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Andrew's Ax readers know that one-word titles like this one are usually followed by an exclamation point or a question mark. But today I want you to sense the difference between "Test," "Test!" and "TEST!" If you're like me, the word "test," even without the exclamation point, conjures at least a hint of trepidation, if not outright fear. Worse when I read it in ALL CAPS! One of my roommates flunked out of college due to an all-too-real case of Test Anxiety.

Or let's recall that voice many of us used to hear when listening to the radio or watching TV and the screen filled with something like the picture above. (Do they still do these?) After a long beep came the following message: "Please stand by. This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test. Had this been a real emergency, you would have been instructed to...." Funny, isn't it, that even though the voice said, "This is only a test," the message could still provoke anxiety in anyone who thought enough about what kind of emergency might require using the "Emergency Broadcast System." Duck and cover!

Yes, "tests" can cause anxiety, and just the word itself might do so in some of you. How about replacing the word with "opportunity" as my 9th and 12th grade Spanish teacher did? Mr. Bourgerie would suddenly say, "Gente, People...please take out a sheet of paper; you will now have another opportunity to show what you have learned...or what you have not learned." For a lot of us, that little change did nothing more (or less) than create a potentially new psychological disorder: "Opportunity Anxiety." No, gracias!

Today I'm going to share what I hope is a more soothing and also useful definition of "test," from Google: "A procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of something, especially before it is taken into widespread use." Why write today about this definition of "test"? Because recently one of my heroes, Steve Chandler, shared his insight on the distinction between "trusting" and "testing." Here's the full 20-minute audio: Highly recommended!

Steve makes the following point: Rather than "trusting" or "believing" that something, or ANYthing will "work" for you (or for your team, your staff, your boss, your spouse, your child), simply test the suggested tool. For example, note the difference between "testing" whether, say, meditation, or positive language, or a change in an exercise routine, will work for you, versus "believing in" your TM teacher, your communications coach, or your trainer at the gym. Test it and find out. If it works, you don't need "belief." And if it doesn't (after a fair amount of testing), move on and find another tool to test.

One of my favorite business books is Richard Farson's Management of the Absurd. And one of his more provocative chapter titles (among 33 short chapters, most of them paradoxes) is, "Everything We Try Works, and Nothing Works." Combining Farson's and Chandler's expert wisdom, along with this year's Seven Samurai theme (see January 28 blog, I offer you this suggestion: How about giving your New Year's Resolutions a full shot this year? Revisit, remake, or create a powerful, self-motivating goal or more, and then...Go for it! After all: It's only a test.

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