effective well thought questions too.

      Practice, practice practice

        Interview skills is a bit like any communication skill especially public speaking; you need to consider what you want to get out of this communication and they want to get out of this communication too.

        To do this, it is about having the right skills and the right mindset. Like public speaking or any communication where you have a vested interested, an interview’s results can be damaged by not ensuring you look after both the mindset and skill set.

        For instance, you could have an awesome positive attitude; however if you’ve not done your research and physically prepared accordingly, you could still fail. Likewise, if you have all the right skills but lack the right mindset, again you could fail. To get around this you need to be prepared mentally.

        This works well for big moments in life too. Really visualize walking away from the venue, secretly grinning from ear to ear because you got exactly the result you wanted, i.e.:

        • How do you feel?
        • What was said?
        • What is going to happen next?
        • What are you wearing?
        • Where are you?

        Craft the result in your head in every detail.

        Why is this so important? Because in life, we can’t always plan for what is going to happen however we can be determined to get the result we want. And by being determined, we can ensure we keep heading in the right direction. Essential for interviews where you don’t actually know what is going to be asked of you.

        In the room

        How you act

          I’m very aware that so far I’ve not told you what to say to those difficult questions that really throw you and that’s because if you get everything else right, those questions (and their answers) become less important because overall you’ve still had the chance to shine and impress.

          When you walk in that room, you want to look like you should be there (and are pleased to be there) but not like you own the town. Arrogance can cost you the job and there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

          Make eye contact. Are you the kind of person that can get served first in a packed bar? Then it’s a good chance you’ve sussed eye contact. Eye contact is not just about the eyes, it’s about your body too. How do you stand? With confidence?

          Do you look like a bunny trapped in the headlights of a car? Or happy to be here?

          This works on two levels, first it makes you look confident and secondly, it makes the other people in the room feel more comfortable. Try changing the way you sit and act in a room and watch how those around you can change too. We feed off other people.

          How you breathe and speak

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            A space in a sentence is not the same as an “Um” pause. Know the difference. One has confidence the other is feeling out of their depth.

            Practice lots of kinds of questions and practice out loud your replies. As someone that has helped a lot of people become successful public speakers, I know the importance of breathing for you and your audience.

            So practice, because where and how you breathe can impact on the way you come across:

            • What is their style? — Know the style of the person asking the questions.
            • Do they speak fast?
            • Do they like to use jargon? (Or do they hate it?)
            • Do they speak quietly or loudly?
            • Do they speak in long sentence?
            • Do they ask open questions or closed?

            These and more give you clues into the interviewers preferred way of speaking and if you can naturally mirror their language, terminology, tonality and phrasing the interviewer can feel like they are building a rapport with you.

            Don’t overdo it though, because that can be creepy and put them off!

            Down to the evil interview questions

            Think of it from the interviewer’s point of view, they’ve got to fill a position in their organization and they want their business to be the best. They want to know that the person they ask these questions to will be perfect to fit in their team, make the difference and help them achieve what they aim to.

            A big responsibility to achieve all of that in a few questions. So how can they find out who someone really is? How can they work out what is true in your CV and what you researched on line as the “top 10 things to include in your CV”?

            These questions are a mixture of tedium of asking the same question so many times, researching what questions you should ask (yes, it’s not just the interviewee that will hit the search engines!) and trying to ask questions that enables them to remember the individual behind each answer. So let’s look at what to say:

            I don’t know

              Not knowing the answer is not against the law and no one knows everything. So if you don’t know the answer, the first rule is don’t lie. You will get found out.

              Think about this right now, what could be an answer to a question that you don’t know that enables you to look honest and keen to learn more and capable in areas around this subject?

              Preparing some answers (Out loud so you can hear how they sound) means you can feel more prepared. And while I could write the words to say, they would be my words and not natural to you and so could come across as fake.

              The key to shining in an interview is allowing who you really are to shine through. (If they don’t like that, it could be this is the wrong company, not you’re the wrong candidate!)

              Don’t’ be a politician

                Another dangerous approach is to keep talking without answering the question. This is an infuriating technique that could cost you points. Think about answers that you can give that showcase what you do know in this field.

                “I’ve not had a lot of experience with xxx however I’ve had great results using xxx and it led to a xxx% increase in sales so I feel I have the right skills to migrate to xxx”

                Thinking about what you are good at and how it relates to the job you are going for means you can prepare lots of answers like this.

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                When working with someone who is looking to pitch to an audience or engage an audience with an idea that they may not (initially) like, you don’t want to tell the audience what to think, however you do want to answer the negative questions that are in their heads.

                The same applies in an interview. What questions do you feel would worry you if an interviewer asked them of you? How could you alleviate their concerns in prepared answers?

                Proof is in the pudding

                  When you are faced with tough questions, be prepared with examples of how successful you’ve been in the past.

                  For instance, when I first trained as a coach many years ago, I didn’t want to tell people I was a newly qualified coach (newly qualified can sound amateur and not up to the job, right?), so I steered my answer to the fact that I was 1 of the UK’s youngest female automotive Body shop managers with over 20 years experience in business.

                  Proven experience, right?

                  Think about successes in your career and how they can feature in your proof.

                  Steer clear of extravagant exaggeration

                    While it’s important to showcase “why you” with proof and to be confident. No one likes a big head, so be mindful of your language.

                    I’m over enthusiastic at the best of times, so I have to be mindful of my audience and ask myself “is this the kind of language that makes them feel comfortable or am I making myself stand out for the wrong reasons.”

                    Feel free to say “I had a xx% increase in productivity from the team thanks to this idea;” however, avoid “It was due to my brilliance that I created this system that helped the department increase productivity by xx.”

                    How does your choice of language impact on the way you come across? Are you someone that risks exaggeration or exuberant language?

                    Know when to shut up

                      If you are digging yourself in a deep whole with an answer that goes nowhere. Know when to stop talking.

                      Taking a moment to prepare your prospective replies can help with this. If you’re concerned about not talking or having an answer, repeat their question back to them in this style: “That is a good question, ‘what is my view on my ability to deal with xxx?’” and in doing so, you create the space to think.

                      Thinking is not banned in an interview. If anything, a well prepared reply says you are confident in your own skin and are taking this seriously instead of just splurging out the first thing that comes into your head.

                      The answer for “What is your biggest weakness?”

                      They ask the question that you feel can only make you look bad, so how do you handle it?

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                      Remember the reason they are asking you these questions is because they want to find out who you are really are. They need to know who they are employing, so remember they are not trying to trick you.

                      Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has new things they need to learn. Everyone has something they wished they had handled differently. Everyone has something they’ve said they regretted.

                      Think of a moment in your professional life that you wish you had handled differently. How can you word it so that it sounds like you not only recognized the need to do something differently but learned something powerful from it too?

                      If you want to see how this works. Listen to the radio and a seasoned pro turn any question around so that they get to talk about what they want to.

                      I once trained a team who were likely to end up on the radio. They knew they weren’t going to be asked to speak about their business (which they wanted to) and it was likely to be a conversation about something random like mince pies. I remember one member of the team saying, “this is impossible” only for us to change their style of communication that meant within 2 sentences talking about mince pies had turned into talking about what the business was doing locally.”

                      It takes practice but can be done and is a skill you won’t just use in interviews, you could find yourself using this in every area of your life.

                      Another skill to copy from presenters and those great at TV and radio is their ability to bat the conversation back to the other person in a respectful way. While the interviewer is keen to hear you speak, it’s important to know when to stop talking and enable the interviewer to take control of the conversation again.

                      A big issue for candidates is that they are so keen to say everything relevant to the subject that has been raised that they don’t know when to let the interviewer take back the conversational control.

                      By practicing what you are saying and what you want it to say about you, you will feel more comfortable with giving the control back.

                      Final thoughts

                      I heard a story years ago that the English Rugby team were playing atrociously. They then employed a coach (not a sport coach, but a coach like myself) to help the team perform better.

                      One of the strategies they put in place was that in the second half, the team would come back on the pitch in a clean kit. This enabled them to feel fresh and new to the game bringing a new attitude and mindset.

                      I’ve been unable to find any proof of this story (and I’m always keen to verify what I share with you). However, I can tell you that this clean kit approach has worked with many clients who’ve found themselves making a mistake and not wanting 1 mistake to spiral into a cacophony of failure.

                      That they stop dragging up what has gone wrong. Stop the panic from escalating and start as if this is the very beginning. It’s powerful because the brain gets itself back to a positive state.

                      Thus if you find yourself drowning in a bad answer, let it go and concentrate on the result you want. And get that fresh feeling of “I’ve arrived and will do my best” or “If I’m not right for them, then they are not right for me.”

                      What could be your go to thought that gets you back to fresh thinking be?

                      Ultimately an interview is like any powerful communication you have in your life. Be it at work, at home, your child’s school, your parents doctor or even trying to get a flight out of a fog bound city.

                      The skills you learn to communicate powerfully can have a knock on effect across your entire life. So it’s worth investing some time and honing your skills.

                      Featured photo credit: Andrew Worley via unsplash.com

                      More by this author

                      Mandie Holgate

                      Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

                      13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride How to Stop Racing Thoughts When Your Mind Won’t Let Up How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding) How to Effectively Set Goals in Life to Get Where You Really Want to Be What to Do When Asked About Weaknesses in a Job Interview

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                      Last Updated on February 21, 2019

                      11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation

                      11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation

                      How do you motivate yourself? We all want to maximize our time and do more of the things we love to do but sometimes we get stuck in the ‘getting ready’ process.

                      We want to live every day with a clear intention to get closer to achieving our goals and living a happy, successful life. We want to get better every day but we never actually jump off.

                      The most powerful form of motivation comes from self-motivation. You can light your own fire.

                      It is not enough simply to wait for inspiration to start you moving forward. It doesn’t have to be something that happens to you, it can be something that you create.

                      All progress and motivation starts with taking action. One action will lead to another. Action will create better outcomes and new experiences for you.

                      When my coaching clients are suffering from distraction, I simply get them to start taking action. To get fired up. To do something specific.

                      This may be getting up earlier, or committing to doing exercise daily. Even if it’s doing something for just 5 minutes, it’s often that little push that it enough to get them going.

                      If you focus on a small number of things to create the change you want, it can have a dramatic effect on your business and life.

                      Here are 11 things you can do right now to take that jump and in the process of increasing brain power, memory and motivation.

                      1. Simplify Your Life

                      By creatively planning your life, it allows you to simplify. Delegating and eliminating activities that don’t motivate or excite you ensures you maximise your time and focuses your energy on achieving your goals.

                      It’s really hard to stay motivated when your mind is confused and cluttered with all of the projects and tasks you need to do. But if you can simplify, if you can carve away the unnecessary, your life will become more focused. And more focus leads to more motivation.

                      What areas of your life could you simplify?

                      One way you could do it is to combine tasks. Think about two things you want to do and see how you could combine them into one activity.

                      The author Marilyn Vos Savant takes this one stage further in her book Brain Building in Just 12 Weeks. She recommends that we make a list of every small task that has to be done, say, over a day or a week-end and then do them all one after another.

                      Essentially, you are fusing lots of smaller tasks together into one task and completing them all together. So rather than doing one task on one day and another task on another day, it becomes a focused blitz to get lots of little things completed all together.

                      This frees us more time and gives you a sense of accomplishment, that increases motivation.

                      2. Focus on How Far You’ve Come

                      One of the things that stops us being motivated and causes procrastination is that we measure our success not from how far we’ve come, but how far away we are from our dreams and ideals.

                      If we can change our thinking and become more conscious of how our brain is working, we can set ourselves up for success.

                      We’re often at our happiest when we use our brains to problem solve, visualize, achieve and measure our progress.

                      If you talk in specifics rather than generalities, there is an opportunity to feel happier and more energized.

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                      One way to do this is to start training your brain to measure specifics, which grounds your feelings in reality and can boost motivation.

                      Rather than focusing on your ideal, think about what you’ve achieved from a specific starting point.

                      If your goal is to lose 14lbs in the next 6 months and you’ve lost 3 lbs in the first 3 months you have two choices. You could focus on the fact that you’re still 11lbs away from your goal or you could focus on the fact that you have lost 3lbs since you’ve started.

                      The second option will allow you to celebrate success and build motivation and refocus your mind to lost more weight whilst the first option may focus your mind on how far away you are from your goals.

                      Let your brain set your own goals and have your own experiences.

                      3. Set Measurable Goals

                      This follows on nicely from the previous point. When I work with coaching clients we always set specific, measurable 90 Day Goals.

                      This is great for motivation and training the brain to focus only on things that are specific and measurable.

                      When we are making real progress towards our goals, it makes us a lot happier. We are motivated and inspired.

                      We all sense where we are in the present moment. The past has gone and the future is well, the future.

                      In this present moment, we feel like we’re making progress, moving forward in the right direction or we’re not. We can’t stop time. We can only make better use of our time.

                      If you’re not happy with the progress you’re making, you may start comparing with others which can make you feel a lot worse and stop motivation in their tracks.

                      So, think about what goals you want to achieve for the next 90 Days. Ask yourself what is the meaning/purpose behind each of the goals.

                      Write the goals down. Put specific measurements against each goal and visualise what achieving the goals will mean to you in terms of your own personal progress.

                      4. Shift Your Motivation from Getting to Giving

                      Some people only focus on what they can get out of life and relationships. It’s all about me, me, me.

                      “When you change the way you look at things; the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

                      However, if you come from a position of serving and helping, and being more consciously awake to the world around you, your mindset can shift from merely receiving to giving.

                      And when you create this shift, coming from a space of giving, your brain starts coming up with more and more creative ways to spread more and more abundance.

                      It’s far more satisfying to focus on giving. If you really focus on this, it can become a true purpose and focus for you.

                      Rather than focusing on simple transactions, you focus on deepening relationships and doing things that will genuinely make people happy.

                      If you focus on giving and gratitude and surround yourself with people of a similar mindset your motivational energy will always be high.

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                      There are also additional benefits. When givers come together the results can be so much bigger than on an individual level as everything has the capacity to be multiplied.

                      When your motivation is to give your brain will think of more and more creative ways to do that. Random thoughts will pop into your head and you’ll find more creative ways to improve other people in both your business and personal life.

                      If you aren’t sure what truly motivates you, this will help:

                      What Motivates You And How to Always Stay Motivated

                      5. Create and Repeat a New Habit

                      Sometimes, the smallest shifts create the biggest results. When you start a new habit, whether that’s going to the gym, creating videos or improving your speaking the key is consistency and repetition.

                      By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you create incremental improvements.

                      If you want to start a new morning routine, the key is repetition. If you want to start meditating, the key is to stay with it. If you’re gearing up to run a 5k, the key is to run every day and build that strength and stamina.

                      If you have a vision of yourself as someone who doesn’t complete projects, then you think of yourself as that person. But if you tell yourself every day you’re a world class ‘project completer,’ you’ll begin to think and act like that person.

                      If you’re procrastinating on a big project, just start small and do something to move it forward, even if only five minutes. The next day work on that project again.

                      The key is deciding what you want to improve and then working on that thing every day. A 1% improvement every day can produce big results in the end.

                      Bonus tip: Here’re How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

                      6. Direct Your Subconscious Mind Before Sleep

                      Many successful people never go to sleep without a request to their subconscious mind.

                      “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious” – Thomas Edison

                      Your brain is a fantastic problem solving tool. If there are decisions you are struggling with or a project you’re looking for answers on, just spend a few minutes before you go to sleep visualizing the challenges, ideas, questions and experiences.

                      You can follow a similar process with your goals. Visualize your goals every night and visualize what the achievement of those goals will look like.

                      Your subconscious mind will then go to work, creating different connections and ideas. When you wake up, write down everything that comes to mind and then put things into action.

                      You’ll be surprised how amazing your subconscious mind is: Why Sleeping on a Difficult Problem Helps You Get the Answer

                      7. Focus on Your Environment

                      The people who you spend time with will change your life in one way or another. Surround yourself with people and things that support you in your business and life.

                      Cynics can pull you down with them but supportive people will motivate you to becoming even more happy and successful.

                      Throughout every day, we have choices regarding what we spend our time on and who we are going to spend our time with.

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                      You can be with people who stifle and bring your energy down, or be with people who inspire your creativity and celebrate your success.

                      Spend more time with people who make you feel more alive and happier and see where that takes you.

                      8. Express More Gratitude

                      When you come from a place of expressing gratitude both to what you have and the people around you, the change can be immense.

                      If you express gratitude for what you have, you are less envious and fixated on what other people have.

                      When you express gratitude to the important people in your life, it changes how you perceive them and how they feel about you.

                      Gratitude increases your energy and your feelings of abundance. With gratitude, everything is appreciated.

                      Gratitude also makes you a lot more creative and deepens your motivation. Handwritten notes, more expressive feelings, instantaneous notes or calls to the people that matter most become commonplace.

                      The thing about gratitude, though, is that it requires an active pursuit in all areas of your business and life. It’s not about what that person has done for you. It’s about how you feel about them, and their value to you.

                      Here’s a quick exercise:

                      Think about the people that are most important to you.

                      Next, write down 5 things you are grateful for, or appreciate, about that person.

                      You could tell them the 5 things or just keep it to yourself and sense how you are with that person the next time you meet.

                      Another important focus for gratitude is yourself. What are you grateful for today?

                      Taking the time to look inwardly and appreciate what you have built momentum and motivation and makes you a lot happier.

                      If you want to learn more ways to practice gratitude, check out these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

                      9. Increase Your Energy

                      Energy is a huge motivator. If we are fired up or excited about someone or something, we are usually very motivated.

                      Think about the last time you achieved something important. I’m guessing your energy and motivation was high?

                      If you’ve beaten your best time on the track, or lost the weight you wanted, or won a big piece of business, your energy will be sky high and you will want to dive back in again to improve your previous performance.

                      When we are excited and motivated about the things we are doing, we bring high levels of energy.

                      If you could spend more time doing the things that excite and motivate you, what would that mean for your business and life?

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                      High levels of energy produce continual growth and give you higher levels of confidence.

                      Try this:

                      Pick three things that give you high levels of excitement and motivation. Commit to spending at least one more hour on each of the things every month.

                      See what you can achieve. If it brings in the results you want, aim to spend more time on those 3 things and remove 3 things you want to spend less time on.

                      10. Visualize Your Ideal Future

                      If your motivation is lacking, try focusing on the purpose behind what you are doing or on how it plays into the larger goal of what you want to accomplish.

                      One great way to increase your brain power and motivation is to start thinking bigger and then challenge yourself to think bigger and bigger about your vision of your ideal future.

                      Where would you like to be in 3 years or 5 years’ time? What is your bigger purpose in your business and life? What would have to happen to make you happy with your progress?

                      Identifying and then focusing on your bigger vision gives you the feeling of working on something greater and being part of something bigger than yourself. It gives deeper meaning and purpose to your daily life.

                      If you are putting long hours into something or making a lot of sacrifices to achieve something, it will help put things into perspective and ensure your motivation stays strong.

                      Want to begin again with your life and live your ideal future, but you really don’t want to give up what you have now?

                      You don’t have to! Here’s the proof.

                      11. Take More Actions

                      If you’ve been resisting taking on a big project for a while, be that at home or at work, everything else in your life can begin to suffer.

                      Sometimes, you just have to face your resistance and fear and do what you’ve been avoiding. That one thing, could make a real difference to your life.

                      We all have lots to do and sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.

                      The key is to prioritize so we make the best use of our time and make an internal commitment to just get started.

                      One of my clients was very close to finishing a new online course but there were some things she was avoiding and procrastinating over. It was very easy for her to fill her time with social media updates, shiny new things and check out the things her competitors were doing to avoid taking action. She knew she was neglecting something really important to her personal goals and putting off things that mattered to her.

                      I got her to focus just half an hour at the beginning each day for a week on this project. That amount of time grew as her excitement and motivation increased.

                      She felt more excited and motivated by just getting started again and doing the work. This newfound energy also impacted other aspects of her life.

                      She felt more in control and knew she would succeed. Just by taking one small step and getting started.

                      Conclusion

                      Here are some things for you to consider as you reflect upon this article:

                      • What’s motivating you right now?
                      • Are you as inspired as you want to be?
                      • Are you open to new experiences?
                      • Are you continually learning new and better ways to live?
                      • Are you putting those into practice?
                      • Do you want to be more motivated and inspired?

                      Hopefully this article has provided some insights and you can use some of these tactics to help you live every day with a clear intention to get closer to achieving your goals.

                      More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

                      Featured photo credit: Pete Bellis via unsplash.com

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