Day 6. How Dale Carnegie helped me to ice skate


 

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 6.  March 31, 2011 
Preface:  Thank you for reading my blog about living the Dale Carnegie principles.

Today was an important day in my world—it was Session 3 of my ice skating lessons.  I was certain this day would be the perfect application of the principles for overcoming worry from Dale Carnegie. 

During last week’s skating experience I crashed on the ice so hard I passed out.  So today I was facing my enemy head on.  The enemy was fear.  I really thought I had a good handle on the fear until I put the skates on and was staring at the ice rink in front of me. 

I wore my gym watch to monitor my heart rate—and was pretty surprised to see my heart racing at 145 beats just standing by the skating rink.

Suffice it to say, I clung to my trainer for the entire hour.  Is there a word stronger than terrified? 

I tried to relax by taking deep breaths. 

I remembered my instructor Frank Starkey, from the Dale Carnegie course, explaining in the first session that as we progress through each of the Dale Carnegie classes our confidence will increase.  Being able to reference past successes in class will give us confidence to push ourselves to new challenges in the course and in life. 

I grinned remembering my achievements in the Dale Carnegie course. 

Despite my efforts to relax and think all these points through my limbs just weren’t loosening up.  Picture a stiff board on ice skates.   It was a very long hour. 

I was relieved the session was up—yet I was disappointed by my terror.  I thanked my trainer and said I was going to go back on the ice and try to tackle my fear.  I must do it.  And she said, “you will do it.”

She said the magic words: “you will do it”. 

You know that scene in the Gladiator, where Maximus is entering the Roman Colosseum, ready to face the battle?  That’s me.  Except picture someone 5’ 4”, a small frame, walking clumsily in ice skates up the stairs to enter the ice rink for Round 2. 

Gladiator, ice skater or just a person trying to exercise the Dale Carnegie principles?

There was just one little girl on the ice—probably 8 years old. She asked—“is this your first time?”  I explained my situation and that I had come to conquer my fear.  She said, “you can do it!”

Armed with confidence that my trainer and a random 8 year old girl had in me— I stepped onto the ice.  Terrified but determined.  I will not go home until I do this.  Period.

I reflected on my past success on the ice.  Last week I skated on my own for two hours with success.  Sure, I fell 4 times.  But I got up each time.  And although I did pass out—I lived to tell the story.  The bruises and scabs are badges of honor.  Free souvenirs. 

It took great mental effort but I was able skate—and I skated for two hours on my own.  The big stupid grin on my face summed it up.  I gave the little 8 year old girl a thumbs up as we crossed paths on the ice.  She shared the pleasure of my accomplishment.  And I grinned happily at her. 

There are multiple principles I applied (or tried to!) in this scenario:

From Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:

  1. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”  Prepare to accept the worst.  Try to improve on the worst. 
  2. Once a decision is reached, act!
  3. Cooperate with the inevitable.

 This evening wasn’t about how well I skated—I was still very clumsy—but the point was—I didn’t back down from my fear and I accepted the possibility that I could fall again.  The rewards—a big stupid grin, a very amusing show for the bystanders at the rink and I get the pleasure of knowing I did not back down. 

Let’s be practical—it’s hard to face fears in whatever form they come in.  But if you can practice the mental attitude of “I can and will do this, now”— then you will succeed.  And when you do this—you are able to manage worry and focus on achieving your goals—no matter how big or small.  Every accomplishment is worth being proud of and celebrating.

Day 5. Enthusiasm


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 5.  March 30, 2011 
I can’t decide which Carnegie story to share today so I’m sharing two today.  To the two people that read my blog (ha) feel free to let me know which you like best.

 

 

Story 1. 
I have suggested an idea on at least 3 different occasions to “Carlos”.  Each and every time the idea was shot down.  I understand Carlos’s hesitation to adopt my idea so I don’t really argue the point.  Well today Carlos came to me with a brilliant idea he was so excited to share. 

Put enthusiasm in your work. It makes the process easier.

 

You know where I’m going with this story. 

Carlos shared his idea—which of course was my idea. I can probably reference the exact days I suggested the idea.  I listened to Carlos telling me his brilliant idea and kept  repeating in my head… “Dale Carnegie.  Dale Carnegie.”  I took a deep breath.  I struggled internally because I thought Carlos was proving yet again that he’s nuts.  I sat there struggling and then thought… who cares whose idea it is… all I know is that the idea is a good one and I finally get approval to carry it out.  I smiled and told Carlos it’s a great idea. 

The principle I used is from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:

Principle 16.  Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers. 

When you let the other person feel the idea is his or hers—both of you can focus your energy toward following through on the idea.  Progress is made. 

 ————————————————————-

Story 2. 
I had a photoshoot today that I was not especially enthused about.  I had a horrible time trying to prepare the studio.  The fabric I was using as a prop was wrinkled and all my efforts to iron and steam the wrinkles out failed.  I set the shot up—took a dozen photos.  Didn’t really like any of them.  I was completely frustrated that I had to do this task.  In my mind this task really wasn’t my responsibility… etc, etc.  The day just seemed to drag on forever.  I was concluding it was a crummy day.     

Before leaving I reviewed my to-do list and noticed I didn’t finish an article I had written.   I needed some photos to really make the article come alive.  I started gathering props and samples.  I went into the studio, removed the previous items I had photographed about two hours earlier.  I left the wrinkled fabric in place—mainly because I liked the color and didn’t want to try ironing other fabric. 

Well, after an hour and a half into this second photoshoot of the day, I had to pull myself away from my work.  I was completely engulfed in the work—I was not merely photographing pins, needles and flower samples—no—no—I was creating art.  I was immersed in my work—changing angles and lighting as I photographed.  I probably could have stayed well into the night photographing pins, needles and flowers. 

As I drove home trying to think of what Carnegie principles I exercised today I realized I was my own case study—my own lab rat.  The first photoshoot was miserable—because I didn’t approach it with enthusiasm.  The second photoshoot was creative, fun and a success (even with the same wrinkled fabric) because I approached it with giddy enthusiasm.  My perspective of the task I had to do changed.  It was the same work– just a different outlook. 

The principle I used in this example is from Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Put enthusiasm into your work.

When you put enthusiasm in your work the output is better quality because you put your heart into it.  You might even find that the work doesn’t feel like labor at all.  And let’s be clear– it doesn’t matter what type of work– doing the dishes, mopping the floor, performing brain surgery– if you approach it with enthusiasm you are guaranteed to feel more productive and fulfilled. 

So, to the couple of people that read my blog… which story do you like best?

Day 4. Live in “day-tight” compartments


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 4.  March 29, 2011 

Tuesday can be summed up with one word:  Taxing.

I had a busy day.  I scheduled a special Coffee Celebration at Starbucks.  Then an associate wanted to have lunch.  Then I had a dental appointment in the afternoon—followed by a photoshoot for a friend.  Then I had art club.  And last, ice skating lessons.

Did I mention, I work full time?  And it happens to be print week… the busiest time of the month? 

 I knocked out the first two items on my task list, managed to squeeze in some work then stormed out to go to the dentist.  I was so irritated because the dental appointment really interrupted my schedule.  I was feeling the stress of the day.  How am I supposed to finish all my work?  This day is such a waste. 

I made it to the dentist, still crabby because I left a pile of work at the office.  As I sat down in the waiting room I took a deep breath.  I might as well accept the circumstances.  It does no good to take out my frustration on the dentist or the receptionist.  It’s not their fault I can’t keep my teeth clean. Besides, I always manage to get my work done.  Today will be no different. 

As I was sitting, taking a deep breath…my cell phone rang.  My ice skating instructor was calling to reschedule my skating lesson.  I was thrilled because this meant my evening opened up and I could catch up on work. 

Today’s entry will be different.  I will tell you the principle I should have implemented immediately.  It’s from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

The principle is:
1. Live in ‘day-tight compartments.’

You see, I spent the day stressing and worrying about all the work and commitments I had to get done today when I didn’t have to.  I got my work and commitments completed and my schedule even opened up when my ice skating instructor rescheduled my appointment out of the blue.   I worried and stressed for nothing!

So, when you live in ‘day-tight compartments’ you can focus on one specific task or moment and not waste time or energy worrying about things that may or may not happen.

Day 3. Be a good listener.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 3.  March 28, 2011

Preface:  Mondays were designed for applying virtually any of the Carnegie principles. 

Spent blooms from the Dallas Arboretum

I was talking with a dear friend today—she was sharing an exciting piece of news that you could see in her eyes meant so much to her.  She was being recognized by an industry organization.  She was receiving recognition.  For a split second—(let’s be honest, I’m human) I was green with envy.  But then I put deliberate effort into focusing on her—on her words, on the excitement in her eyes.  I let her do the talking—asking a few questions here and there and just sat and absorbed the moment. 

The outcome—I lived the joy, the thrill, the giddy excitement with her.  She is long overdue for recognition, for being valued and appreciated for her efforts— and I’m genuinely happy for her.

Turns out I used multiple principles from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People:

1.  Become genuinely interested in other people.
2.  Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.

When you exercise the above two principles, you through no great effort, get to join in someone’s parade of happiness.  My ordinary, blah Monday became more meaningful because I listened to what is important to another person. 

Day 2. Smile!


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 2.  March 27, 2011

It’s day 2—and I was looking at my watch—it’s 5 pm and I’m running out of time to apply the Carnegie principles.  I began to worry—thinking I’m already going to fail at this blog. 

I drove to Starbucks in McKinney.  Even though it was cold and drizzling, I decided to walk in instead of going through the drive-through. 

I walked in, ordered my beloved Java Chip Frappuccino.  The only difference—I greeted the barista with a friendly smile.  When she gave me my drink I showed her my appreciation by thanking her and again, giving her a genuine smile.  The barista seemed to appreciate the gesture—she was just as friendly and appeared to appreciate being treated like a human.

The principle I used is from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People:

Principle 5.  Smile.

Smiling is the easiest technique to bring happiness to a stranger.

Day 1 of 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles


As a recent graduate from the Dale Carnegie course, I have been putting effort into living the Dale Carnegie principles.  To take the process one step further—I have decided to make myself accountable by starting a daily blog to document exactly what principles I have lived for the next 365 days. 

My hope is to grow as a person and invite others to grow with me in this process.  I am certain if you put any one of the principles into practice you too will benefit from the results.

Day 1.  March 26, 2011

How I turned rotting fish into lemonade using the Dale Carnegie approach.

It was a beautiful Spring morning—warm and sunny with the promise of a great day.  I was approaching the gate on the side of my house to enter the backyard.  I stopped in my tracks… I noticed a very foul stench and looked around for the cause.  I opened the gate and there was the source of the foul stench:  a Wal-Mart bag with a huge dead fish. 

At this juncture I’d like to say that I handled the moment in a civilized fashion—but I’m human.  I was just plain livid—spouting out a colorful bouquet of choice words for the prankster(s).  My instinct was to go to the neighbors and politely accuse them of throwing a rotting fish in my backyard.  But I didn’t.  I grabbed my shovel, a trash can and bag and scooped the rotting fish, mush and all.  In all it took minutes—I did what needed to be done—as an adult, a homeowner and as a Carnegie graduate. 

As I did this task—I racked my brain trying to make sense of things.  What human being would throw a fish into someone’s yard?  What does this say about the person?  I’ve been listening to Jim Rohn and the Art of Exceptional Living.  As Jim Rohn describes it—a person who says he doesn’t do his best in just one area of his life—is fooling himself.  A behavior—good or bad—trickles into all areas of a person’s life.

So today I decided to turn a rotting fish into lemonade by creating a blog.  The principle I used is from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Part 4:  Try to profit from your losses.

When you try to profit from your losses– you will grow as a person, discover new opportunities and find happiness even in the most unpleasant of circumstances.