STRESS? HERE’S WHAT TO DO

One of my favorite philosophers, Mr. Rogers has a good suggestion when it comes to stress. This, I must confess, sounds easy but is not. When we see others under stress, it is easy to be compassionate and understanding. At least for a person reading this blog I assume it would be. However, if you are one of two or even several people involved in a stressful situation, this becomes quite a bit more difficult. There are two parts of this equation and I think we deserve to look at each of them here briefly.

The first part tell us in times of stress we should listen with our ears and our hearts. This means not only hearing the words the person is saying, but really doing our best to understand where they are coming from. We should never make assumptions and always ask for clarity if we do not understand. We should also be aware that in a stressful situation, most things said that seem angry, hurtful, or just plain mean, can be veiled cries for help. Not everyone is skilled at communicating in regular situations, much less when they are under stress. When we think of listening with our hearts, that involves a great deal of compassion for the person sitting across from us (or on the phone, or in a text or email) This can prove very difficult especially if that person seems to be attacking us or, as Norman Vincent Peale used to say, “Using biblical terms in a very unreligious way.” This difficulty is multiplied several times if we also happen to be under stress. What a difference it would make if we were able to accomplish it? Even putting forth the effort will make a great impact.

The second part is just as important. We must be assured that our questions are as important as our answers. When we provide an answer, we are more addressing the other party’s concern that getting an answer to our own. How great does it feel to know that our feelings and concerns are important to the party we are talking to? How do we think the other party would act if they felt their questions and concerns were not as important as our own? I can’t imagine the discussion would be very healthy or productive. We must not only tell the other party their questions are important, we must also show them. We do so by repeating them back to make sure we are addressing them. By listening, not just to reply, but to understand. This is a small difference that has a huge impact on the conversation.

While involved in a stressful discussion, let us do our best to remember the party we are involved in the discussion with has feelings and concerns that they need to know are important. They need to be heard with both our ears and our hearts. It is not easy, especially if we are also under stress, but it is necessary. We may not succeed 100% of the time, but that does not mean we shouldn’t do our best 100% of the time. It may help to sing this very popular song from Mr. Rogers before we begin our discussion.

HOW TO BECOME WEALTHY

I’ve always been a fan of Bob Marley. Well, at least since my friend Kevin introduced me to him many years ago. Although we may differ in our recreational habits, I admire a great deal of his philosophy. Like the quote above. There is one caveat I would add to Mr. Marley’s quote. integrity and positive influence, you couldn’t buy it for all the money in the world. If you do not believe me, try walking into Walmart and asking what aisle integrity is in. I would love to see the look on the face of the employee trying to help you with that one. No, I believe these things are true wealth.

As this week draws to a close, try shifting some of your time spent focused on material gain to increasing your integrity. Not only with others but with yourself. Think of the standards you have. Do you always live up to them? I would say it is difficult to do all of the time and that there is always room for improvement. That is one of the great things about being a human being, there is always room for improvement. Do you always keep your word with others? What else could be included in your definition of integrity?

How about your ability to affect those around you positively? How much do you work on that? Do you just do so in the moment or do you spend some time thinking of it? Do you try to incorporate being a positive influence in every area of your life? That is something I can honestly say I am proud of is that I work very hard to be a positive influence on all of those I come in contact with. Whether that is at the Post Office during my day job, as a writer here on this website or in my books, or even when I am simply ordering a pizza. As mentioned above, there is always room for improvement. I keep trying to find new and better ways to bring joy and positivity to others. Perhaps that is why I order so much pizza, but I digress.

I can honestly say that when I feel I am being my authentic self or a affecting those around me positively, that is when I feel the wealthiest. The better I find myself in these two categories, the wealthier I feel. How do you measure wealth? How do you feel your bank account would add up by Bob Marley’s definition? I would love to hear your answers.

A SECRET TO AN AMAZING LIFE

Today is Wednesday, the middle of the week, so we are going to keep it light. Just because we are going to keep it light does not mean we still cannot share some valuable information. Today we are going to look at one of the main secrets that I use to help keep my life amazing. This is not only something I have read about, there is a great deal of science to back it up, but something I have used, and still use, in my own life. This secret not only provides an amazing life, but it helps you live a long life too. It is why George Burns and Bob Hope lived to be 100. It is why Mel Brooks is not only still alive, but still working at the age of 95. Hopefully, this same secret will have me sharing my thoughts with you for at least another 50 years.

What is this great secret and what on earth does the picture above have to do with living an amazing life? The great secret we are going to talk about was best described by Steve Rizzo, author, stand up comedian and motivational speaker. He calls it “Getting in touch with your Humor being” I will include the link to one of his entertaining videos at the end of this blog. In short, he encourages us to find the humor in our lives. So many situations provide humor that we often take them for granted. Sometimes they require us to stop and think of things for a moment instead of rushing from one thing to another. Very often, if we approach life looking for the humor we will find it.

Now to explain the picture above. This was taken at one of the shows Margie and I DJ. Took the picture myself…in the men’s room. Let me begin by explaining that is not a place you will usually find me pulling out my phone to take a picture. Come to think of it, unless there is some very odd or strange occurrence, you will never find me taking pictures in the men’s room. No ‘bathroom selfie’s’ for this fellow. Here is why I took this picture, and more importantly, why I am sharing it with you. First of all, the obvious. It is a sign urging you to practice social distancing. This is not a problem that often occurs in the men’s room. We are all pretty good about maintaining distance. That was the first thing I found funny about the choice to place the sign there. Then I realized yet another humorous side. Not only is this social distancing sign in a men’s room, but it is taped to a condom machine. It would almost seem as if they are urging you to observe a practice that would make the need for this machine totally unnecessary.

Perhaps you don’t find this situation as funny as I did. Maybe you find it more. The point is that in the middle of this evening, it was a part of reality that I could find the humor in and that added a little bit of joy, no matter how off-color it may seem, to my life. Do this often enough and you will begin to see the humor, often the absurdity of life. This will certainly help when the bad times come. I would love to hear some of your humorous events from your own life. The more we share with each other, the more we can help our humor beings to shine through.

Link to Steve Rizzo Ted Talk

IT TOOK 8 YEARS, BUT IT IS HERE!

The cover of my new book!

On a cold day in December of 2013, my first book A Happy Life for Busy People, was released. It featured some of the best blogs I had written to that point. Focused primarily on happiness, that book was my first dive into the vast ocean of writing. In reflection, that seems like a lifetime ago. My life was different, and I was a different person.

Before that book was even released for sale, I had begun writing the follow up book. The idea was to live a life that felt like you were on vacation, no matter where you were physically. The first step was learning to do this myself. There was much research involved. I interviewed people who seemed to keep a positive resolve despite the most negative of circumstances . I also read and researched countless books and articles on positivity, productivity, spirituality and many other topics related to life satisfaction. I gave many seminars and spoke with those who attended to see what their experiences and challenges were. Through this very blog, I have had the pleasure of connecting with wonderful people from around the globe. I even took a trip to Jamaica with Margie to reconnect with how it feels to actually be on vacation. All in the name of research of course.

Over the next 8 long years, I began to write, rewrite, and try out many of these ideas. In the course of discovering how to turn my own life into something I loved, I had to overcome many of the obstacles we all face from time to time. Loss of a job, loss of those we love, loss of friendships and even the addition, loss and addition again of some extra weight. Realizing life is multifaceted, I began to work on improving one area at a time. Doing so allowed me to gain momentum for improving my life. I began to discover what worked in each one. Some worked in several areas, some methods had to be employed differently depending on the situation.

As you can imagine, this also required making many mistakes. Each one was a valuable learning opportunity. I knew the more mistakes I made and learned from, the less you, my reader, would have to endure. I discovered not only what worked, but how to put it to work in your own life. Imagine instead of waking up with dread, you wake up with a sense of passion and purpose for the day? As you’re going through the day, the feeling of being stressed replaced with one of inner peace? Imagine being able to do all of this without switching jobs (unless you want to), partners or even winning the lottery? Imagine being able to do all of this by using simple secrets that take mere minutes a day and are enjoyable too! You will watch your life improve like magic all while enjoying the process! You may be thinking, “Neil you are living a dream!” I would tell you that you are correct! You too can be Living the Dream by getting your hands on my new book! It can start the day you read the very first page!

Busy People enjoying a happy life!

Last book we showed you how to have a happy life, even if it is a busy one. In this new book you will learn many amazing secrets including, but not limited to the following. You will learn the three levels of life you must master. You will learn how to develop a champion’s mindset. You will discover the essential keys to success and how to use them to unlock any door in life you please. You will be given the magic pill that will transform your life and learn how to become immortal. I will share with you the four-letter word that used to offend me, but now helps me transform my life for the better and accomplish great things with amazing speed. How about relationships? You will learn the one word the will allow you to get inside anyone’s head and know what makes them happy and what does not. Would you like inspiring stories filled with secrets about how others created the life of their dreams? You will find that in your copy of Living the Dream as well! I am so excited for you to get your hands on this life-changing book and begin to turn the life you have into the life your love! Do yourself a favor and click the link below and order your copy today. I look forward to hearing all of the great things it will allow you to do in your own life.

CLICK THIS LINK TO START LIVING THE DREAM!!

DON’T HIDE

Growing up, many of us did things we thought were silly just to fit in. We wanted to be part of that certain peer group. Looking back some of these things may seem kind of foolish. One thing that we may have done as well is hide aspects of ourselves we thought people might not like. Perhaps we worried about not seeming ‘cool’ enough. We liked a movie we thought everyone might make fun of us for. Maybe there were even certain friends we didn’t speak to because they didn’t fit that cool group we were looking to be a part of.

I did a lot of stupid things while I was growing up. I think we could all claim that statement to some degree. One thing I was proud of is that I never let anyone decide who I should speak to or be friends with. Even at an early age I realized that all of us have value in different ways. To my everlasting joy this has brought more to my life to most anything else I can think of. The gift of relationships I had formed back then and since have brought me countless blessings.

One thing I did do, and continued to do through adulthood is keep some of who I am to myself. We may worry that revealing too much will leave us vulnerable and open to criticism. It is something I suppose we begin in our teens and carry with through adulthood. We don’t want those at the office thinking we are some kind of weirdo. As we grow older it seems more difficult to make new and deep friendships. I am not 100% certain as to why that might be, I suppose there are several reasons that factor in. So we hide little bits of ourselves in hopes we may not offend too many. We also do want the added drama that comes with showing our true nature. There are times when this is prudent. If you know someone has passionate and opposing views on politics or religion for example, it may be wise to avoid broaching those subjects.

If, however, we really want to develop deep and lasting friendships we should be our complete and full versions of ourselves. As long as we are not hurting others, we should let our light shine as bright as it can. This does two very important things. First, it lets people know who you really are. You may find people who share the same interests that you have you may have considered weird. Like to go ghost hunting? Do you enjoy visiting classic diners? Perhaps you have an interest in bird watching? (these are all true of me btw) The more you put this information out there, the more people will know and you will find yourself crossing paths with those who have similar interests. Even friends who might not share your exact interests, may have a different friend who does and introduce you. Attending events that center around these interests can introduce you to a whole new group of friends. This is something that seems to be difficult as we grow older. Will there be a few who still may give you a hard time or even belittle you for your interests? I am not going to lie, the answer is ‘yes’. There are simply those who haven’t grown up yet. It could be that they are doing so because they are afraid of revealing who they truly are. It could also be that they are just jerks when it comes to that. Which is information that is good to know as well.

The second, and perhaps more powerful thing that being your authentic self does is provide freedom. It can give those around you the freedom and courage to be their authentic self. Margie does this for me to this day. I can still be slightly guarded, and with her free spirit and silly humor can give me the courage to open up a little more.

What I think living life as the truest version of yourself does the best is give you personal freedom. It allows you to live life with a passion and inner joy that those who hide who they are will never fully experience. It also helps you grow and blossom to become even more of what you were born to be. If there is one thing this world needs it is people living the life they love.

In a personal example, I used to keep my self-improvement studies and interests to myself. I figured “who would be interested in this anyway?” I thought it may be to ‘new age’ for some people. I was right, but to a much smaller degree than I anticipated. This is true for almost any interest. What was interesting was that I began to include a circle of new and wonderful people from around the world who share this passion. I have been able to offer them some insight and they have done the same for me! The more of myself I let show, the more free I feel and the deeper the sense of inner peace I experience.

It takes bravery and courage to show the world who you are. The payoff is a group of friends that you can truly connect with and who when they like you, will be liking the complete and true version of who you are. It also helps you bring the most to the world in the time you are here. What is the most beautiful thing is that is provides a sense of inner peace and freedom knowing you can be loved for who you truly are. Be yourself my friends! There is no greater gift you could give yourself or the world.

SHRED HATE

Further proof that self-improvement tips can come from places you do not expect, I give you the example above. A picture with a lot of great ideas. In these days and times it would seem hate and negativity are gaining a big foothold. These are simple steps in which we can turn the tide. I saw this picture on the Facebook page from an amazing DJ I enjoy from Trinidad and Tobago, DJ Ana. Her great Soca mixes are definitely worth checking out.

Let us look at a few of these and how we can put them to use. I like the idea of “Being kind in the comments.” It would seem that many people do not feel the need to engage unless it falls into the critical category. Sometimes, it is just to disagree with someone’s expressed opinion. Both of those are certainly valid comments, but how you say something can be even more important than what you are saying. I value people who offer me opinions that are different than mine or who have ways in which my writing or content can be improved. If, however, they say so in a harsh and confrontational manner I am less likely to be receptive. Being kind and encouraging in any and all situations can certainly help shred hate.

Spread positive content is another great one. A lot of us think that positivity and social media are opposites. That is a sad commentary in regards to most people’s social circle. When we are on social media, we choose who, and what we will follow. We also choose what we will share and bring to the lives of others. Do you really want to share that click bait negative headline just so people will check out your page? Wouldn’t it be better to introduce your friends and family to something that can help them reduce their stress, increase their joy and become the best version of themselves? Kind of like the post you are reading presently? We here at Secret2anamazinglife.com love it when our content is shared. Word of mouth is the best way to spread the word and help us reach the hearts and minds of those who really need us. Next time you are tempted to share that article about the celebrity failing their sobriety, do yourself and those you share with a favor and share something that will bring something positive to their lives instead. A picture of a monkey or baby bear wouldn’t hurt either.

Follow the good is our last category we are going to look at. This one should again be very simple, but might have been overlooked up until now. If you find something good, someone inspiring, or something useful – follow it. Whether that is a certain podcast you might sign up for, a YouTube channel to subscribe to, a Facebook page to like or group to join. Even this blog you are currently reading. If there is something that will add joy and positivity to your life, make sure to get it in your schedule and in your life right away. Be alerted when new content is posted. That way there is always a little bit of positivity showing up in your life when you need it. How do you know when you might need it? You don’t. That is exactly why it is so important to have it in front of you as often as you can. Find the good and follow it.

If we want to shred hate, I suggest using one of the many suggestions in the first picture. Bringing in as much positivity into our lives as we can is one way. Sharing as much positivity with others is certainly another. I would love to hear your suggestions for shredding hate. Please leave them in the comments below. Your idea could be explored in our next post!

I’VE BEEN A THIEF FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS! (and why you should be too)

In the last two decades of my self-improvement career I have become quite a thief. Some of the greatest people in history are thieves as well. Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, and both Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn. When I say that both myself and these greats of history are thieves, I do not mean stealing ketchup when you are three years old and your mother has to take you back to the store to explain and return it. For that you would have to get some clarification from my lovely Margie. When I say that myself and these other wonderful folks are thieves, I mean of the information variety.

As you can see Mr. Einstein gave credit to those who have went before him and used it as motivation to further his work. Can you imagine if everything in the scientific and mathematical community had to be relearned every generation? If we had to go back to square one? Relearn Newton’s laws of physics? Rediscover the periodic table? This would have ripple effects on the medical profession, meteorology, zoology and many other ‘ologies’ that I can’t even think of. What we do is build on and learn from the knowledge of the generations before us. We learn their discoveries and make our contribution. Different generations can look at the same information each from their own unique perspective. They can also present it in their own way and with their own words. This will bring the information to light in a whole new way to an entirely different audience. Without stealing this information, very little advancement or new discoveries would be made.

Nowhere is this more true than in the field of self-improvement. One of the gentleman in the photo above most of you know. That would be Tony Robbins. My self-improvement journey and consequently career was inspired, in part, due to Mr. Robbins. I found myself staring at the television in the very early hours of the morning while getting ready for work at the post office when one of his famous infomercials came on. Perhaps it was lack of sleep, or maybe it was just the right moment, but I felt the desire to order one of his tapes and see what all of this was about. Over 20 years later and I find myself speaking and giving my own seminars. The more of a teacher or mentor you become in the field of self-improvement, the more of a student you become. Every day I read, listen to audio or watch video of other teachers. On an ambitious day I do all three. The other man in the photo is Jim Rohn, the gentleman who taught Tony Robbins. When you listen to Tony, you hear a lot of what Jim would teach, but with Tony’s flair and added knowledge. Jim, on the other hand, learned from a man named J. Earl Shoaff.

All of these gentleman ‘stole’ a little from each other. Perhaps a better word would be the modeled them. They listened to the words earned through years of wisdom each man had. It gave them knowledge that would have taken them years to learn on their own. Les Brown, another one of my favorite speakers, quotes so many other teachers and mentors that my head starts to spin. Oprah Winfrey has had the unique opportunity of interviewing some of the greatest minds of our time. She gladly shares things she has learned from them.

And then there is me, who has stolen knowledge from all of these men and more! I have learned discipline and overcoming odds from the likes of David Goggins, former Navy Seal. I have learned the art of being a good interviewer as well as the knowledge from all the great guests on Impact Theory ( I highly recommend looking that show up) Hosted by Tom Bilyeu. I even try my best to steal nuggets of wisdom on nature from my good friend Shannon, philosophy from my friends Nick, Amanda and Russ, the benefits of nature and rock-n-roll from my friend Eduardo and of course my beautiful Margie and I spend every day sharing and learning from each other.

I am encouraging you to become a knowledge thief now. Whatever field you are interested in or pursuing, there is information out there. Your library is full of books, YouTube has millions of videos. There are podcasts, webinars, seminars and audio available. Search out this information that is being shared and steal some for yourself. Here is the best part. When you share that knowledge with others, you will do so in your special and unique style. It will reach people who may never have been touched by a Tony Robbins or Les Brown. Your words might touch a special place in someone’s heart that nobody else could. Before long, people may begin stealing from you.

USING YOUR TREASURE

Wouldn’t it be great if we had treasure all around us? If you have an overflowing bank account would you leave that money in the bank or would you put it to use to make your life better and more enjoyable. If your answer is ‘yes’ you are like most of us walking around this earth. If your answer is ‘no’ feel free to place that money in my bank account I would be more than happy to give you a demonstration on how this all works.

Most people desire money so greatly because they believe it will make them happy. You may be tempted to disagree, but if you follow the trail it always ends in happiness. If you want money to ease your stress of finances, that would make you feel less stressed and happy. Perhaps you are noble and would like to make money to help feed and cloth children in poverty. Knowing that you helped those who may not be able to help themselves would make you feel like you did something good and in turn that would leave you feeling…yep, you guessed it, happy!

Some people chase happiness in more spiritual realm. They find happiness in some sort of enlightenment. In the end their accomplishments, even in the spiritual realm, will lead to happiness. Some people enjoy serving others. Some people enjoy overcoming obstacles. There are a million different things that all of us do to mine for the treasure of happiness. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a tool that would allow us to carry those fleeting moments of happiness with us? In effect, extending the duration of happiness. Good news, there is and I am going to share it with you. In fact, you may use portions of this tool unconsciously right now. Switching to doing so with a purpose will allow you to have, and be surrounded by an inner feeling of joy even in the darkest of times.


This tool was brought to my attention by a story shared from a coworker. Weekly, I am scheduled to visit our friends at the post office in the city of South Milwaukee in the state of Wisconsin where I live. On this particular day, I was greeted by an employee named Michelle. She was excited to share some recent photos of her son’s engagement. They had traveled to the romantic city of Savannah in the great state of Georgia under the premise of a family photo so that the future bride-to-be would not suspect anything. Tears of joy flooded the faces of all parties involved and you could tell that mom was quite proud of her son and excited for her future daughter-in-law. She had several pictures in her phone that she was going to have printed out and could recall all of the details of this great story. You could see the emotions flood her as she relayed it to me. I couldn’t help but feel happy for her.

In parting, I remarked how wonderful it was that in the middle of all the insanity that is occurring the world, it was great she had such a wonderful memory to carry with her. As I began to walk back to my postal truck for the trip back to the post office I normally work at, I was still struck my how much joy she had. It was if she was still in sunny Savannah despite the fact that she was clearly in the sunshine-challenged city of South Milwaukee. I note this phenomenon often telling others that “There is no law of physics that say your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.” Quite often while shoveling snow here in Wisconsin during the winter, my mind is on a tropical beach drinking out of a coconut.

This is something that we, like our friend Michelle, can do with the events in our life. Capture those beautiful moments with pictures, video and anything else we can think of. Put those cell phones to good use. Then share your joy with others. Maybe print out some of those pictures and keep the frame on your desk. Every so often, take but a few quick moments to travel back there in your mind. Use as many of your senses to make it real. Remember what the tropical flowers smelled like. Feel the warm sun and the cool ocean breeze on your skin. Taste the wonderful rum cocktails (remember, as tempting as this may be, we are still only doing this in our minds) Hear the birds and the rustle of the palm trees in the wind. You will be amazed at how much good a mini mental vacation will do you.

TURNING DEFEAT INTO SUCCESS

These next few posts are going to be a collection of lessons that I have learned from coworkers. Three different people, three different post offices. We begin in the sunny town of Franksville where I used to be postmaster. I was discussing self-improvement and introspective topics with the person who works there. We often have brief but intense discussions on some of our favorite people who inspire us.

On this particular day, the young lady mentioned she had been having some stressful days where she was feeling down. She was concerned that in her journey she might be taking a step back. I think any of us on a path to improving our lives and ourselves, have felt something similar. One of the most common questions I am asked at book signings, seminars and just by people I interact with is “Do you ever have a bad day?” “Are there days you are not in a good mood?” My answer is simple, of course I do. Everyone has days in their life where things just seem to go south when you would like them to go north. I actually had my day start that way today.

Does this mean we are not being successful in our self-improvement journey? Does this mean we are somehow doing it wrong? Are the amount of days we feel down indicative to our progress in life? Not at all! As the movie Forest Gump made light of, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you might get.” There are many situations that are beyond our control. Some moments it would appear we are having a run of ‘good luck’ where other times it would seem ‘the deck is stacked against us’. I am here to tell you that kind of thinking is a bunch of BS! (Belief systems).

Our success is not in eliminating every single challenge in life. We will all have days or more to the point, moments when life gets the best of us. The true test of our character is in shortening both the intensity and duration of those experiences. In fact, we grow most in times of pain and challenge. We learn the most about ourselves, those we care about and the world around us when times see the darkest. It is in putting these situations to work for us that we can take an experience that is a negative and turn it into a positive. Like finding a big hole in the ground and turning it into a mind in which we pull diamonds out of. These diamonds are better than jewels though. They can be diamonds of physical, mental and emotional strength we never knew we had. It can be the jewel of gratitude for those who help us when we are down.

How can we turn all of these negative situations in positive ones? I am going to give you a quick tool to start using by the end of our time together here today. Here it is – ask two simple questions. It would be a good idea to write these two questions down so when times get tough you don’t have to search for them on top of everything else. The first one we kind of alluded to earlier. How can I use this? Can I use it to be better prepared for a similar event in the future? Can I use it to develop a skill that I do not have at this moment in time? Can I use it to stoke the fires of motivation I have to succeed in the future?

The second question we should ask ourselves when things are bad is What is good about this? If you ask this question second it usually works a lot better. Once you found how to put your grief/pain/anger/sadness or whatever other challenging emotion to work for you, it can be a lot easier to find something positive in it. Perhaps you are experiencing the pain of regret over not spending enough time with a love one you lost. You can put that pain to work to motivate you to cherish and give 100% to those you love who are still here. The ‘positive’ that could come out of that pain is to remind you to express your feelings and take time for those who are in your life presently. I am sure you could think of examples in your own life as well.

To wrap up what turned out to be a longer post than I expected, let us remember the true measure of success. It is not to eliminate all stress and never have a bad day. We would never really grow then. It is finding ways to shorten the duration of time we spend in that negative state. We can do it by asking the two questions in the order we demonstrated above. When we go through pain and struggle we gain valuable tools that will allow us to better contribute to and serve others around us and the world at large. Next time you find yourself having a day where you are feeling down, remember that does not mean you are failing. What it does mean, is you have an opportunity to grow and develop tools you would otherwise not have.