Day 36: How Dale Carnegie made today’s 5K run more interesting.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

 Day 36.  April 30, 2011
As I was driving this morning I was listening to the theme song from the “Rocky” movie.  I was feeling confident.  I was wearing my favorite running ensemble—black shorts, black shirt, black hair band.  I not only looked good.  I was ready to rumble.  Not that this was a boxing match. It was a 5K run. 

They sounded the buzzer and we were off and running.  I kept a steady pace—I didn’t want to burn out in the first half of the race.  I turned on my iPod and pretended I was at the gym running on my favorite treadmill.  I pretended so well, I got some runners turning around looking at me and smiling. 

You see—I sing when I run on the treadmill.  I don’t sing because I sing well.  I sing because it gives me something to focus on.  Lyrics in songs fuel my engine for running.  Not slow, sappy songs—we’re not strolling in the park.  I like songs with energy, gusto and passion—and if there’s some angst thrown in—that’s a bonus because that makes me run faster. 

To help me run I planned on focusing on a distinct bad day from last year.  I take particular delight in making lemonade out of rotten days.  But today was different.  I had a smile on my face as I ran and sang.  My fingers danced in the wind.  I pretended I was wearing a Superman cape and I was flying like the wind. 

There were bystanders along the way cheering us on.  They were holding signs and banners—with words of encouragement like “Keep going!”  I smiled and gave everyone a thumbs as I passed by.  Not sure how—but the encouragement of random strangers fueled me to continue. 

I decided I’d be a smiling, running ambassador for Dale Carnegie’s principle number 5 as I passed everyone by. 

The run is basically a circle—you end where you began.  When I was more than halfway through the race I crossed paths with a LONG line of people who were walking the race.  I was heading back as they were still progressing through the race.  I wasn’t sure how it was technically possible that they were that far behind.  I imagined what they were thinking—geesh—there are people that are almost finished? 

I did my best to make eye contact with them as I smiled and gave them a thumbs up.

As I neared the end, there was a couple—an older man and woman who were the very last ones in the race.  They were walking slowly.  The man was a bit overweight. 

I looked at them and said—“You can do it!” as I ran by them. 

I can put food away!

Now, you have to understand that at this point in the race—yesterday’s very large taco dinner was still settling in my stomach.  I wasn’t feeling my best.  But somehow focusing on other racers and the bystanders gave me strength to continue.  I kept telling myself—I’ve got this.  I’ve got this.  I’ve done this before—I will do this again.  Period.

When I could see the finish line—I went full speed.  I pretended I was stepping on a gas pedal in a car—I ran like I meant it.  As I did this I remembered what my friend Esteban-the-Gym-Rat told me the evening before:  “remember, they take your picture as you cross the finish line—so you want to finish big—with a smile and your game face.  Some people cross the finish line—crying and vomiting—that’s not the photo you want hanging over the mantle in your living room.”

A winning smile.

I crossed the finish line with a beaming smile. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile.
Principle 22. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.

I focused my attention on other people as I ran.  I showed my appreciation for the bystanders who were cheering us on.  I encouraged other participants in the race as I passed them by.  When I did this—I was distracted from my own concerns of – will I finish this race?  Will I come in under 30 minutes?  Will my foot start hurting? And is my stomach going to explode from that very extensive taco dinner I had last night? 

So, remember, there’s a real benefit to creating happiness for others—your words and actions can affect them in a positive way at just the right time and you are able to distract yourself from your own troubles.  Everyone wins! 

Special thanks to “Esteban-the-Gym-Rat” for his coaching advice—including tips on focusing on the horizon, proper ways to tie the shoe laces and the importance of hydration.  You made me feel like an “official athlete”—I felt important. 

Thanks to my friend “Jewel” who reminded me a week ago I could take some time off from the gym to prepare for the big race without my gym routine crashing into disgraceful oblivion.

Thank you “Dr. House” my gym trainer who knows just the right things to say that click in my head—like—“Gym Rat, of course you’ll be ready for the run two months away.” 

Thank you to my buddy “Bell” who despite living clear across the planet—convinced me to go to bed early so that I’d be well rested for the race. Sometimes the obvious isn’t always so!

Housekeeping/Reminders:
Be sure to read Friday’s blog post—the photo will bring you a smile.
Don’t forget about the open invitation to be a contributing writer to this 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie principles blog.  You will approach life with an improved perspective.  What a deal!

Day 35. I found a way to apply a Dale Carnegie principle by cleaning the bathroom…


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 35.  April 29, 2011
I woke up feeling melancholy.  I looked at myself in the mirror and tried smiling.  I wasn’t feeling it.  I knew my mood defied logic because I got more sleep than usual.  Yet I didn’t feel well rested at all.

My thoughts took various turns.  I thought of tomorrow—the day of my big 5K race.  I doubted whether I could actually run and succeed in the race.  I thought of the consolation prize that everyone receives—a nice big breakfast.  Nope—I wasn’t feeling very happy this morning.  Food couldn’t even list my spirits.  Should I even enter the race?  

I thought of my recent track record of waking up excited and in a good mood.  I tried to analyze what was different about today.  I remembered my past blogs of fighting for my happiness—proof that I am able to change my mood.  I just wasn’t feeling right today.

Then I wondered what I would write in today’s blog. Would there even be a blog?  Are my blog days over?  I have some great photos for the blog but there’s no story to tell.  I’m stuck in my box of unhappiness. 

I took a deep breath and prayed.  My prayers aren’t fancy or flowery.  They are straight to the point: “Dear God please help me.”   

Then I did something odd for my morning routine.  I decided to clean.  I vacuumed the house. Then I emptied the trash.  Then I cleaned the bathroom mirror and countertop and even… the toilet!  I think it was the moment I poured ammonia into the sink I completely woke up with a complete change of perspective.  ‘Wow…that is a strong chemical’—I thought to myself as I ran to the other room gasping for air.

Then I decided to fold laundry that was waiting for me in the dryer all week.  I counted my blessings as I folded the socks because most of the socks had matching pairs. 

This cleaning process took about 20 minutes—but did more good for me than I could have imagined.  I was focused on a goal—annihilate dirt, germs and clutter. As I finished getting myself ready I remembered a conversation I had with my friend Steve earlier this week about the upcoming 5K run.  He said with complete confidence that I would succeed.

As I was leaving the house—I looked at the now clean mirror and smiled.  Yes, I will run in that 5K race tomorrow.  And I will succeed and eat my victory breakfast and wear my victory t-shirt. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used this morning:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Keep busy.
Count your blessings—not your troubles.
Pray.

Stuck in a box

I was a real skeptic this morning thinking I might have reached the end of my happiness parade but it turns out the Dale Carnegie principles continue to work.  You just have to be willing to exert effort into getting out of your box of unhappiness. 

It is true—you will not always wake up in a good mood—and in some ways I’m grateful I didn’t this morning.  It was a good challenge.     

Look around for opportunities to count your blessings in the circumstances and people you encounter.  Find ways to distract yourself—keep busy by doing the simplest of tasks—like cleaning or folding laundry.  Live in the moment and enjoy someone’s friendly invitation to sit for coffee—or laugh heartily at a funny email. You MUST look for these opportunities. 

When you take this approach you will discover you have the power to control your perspective of the day.  You determine whether or not you are happy.  No one else.

Day 34. Living the Dale Carnegie principles leads to meals better than SPAM


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 34.  April 28, 2011
A couple months ago I heard some disturbing news at work about “Samantha”, one of our customers.  Samantha was on her way to overnight a package to me—when she received news that her husband was in a near fatal motorcycle accident. 

Samantha’s husband wasn’t wearing a helmet.  You can use your imagination when thinking about what happens when a person hits the pavement while riding fast on a motorcycle. He received incredible injuries to his face and head.  He nearly lost his eye.

What do you say to a customer whose husband is in the ICU?  What do you say when you don’t really know this customer other than through email?  Well, at the time, I was enrolled in the Dale Carnegie course.  So I did my best to respond—I was super awkward but sincere.

I didn’t know her faith, her religion, her values or beliefs.  I really didn’t know her—other than I work with her on specific projects via email. 

I didn’t want my email to be an empty, standard form-letter type of response.  I took a leap of faith and expressed my thoughts to her.  I told her I would pray for her and her husband. 

 And I did pray for them. 

A few weeks later she called me—we have never spoken on the phone.  She was apologetic for not sending the package!  I told her forget the package—how’s her husband?  We talked for a bit and I took a brave leap into the unknown by telling her I would continue to pray for her and her husband.

I continue to check in on her at random times—by sending emails with subject lines:  “Just checking in.”  I begin my emails by saying, “I saw a motorcyclist the other day and thought of your husband.  How is he doing?”  There is a definite clumsiness about my emails—they are short but friendly—and on familiar terms—as if I have known her for years – despite the fact I wouldn’t know her in a crowd.  When I proof my emails to her before pressing “Send” I think geesh—I look like a novice trying to come off human and warm.  I hit send anyway and hope I didn’t say something stupid. 

And each time she responds back—so grateful to hear from me (of all people!) Honestly—I’m not sure who is touched more by this exercise in humanity—me or her. 

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.

Sometimes it’s a real stretch to create happiness for someone else—especially a stranger—because it requires you to put yourself in the vulnerable position of being human and caring.  It is not easy.  I know it!  But when you take this chance and give of yourself – you find a different sort of happiness.  It’s not a shallow or brief moment of happiness.  It’s genuine and rich. 

Is there really a need for a caption?

I love food analogies—so it’s like having prime rib instead of SPAM.

Day 33. Part 2. Use Dale Carnegie Principles to recover from feeling like an idiot.


Despite my best efforts sometimes I can sleep through just about anything

As I mentioned in the Day 33 blog entry, I woke up late. I woke up so late—I nearly slept half the day away.  I got up at 11:40 am.  (Despite two alarm clocks and two text messages)

I was disgusted with myself.  This is not the first time I’ve done this. It’s not that I get in trouble at work.  Everyone finds it funny.  I guess people like to see flaws.  The perception of me is that I’m a hard worker—a workaholic. 

I made it to the office at 12:32.  I was frantic but glad to have made it in.

After realizing my lunch plans were cancelled with my friend I sat down at my desk. I realized it was lunch time.  I’m late for my Starbucks visit for my Java Chip Frappuccino.

I quietly snuck out of the office—I felt like such a loser.  Here I am—I slept half the day away, I waltz into the office super late—and then after a few minutes of being at the office I leave to get my Java Chip Frappuccino.  Talk about shame and guilt.

I left anyway because I know there’s no use in fighting it.  My routine is important.  I will be thinking of my Starbucks Frappuccino all day. 

I return to the office—Frappuccino in hand and feeling much better.  I ease into the day with enthusiasm.  Yes, I was super late.  But now I will recover with style—with enthusiasm.  I whizzed through several projects I had to work on.  I tackled some editing with gusto.  I whistled while I worked.  There was a general feeling of happiness coming from my office.

What I realized is that no one really cares that I was late.  It’s not that there aren’t standards or rules at the office.  But I have a reputation of working very hard—despite my occasional disasters of oversleeping.  The key to today—I approached the day with enthusiasm.  This distracted me from thinking I was an irresponsible adult for oversleeping.  And by the end of the day—I had gotten quite a lot of work complete!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this scenario:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Put enthusiasm into your work.
Cooperate with the inevitable. 
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries.
Try to profit from your losses.

Remember, sometimes stupid mistakes or silly accidents happen.  Rather than dwell on feeling like a fool or an idiot—profit from the experience.  Turn the circumstance into something positive.  See if you can get more work done in less time.  See if you can distract everyone by your productivity that they forget you came in late.  Remind yourself that you have a reputation for being reliable, a good worker, etc etc.  When you take this approach—you focus your energy in a more positive, forward thinking direction that is more beneficial to you than wallowing in your mistakes.

Day 33. The only reason I woke up today…my boss called me….Guess what Dale Carnegie principles I managed to use today!


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 33.  April 27, 2011
I woke up this morning to the sound of my cell phone ringing right beside my pillow.

Startled, I look at the phone.  It’s my boss calling.  I look at the time… It’s 11:40 am on Wednesday. 

I leap out of bed—frantic—and irritated that I overslept.  I called my boss back—and try my best to muster a voice that doesn’t sound groggy like I just woke up.

“Oh hi—I um—had a rough night.  Apparently I was super tired—and I overslept…” 

My boss responded in her usual generous way—”oh no!  Well, why don’t you just take the day off and rest up.”

I respond, “oh thank you—but I have a lunch meeting with Kelley today at noon… which is in 20 minutes….”   

My boss and I both laugh at the absurdity of my circumstance.  “I’m not sure how, but I will be there one way or another….”

So I race through my morning ritual of getting ready.  I said a few frantic prayers—please God, help me.  Please Guardian Angel—help me get ready.  This is not how I planned the day.”

Despite running late—I quickly check my email.  I see a couple of my friends posted comments on my blog… that was enough to lift my spirits.  Well, I guess it was worth staying up super late the night before to post the blog. 

I throw on fresh clean clothes—do my best to get the hairdo in decent shape and I run out of the house into my car. 

 “Please God… make me fly through the streets.  Please clear traffic.  Hurry.”

I decide my goal is to get there by 12:30—which is late but not too late. 

I race through the tollway—the speed limit is 70mph—which ordinarily seems way too fast—but today…. I’m pushing 75mph. 

New world record!

I manage to get to the office which is over 30 miles away… in 32 minutes!  Typically it takes 1 hour – 1:15 minutes to get to work.  If there’s rain…two hours. In snow or ice… three or more hours….

I’m so grateful I made it in record time.  I’m still pretty frantic—I literally just woke up—and my head is still groggy… and mildly aching. 

I walk in to the office looking for my poor friend Kelley who must be patiently waiting to have lunch with me.

No Kelley in sight.  I ask around—“has anyone seen Kelley?”

I sit down and check all my email.  That’s when I saw an email from Kelley… she woke up this morning feeling ill—so she had to cancel.  (She emailed 3 hours ago)

It was at this point I felt like a deflated balloon.  I took a deep breath.  I did my best to smile.  I decided to find humor in the rich irony.

I was so exhausted I felt like I melted...

You see—on Sunday I kept writing an email to send to my boss—but I just couldn’t hit send.  The email was to request a day off on Easter Monday.  (We had to work on Good Friday).  I not only wanted a day off—I needed a day off.  I have been exhausted.  My boss would gladly give me a day off but I just can’t bring myself to ask.  And there’s this pesky Dale Carnegie principle that keeps nagging me “Rest before you get tired”.  In talking to the UPS service rep yesterday she told me she spent the entire Sunday resting. I joked—yes, I’ve heard about that concept—what’s that like?  I just can’t seem to do it!  I’ve been chewing on the idea of a day off all week…

The Dale Carnegie principle I should have used today:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.

Instead of springing out of bed in a crazed panic—I should have paused… and reviewed all my emails. If I had—I could have agreed to my boss’s suggestion of taking a day off!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Try to profit from your losses.
Pray.

I accepted I would be late this morning and just focused on minimizing how late.  Plus I knew Kelley would understand.  Once I realized the lunch plans were cancelled—I did my utmost to profit from my losses by trying to find humor in the irony of the circumstance.

So remember, before going into a crazed panic– slow down.  Take a deep breath.  Get all the facts.  Review the facts.  Then proceed calmly.  Otherwise you might miss an opportunity like I did of having a day off.  Also– before getting irritated when you receive ingratitude, lemons or a heap of something I cannot repeat… do your best to turn it into something positive.  Profit from your losses.  The easiest way to do this is to find humor — to find some silly irony in the moment.

Day 32. The Dale Carnegie Principles kept me from getting into fight with the President of the Homeowner’s Association Part 2 of the Lassie Story


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 32.  April 26, 2011
Preface:  Please read Part 1 of the Lassie Story first.  Fans of the blog have given it a top rating, it features some great Carnegie lessons and Part 2 will make more sense.   

Unexpected discovery on Easter

It was 7:45 am on Monday—and I decided to call the animal hospital before they close for the day.  “Hi—I’m the woman that found the sheltie—did anyone claim him yet?”

 The operator responded, “No—not yet.”

“Ok, I replied.  I’m going to knock on doors in the neighborhood and post signs.”

“Oh, that would be great.” said the operator.

I put on some nice clothes and set out on my mission.  I wanted to be sure I looked well put together so that people would be open to hearing what I had to say and not think I was soliciting.  (in other words… I put on my best pair of jeans, a nice t-shirt, my new shoes and a smile.)

I was certain I knew where the dog lived.  He lives at the house where I saw him circling the car.  I knocked on the door, smiled and asked the gentleman if he was missing a dog.  No, he wasn’t.

I was not expecting this answer.  I was rather stunned. 

So I tried some other homes.  I was getting one of two response—either no one was home or they weren’t missing a dog. 

What was striking about this experience was how friendly and appreciative the neighbors were.  They were grateful I was on a mission to find the dog’s owner.  To me this was an obvious course of action—I promised the dog I’d find his owner and I fully intended to follow through.  Personally, I go nuts losing anything

After awhile I realized I needed to treat this task like a marketing campaign.  I decided to strategically post my waterproof signs throughout the neighborhood.  (I made the signs waterproof by sealing them in clear plastic bags.)  I taped the signs on the lampposts and stop sign posts.  I even went to the local gas station and gave the cashier one of my flyers. 

Then as I was taping a sign on one of the most frequented light posts in the neighborhood… a woman drove up beside me.  She said to me in her British accent… “you can’t post signs.”

I had a split second to react…

I turned to her and calmly said… “what would you suggest?  I found a dog last night and I’m trying to find the owner.” 

She gave me her business card and said I could visit the Homeowner’s Association website and post information there.  Her name, of course, was the infamous, “Betty Lou”. 

I have never met Betty Lou in person but I am well acquainted with her.  I am certain this woman watches every move I make.  She sends me postcards in the mail letting me know I have weeds in my flowerbeds and I need to remove them.  She lets me know I left my trash bin outside on a day other than trash day and that I must remove the bin immediately or pay fines.

She is President of the Homeowner’s Association—and I have the privilege of paying her salary and the services she diligently provides. 

I remove the sign, dejected.  I start scanning my memory for a Dale Carnegie principle to get me through this.  I manage to amuse myself by concluding she and her staff are very efficient.  Their very existence is to make sure no one breaks rules.  I can appreciate they don’t want to junk up lampposts.  After all  look at how pretty all the lampposts are without signs… (well, except for the lampposts that still have my signs plastered on them…)

I decide to outsmart Betty Lou.  There are no rules against putting flyers on doors—I know that for a fact because I get flyers daily. 

So I walk the neighborhood putting flyers under doormats, carefully positioning the flyers so that the homeowners see the dog’s photo first.  There are a lot of homes with signs—“no solicitors, no flyers.”  I decide the signs aren’t directed to me—I’m doing a public service.  So I continue my mission.

I found a house with the fence fallen over from the storm.  The owner had a door mat that said “Wipe your paws.”   I can picture the sheltie living here.  This must the house.  I knock on the door—no answer.  I left a flyer under the mat.

As I’m walking—I see a woman—and approach her with a smile.  No, she hasn’t lost a dog.. but there’s a neighbor three houses away that did lose a dog!

I raced over to the house and knocked on the door with anticipation.  No one answered the door.  I left a flyer under the mat.

By this time it’s 11 am.  I decide I’ve done enough for the day and I’m late enough for work.

Once at work, I call the Homeowner’s Association to find out where I could post information on their website.  I spoke with “Patricia”.  I told her the entire story about Lassie—the Easter dog I found.  She was completely sympathetic.  

“It even knows tricks…I’m sure someone is missing their dog,” I tell Patricia. 

 “Oh yes, no doubt”, she replied.  

Patricia gets information on the dog just in case someone calls looking for him.  At one point in the conversation I hesitate—and said, “I’m going to get in trouble with you…. You see, I posted signs on lampposts.  I know I’m not supposed to… but I feel so bad for the dog and the dog’s owner.  I have a dog too and if I lost my dog… I would hope someone did the same for me….”

Patricia said.. oh, don’t you worry.  I would have done the same.  The worst that will happen is that they remove the signs.  But it will be ok.” 

 “Oh thank you,” I said to Patricia. 

 ———
It’s evening now and I’m driving into my neighborhood.  My heart sinks.  ALL the waterproof signs I lovingly posted on lampposts and stop sign posts are gone.  I wanted to cry.  Really?  Do you not have a heart Betty Lou and your minions?  (Patricia is excluded from this group of course)

As I am checking my mail a neighbor drives by—and asks if I found the dog’s owner yet.  I was touched he cared enough to ask and he expressed his gratitude for my mission.

After having dinner I went to the store to pick up a stuffed animal toy for the dog.  Then driving over to the vet, I remembered I held the dog in my arms.  He knows my scent.  I decide to rub the stuffed animal on me—so that my scent is on the toy.  This way, he will be comforted with a familiar scent. 

I walked into the animal hospital and the same technician from the night before greeted me.  She said…we have good news!  We found the owner!

“Thank God!” I replied. 

The technician said, “you were his guardian angel!  We called the owner and he insisted the dog was home.  We explained we tracked him down with the microchip in the dog and the owner admitted he was out of town until Wednesday.  The dog must have escaped somehow.  So the dog will remain with us until then.” 

I smiled completely unaffected by the carelessness of the owner to leave a dog alone for three days.  I was just relieved I was able to keep my word with the dog to reunite him with his owner. 

Before leaving I told the technician, “I brought a toy for the dog.”

The technician replied, “oh, I’ll make sure the dog goes home with it!” 

I handed her the little stuffed lamb I carefully selected for the sheltie.  

A variety of Dale Carnegie principles were used in this story:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile.
Principle 10.  The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Principle 13.  Begin in a friendly way.
Principle 19.  Appeal to the nobler motives.
Principle 18.  Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
–          Live in “day-tight compartments.”
–          Do the very best you can.
–          Put enthusiasm into your work.

 I did not let the Homeowners Association prevent me from executing my plan of action.  When they tried to stop me—I found creative ways to comply with the rules while still keeping focused on my goal.  I was even able to convince Patricia, an employee with the Association that breaking the rules did make sense in this case. 

In this story enthusiasm trumped everything.  I was no longer nervous about knocking on strangers’ doors, interrupting their mornings and asking them if they lost a dog.  I was able to think creatively and strategically—from waterproof signs, to observing which homes had fallen fences to posting signs at busy traffic areas. 

You might ask why I didn’t just wait a day or two to see if the microchip had current contact information on the owner.  I couldn’t bear to think of the owner being worried sick about his/her missing dog.  I would want someone to do the same for me.  I even planned for the worst—I was thinking of individuals who could adopt the dog. 

If you take anything from this story—I hope it is this—approach a task with enthusiasm.  When you approach a task with enthusiasm you will accomplish things you never would have imagined.

Day 31. Dale Carnegie’s principles gave me courage to save Lassie’s relative. Part 1


Lassie's relative: Francis the Easter Dog

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 31.  April 25, 2011
It was 11 pm on Sunday.  The Easter festivities from the day were over.  I was going to pick up my workout clothes at home and head to the gym.  (I spent entire day trying to figure out how I could do two workouts in one day since I skipped my Saturday run at the gym).  So much for living in day-tight compartments.

There had been a severe storm with heavy winds and hail that evening.  It cleared up but it was still very wet outside.  As I reached the end of a street and stopped at the stop sign—I noticed a dog.  It was circling a parked car.  I looked around to see if there was an owner but the dog was by itself. 

I parked my car at the stop sign and got out of the car.  The dog came up to me immediately.  I was a bit scared… is it a dog… is it a coyote… after composing myself I confirmed it was the same type of dog from the old TV program— “Lassie”.  Ha! Certainly not a wild, fierce animal. 

It started circling my car.  The poor thing was scared.  I started talking to it—“where are your parents?  Do you know where you live?  What’s your name?”

Since it was a dog—clearly it couldn’t answer.  But it sure was friendly—it came up to me—and at one point I bravely stroked its fur.  I wasn’t sure what to do with the dog.  I couldn’t leave it alone.  But it’s 11 pm.  The neighborhood is asleep.

I said a prayer, “please God I don’t know what to do.  I am afraid of big dogs—and there’s no way I’m going to pick it up.”

I decided to open the back passenger door of my car.  If it’s meant that I get involved—the dog will enter the car without coaxing. 

 Well, the dog hopped right into my car. 

I closed the door, walked around to the driver’s side and entered my precious car that now has a wet dog inside.  I prayed the dog wasn’t waiting to bite me as I sat down.

Well, it sat there in the back seat, waiting for me to drive.  So I did.  I carried on a lengthy conversation with it as I drove.  I did this mainly to keep my nerves down as I figured out what I was supposed to do with a wet dog at 11 pm on Easter Sunday.  I was worried the dog was waiting for the right moment to jump on top of me and bite me or perhaps have an accident all over the interior of my car.  But it didn’t.  It just sat there. 

I headed into another city nearby—where there’s an animal hospital that is open all night.  I’m telling the dog about my own dog and some other dogs I know—and about the friendly animal hospital we are visiting.  I assure the dog we will find his parents. 

 As I pull into the animal hospital I explain to the dog that I will be right back.  I head into the hospital and open with:  “I may have lost my mind…. I never do things like this… I was driving home… there was a bad storm… and there was a lost dog… I couldn’t leave it….”

They assured me I did the right thing.  They gave me a leash and I returned to the car where the dog is waiting.  The dog is scared.  I am scared.  I try to get the leash on—but the dog decided to move to the driver’s seat.  I head to the front passenger’s seat—but am still scared of putting the leash around its neck.  I’m also scared of getting bitten. And I’m scared of fleas and ticks.  And what if it growls at me. 

I decide to embrace the inevitable.  I must get the dog out of my car with or without getting attacked.  I decided to talk to the dog who is still sitting nervously in the driver’s seat of my car.  With blind faith I picked him up.  I carried the shivering, wet dog inside the animal hospital—still talking to it assuring him it will be ok.  Oddly, between the dog and me—I think I was the braver, calmer one. 

I set him down and the vet gave him a dry towel.  It turned out the dog didn’t have a collar but he had a microchip embedded in him.  The vet explained that it will take at least a day for the microchip center to research the owner—and hopefully the microchip has current information. 

I gave the hospital all my contact information and they assured me they will do their best to find his owners.  The dog kept looking at me—as if we had bonded—I felt so sad leaving him there.  But the vet was very attentive and loving toward the dog.  He was in good hands.  They even mentioned they might take him home for the night.  I took several photos of the dog and assured him I would find his owners. 

By this time it’s midnight.  I realize that the gym is out of the question.  I decided that in the grand scheme of things—missing the gym for a second day in a row is not the end of the world.  And for this dog’s sake and the dog owners’ sake it was a necessary sacrifice. 

Sometimes events out of the norm give the right dose of perspective on what’s important.  I spent the entire day devising creative ways I could get two gym workout sessions done on Easter Sunday—of all days.  Despite all the planning and worrying—a new opportunity unfolded—as if to test my flexibility and to remind me to live in the moment and do what needs to be done.

 The Dale Carnegie principles I used:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
– How to face trouble:  
     *
As yourself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen?”
     *
Prepare to accept the worst.
     *
Try to improve on the worst.

– Cooperate with the inevitable.
Pray. 

The Dale Carnegie principle that is a work in progress for me:
– Live in ‘day-tight compartments.’

This story is to be continued…

Day 30. Create happiness for others… with a smile, your time and cookies!


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 30.  April 24, 2011
I was at Albertson’s today—checking the bakery department for the perfect cookies.  I found my favorites—soft sugar cookies with yellow frosting and sprinkles.  These are perfect, I thought to myself.

I headed over to Church’s Fried Chicken.  I pulled into the parking lot around 4:45 pm and thought – dear God—clearly I’ve lost my mind.

I stuffed the package of 1 dozen sugar cookies in my very large purse.  I walked into Church’s Fried Chicken and I was greeted by none other than Esther! 

I smiled at her and said I wasn’t there to order chicken.  I pulled the cookies out of my purse and said, “these are for you!”

“For me?  Thank you!  Did you just get out of work?  Are you sure you don’t want chicken?  How about just a drink?”

I replied, “no, no.  I am stuffed from a big lunch—but thank you.  I had to pick up some items from work—and I thought I’d stop by to see you—you mentioned you had to work on Easter Sunday.”

As I was leaving—she said—“wait.  I am getting married soon and my friend is throwing a party for me.  Will you give me your information?  I’d like you to come!”

The Dale Carnegie principle I used today:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
– Create happiness for others.

I made a mental note Esther had to work on Easter Sunday—and I imagined myself in her shoes—wanting to be home with family but having to work instead.  What would I like if I were in her shoes?  I decided a simple gesture of stopping by with some cookies would be nice. 

Magnify your awareness of others

When you take the time to create happiness for others—you reap the benefits.  Your perspective changes.  You become more aware of other people instead of spending all your time focusing on yourself and you will discover a deeper level of happiness in your life.

Day 29. It turns out the Dale Carnegie principles work in social settings where you don’t speak the language


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles 

Day 29.  April 23, 2011
I’m sitting in the second row of a church I don’t belong to and the entire service was in Spanish.  I’m not fluent in Spanish—I can understand roughly every third word—if it’s spoken slowly.

I wondered if there’d be a way to use the Dale Carnegie principles.  I wasn’t sure how I could—since I don’t speak the language.  I decided to turn on my other senses.  I observed with my eyes. 

There was a woman invited to speak—she had long dark hair—she was wearing a black blouse with a pretty turquoise skirt.  She approached the pulpit and from what I gathered—she said she was nervous about speaking in front of us.  She started out a bit soft spoken. 

I immediately connected with her—thinking she looks confident enough—I would never sense she was nervous.  From what I could piece together—she had been away from the church but having returned she found peace.  One of the parishioners turned on a CD with instrumental music—and this soft spoken woman who said she was nervous— began to sing.

And oh how she sang!  She belted it out with all her passion and might.  That spot right between the eyes above the bridge of the nose—wrinkled as she sang.  I could completely relate to that feeling and look—because I sing with all my heart too.  (granted, unlike her, I have ZERO singing skills).  

My interpretation of what woman sang...

It was a moving experience.  Despite being nervous she did what she set out to do and she gave it her best—which was a wonderful gift to the audience.

Afterwards there was a reception and I happened to be standing next to her.  I turned to her—not certain if she spoke English but I said—you sang beautifully!  She smiled and said, “thank you.”

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.

If you find yourself out of your element—use it as an opportunity to grow.  Open your eyes, your heart and your mind to learn from these experiences because that’s how they become more meaningful.  Even though I didn’t understand most of what was going on in the service I observed courage in another person and I had the opportunity to show her my appreciation.  It was a wonderful way to spend my evening!  When you are willing to take a chance and grow you will discover nothing will hold you back and life becomes more interesting.

Day 28: Phone call from random woman turns into great opportunity


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 28.  April 22, 2011
This morning I heard some stressful phone conversations coming from our customer service center in our building.  Being a Carnegie graduate I was eager to help—but I didn’t know how to give any of the employees encouragement without coming off condescending or arrogant.  I can understand how the job can be stressful and thankless.  I wrung my hands and did nothing….

At 3:45 pm the phone rang in my office. 

I picked up the phone and said warmly, “good afternoon, XYZ company.  This is Susie Q.”

Woman on other end of phone:  “Hi Susie Q—how are you today?”

I replied with gusto—“I’m great!  How are you?”  (Note to the reader:  I have NO idea who this person is—she hasn’t identified herself.  I’m also anxious to find out if management will send us home early since it’s Good Friday.  Despite these personal concerns I decide to do my best by having a cheerful voice on the phone.) 

The woman on the phone replied with a heavy sigh, “I’m SO TIRED.  I’m hoping they send us home early today.”

SIGH… would you like to buy our services….

At this point—you can hear the sound of crickets.  I don’t know how to respond to this—so I stay silent. 

Woman on phone:  “I’m calling to sell you services in such and such we have the best services in town… are you the owner?”

I replied, “No I’m not the owner and our company is not interested.”

Woman on phone:  “Well, if you’re not the owner it’s not your place to tell me the company isn’t interested.”

I responded, “Just a note—it’s probably not a good idea to tell me that you are so tired before you try to sell me something.” 

Woman on phone:  “Well you were the one that asked how I was doing.  I was just answering your question with honesty.”

I replied to the woman, “I hope you have a good weekend—sounds like you need the rest.”

Woman on phone:  “Click.”

I set the phone back down after being hung up on and chuckle to myself.  I told my associate Henrietta the story.  (Henrietta spends a large portion of her day handling our customer service calls.  She has immense patience that I don’t have—but like all of us can use encouragement from time to time.) 

To dramatize the concept I said with enthusiasm, “Henrietta, can you imagine if you answered the phone and began with a low, unhappy voice like this:

     “Hi, this is Henrietta (sigh) what can I do for you (sigh).” 
     The customer on the line would respond, “hi Henrietta (sigh) I was calling to place an order (sigh) but now I’m too disinterested and tired (sigh).” 

Both Henrietta and I got a good laugh at my very exaggerated skit. 

I said to Henrietta, “that woman that called me is nothing like you Henrietta.  You do a good job.”

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Principle 20.  Dramatize your ideas.
Principle 28.  Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to. 

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Put enthusiasm into your work.

So remember, sometimes the best way to encourage, praise and motivate others is to give an exaggerated example of what not to do.  This method gets a good chuckle.  It also sends a message that you appreciate their work and you are giving them a fine reputation to live up to.  After all, no one would want to be the “dramatized” version of Henrietta that I played.