Day 66. Sincere appreciation is the spice of life. For best results, sprinkle it often and liberally.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 66 Monday, May 30, 2011
My associate and I had to work on Memorial Day.  It’s not something either one of us wanted to do but it was necessary. 

When I arrived at the office I greeted my associate.  He explained that he has been working the entire weekend—getting up at 6 am and working all day.  He said he wasn’t complaining but he just wasn’t happy.

I responded by telling him that it shows he worked all weekend.  I told him, “Look at all the progress you made. As a result of your effort we will be ready for our big presentation on Tuesday.  We are more prepared than we have been in the past for other presentations.”

Showing appreciation adds flavor

I admired the work he did, asked questions and showed interest. 

Once I did this—his demeanor changed.  He seemed to feel more at ease, less stressed.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Principle 7.  Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Sometimes all a disgruntled, frustrated person needs is some appreciation for his/her efforts.  Everyone needs to be shown appreciation—and it must be sincere.  Flattery does not work—it’s empty, meaningless and most people recognize it.  (And if you’re like me—you resent it.)

Sincere appreciation requires empathy, thought and care.  When you show appreciation you’ll discover you have the power to affect a person’s behavior in a positive way.  This transformation benefits you by making you more aware that your actions towards other people really do matter.  You’ll start looking for more occasions to appreciate others.

Housekeeping / Notes:
Enjoy some eye candy while catching up on past blog posts.  Visit the Attn. Non-Readers section
Don’t let this be a solitary sport.  Please rate the posts!

Day 65. My choice in fingernail polish turns into opportunity to use a Dale Carnegie principle


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 65  Sunday, May 29, 2011
I decided to try something out of character today.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do but just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on—especially considering I probably won’t like the outcome.  But once an idea is planted in my head—it’s pretty much set in motion.

I decided this was no big deal.  Women do this all the time.  Granted, I have an important day at work on Tuesday—I need to present myself in a professional manner.  This action may contradict professionalism. On the other hand… I just turned 33—who cares what anyone thinks or says?

So I boldly went into the nail salon.  I told them I wanted a manicure.  But this time—not a French tip manicure.  I wanted color.  Not just any color.  I chose the darkest color I could find other than black.  “Eiffel for you” was the name of the color—a play on words “I fell for you”.  It was a very deep, dark purple…nearly black. 

I handed it to the manicurist and studied her reaction. The world didn’t come crashing to an end—which surprised me.  She did say it was dark but she didn’t try to talk me out of it. She applied the first coat and I was surprised I loved it.  She warned it would get darker with the second coat. 

Oh my!

Once she finished I had very striking painted fingernails that were screaming for attention.  Clearly the nail polish lives up to its name—because I absolutely fell for that color. 

So by now you’re thinking what Dale Carnegie principle could I have possibly exercised in this scenario?  From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles.

Yes, it’s just a silly trip to the nail salon.  The color of fingernail polish isn’t exactly life threatening or a monumental decision that can produce catastrophes if the wrong color is chosen.  Yet for whatever reason I had always hesitated to experiment with color.  I figured it was childish—or unprofessional or whatever other adjective you can think of.  But it’s just fingernail polish!  And in the event that someone doesn’t like it… it doesn’t matter because I do.  The key is to not fuss about trifles. 

As I’ve demonstrated in my special way—I let a trifle take hold of me for too long.  Shame on me—yet it’s good that I finally decided enough is enough.  So learn from me—and take the first step towards not worrying about trifles.  Odds are your trifle isn’t as silly as fingernail polish—which means you’re already quite a few steps ahead of me!  So now there’s really no excuse for you to not take the steps towards overcoming your own trifles.  When you do this… you might discover something new about yourself.  In my case… I LOVE very deep, dark purple nail polish.

Housekeeping / Notes
Catch up on past blog post entries.  Day 64 was about good listening skills.
Pictorial / Blogs at a glance page has been updated for a quick overview of the past 65 days by photo. 
I’m looking for a few good writers!  That means you!  Read up on how you can become a guest blogger.  I’ll do most of the work for you!

Day 64. It has taken me longer than 64 days to figure this one out.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 64.  Saturday, May 28, 2011
I wasn’t looking forward to having brunch with Robert, an associate from work.  In my mind, I had better things to do with my time on a Saturday.  I even tried to scheme a way out of the meeting. But there was no use.  Sure, I could probably get out of the brunch—but in the long run, I would not be better off for skipping the meeting.

I showed up on time and was mildly hopeful the meeting would go well. Robert and I chatted idly for a bit.  I could sense we were both trying hard to make the best of the circumstance.

Listen!

Robert and I aren’t great conversationalists with each other.  Neither party seems terribly interested in the other.  But today was different.  I put effort into finding something that interested Robert.  In this case, it was his recent trip to Florida.  I asked him how his trip went and he proceeded to talk non-stop about it.  I listened with interest, asking questions here and there.  When I asked particular questions—his face lit up—as if in shock that I would remember random details he had shared with me in the past.

He and I must have talked for about an hour.  Rather, he did most of the talking, I did the listening.  The brunch / meeting ended up being one of the most effective meetings we’ve had in a long time.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Win Friends and Influence People
Principle 4.  Become genuinely interested in other people.
Principle 7.  Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.

I am flabbergasted just how easy and pleasant today’s brunch went.  The reason is simple.  I became interested in the other person.  I chose a topic that was near and dear to his heart—and he talked on and on about the subject.  When we had exhausted the subject he then turned to me and asked me questions about subjects near and dear to my heart.  He too listened attentively and asked questions.

It is true that most people like talking about themselves.  That won’t change.  But your approach can change.  By taking interest in other people and encouraging them to talk about themselves, you end up making friends along the way.  This is a more rewarding approach to take with people instead of dominating a conversation or not engaging at all with them.

Day 63. Place your bets now: A short-term loss will pay off on Tuesday and beyond.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 63.  Friday, May 27, 2011
It was roughly 4:45 pm.  Everyone is in “vacation” mode because it’s a three day weekend.  I met with my associate and asked how confident he felt about the upcoming video we are shooting on Tuesday.

He sighed. “I’m not feeling very good about it,” he said. 

I paused. I weighed the options in my head.  I took a deep breath and said, “you know—I realize it’s the weekend and you probably have plans with your family.  But maybe we should work on Monday (Memorial Day).  If it means we will be more prepared for Tuesday, I’m all for it.  Because come Tuesday, we will be too stressed with final preparations that creativity will probably go out the window.”

My associate agreed. 

So on Monday, a national holiday, we’ll be working—getting final preparations complete for our video on Tuesday.

The Dale Carnegie principle I employed is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Do the very best you can.

I have been looking forward to a day off.  I’ve been pulling some very late nights.  There are a variety of art projects I want to work on in my personal time.  Heck, I just want to sleep!   Having a three day weekend is just what I need.  But I am also aware that if we are not prepared for this big shoot on Tuesday—the experience will be very unfortunate, very disappointing.  We must do our best.  And to do our best we must work on Monday.

There's no use hiding. Cooperate with the inevitable.

There is no use griping, complaining, weaseling out of or pretending that “things will work out” without actually putting forth the necessary effort to ensure things will indeed work out.  And as disappointing or irritating it is to have to sacrifice a much needed day off—in the end the organization will be better off for having prepared. 

When you accept the inevitable, you don’t waste your energy on negativity. Instead you focus on the tasks that need to get done and in the long run you will be a better person for it. 

(Full disclosurethis day by no stretch of the imagination was easy.  Even the Smiling Daffodil for all her efforts continues to struggle.  However, I can take a day off any day I choose.  So it’s not a complete loss.  Again, the goal is to minimize stress on Tuesday.  Place your bets now….)

Day 62. I found an out of the box way to make someone smile and you can too!


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 62.  Thursday, May 26, 2011
Today a friend was having a stressful day.  I wasn’t sure how to help her.  She always helps me out when I have a bad day.  I need to do the same for her.

I decided to do my best to make her smile.  Hmm… what can I do to make her smile?  What can I say?  I wasn’t really sure.

That’s when I remembered my unusual hat that I happen to keep at the office.  It was the right color to match the shirt I was wearing.  Although I did just get a haircut that I wanted to show off—this hat is sure to bring a smile to my friend’s face.

I put it on in a very nonchalant way and just sat quietly working at my desk.  I knew my stressed friend was busy but I came up with a false pretense to visit her in her office.  She took one look at me and grinned.  I smiled back innocently….

You see, I was wearing mushrooms on my head. 

Mushroom Head!

 

I picked up this ‘special’ hat made of mushrooms in Budapest a few years ago.  It was so unusual I just had to have it.  Who knew it would come in handy to make someone smile? 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile. 

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

My friend has been a reliable source for advice, a ready and sympathetic ear, a figurative punching bag, and countless other traits you could ever want in a friend.  While my help pales in comparison to what she has done for me—I want to do my best to help her when she is stressed.  I chose to help her in a very simple way—by making her smile. 

Remember, sometimes the smallest of actions can bring a smile to a person’s face—and this may be all that a person needs to refocus his/her attention and to lighten his/her burdens even for just a moment.  When you take the time to create happiness for others—you benefit by being able to enjoy the smile you helped create.

Day 61. Dale Carnegie’s principles prevent road rage.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 61.  Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The wonders of perspective.

I was driving home from work considering my blog options for the evening. I was thinking— no I can’t write about that instance quite the way I want to— I need to keep this blog family friendly. (it was a very frustrating day).  I grumble to myself.

The route I drive home is a long street that spans several cities.  It has synchronized lights pretty much the entire journey. As I crossed an intersection with a fresh green light, going 45-50 mph—I spotted unusual movement from the left side of the intersection. It couldn’t be, I thought. I verified my green light. I tap slowly on the brakes….then I stomp on the brakes and blared my horn like my life depended on it.

The unusual movement I noticed was a car that turned left on a red light… into my lane.  I was certain the accident was unavoidable.

I have no idea how I stopped just short of rear ending the car. 

I was so tempted to follow her and tell her exactly what I thought of her.  I came very close.  I slowed the car down and quickly weighed the options.
I decided not to escalate the moment any more than she had done with her carelessness. I instead focused on the miracle of not rear ending her while going 45-50 mph.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings—not your troubles.
Pray.

Despite being so shaken and upset by the driver I was very quick to thank God for protecting me. I was lucky to have noticed her. It was a busy intersection. I was lucky there wasn’t a car behind me—because I could have been rear ended in the process of avoiding an accident. 

The idiot driver who ran the red light was lucky she didn’t hit traffic that was in front of her. 

So remember, as bad as a day may have been at work it could always be worse.  So count your blessings and don’t dwell on your troubles.  When you take this approach the hassles of the day take on an insignificant role and you are left to focus on the important aspects in your life.

Day 60. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Get all the facts first!


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Get all the facts first!

Day 60.  Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I was getting ready to launch a campaign to help promote one of our new products today.  I had an associate look it over and he replied that he didn’t want me to proceed.  I would need to come up with a new campaign right away.

In the spirit of living the Dale Carnegie principles, I took a deep breath and said, “no problem.  I’ll whip up Plan B.”

I started considering what Plan B would actually be—and my thought process took a turn.  I crawled into my associate’s head and considered his point of view. 

I then asked my associate some questions about the campaign I had originally proposed.  I was gauging to see if he understood the campaign.  He did not.  In fact, he completely misunderstood what I was doing.  I don’t think he actually read anything I sent him.  When my suspicions were confirmed I clarified my plan—and he completely changed his mind.  He completely loved the idea and wanted me to proceed as originally planned.  He apologized for the confusion.

This scenario only lasted a couple minutes.  But it had great potential to wreak havoc on the entire day.  Aside from almost having to redo all my work… I could have also wasted valuable time chewing on the fact that my associate didn’t take the time to read the campaign.  Instead, I took a DEEP breath and focused on the good.  The good was:  I didn’t have to start my work all over.  I also considered the fact that my associate must be very busy and stressed to have missed the key points to the campaign. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 17.  Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
Principle 23.  Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
Principle 26.  Let the other person save face.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.

I demonstrated flexibility to adjust my plans. But I also decided to see things from my associate’s perspective.  When I did this—it became obvious to me that he did not understand the campaign.  With a few polite questions I was able to clarify the details with him and I avoided having to create an entirely new campaign.  I didn’t say he was careless.  I focused on the objective of getting work complete. 

So remember, if someone says they don’t like your work, your project, etc—gather all the facts.  It could be they just don’t understand it and need a few clarifications.  Don’t assume what you have created is completely wrong and that you need to start over!  If you ask a few polite questions you may discover there’s nothing wrong with your work at all or you may need to make a few minor adjustments.  Either way, by gathering all the facts you are in a better position to move forward and achieve your objective.

Day 59. When you feel overwhelmed, consider your surroundings


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 59.  Monday, May 23, 2011
Having arrived at 2 am from my trip on Monday morning, I opted to go into the office a little late today. 

Despite getting rest I was stressed all day.  I learned new techniques from the art conference I just returned from and I had so many different projects I wanted to test them on—that my day was rather unproductive.

My desk was messier than usual with all the new supplies and materials I brought from the convention.  At the end of my “half day” at work—I felt very unproductive and wondered why I went to the office.

Then I came home and continued to feel overwhelmed.  I realized the problem.  My suitcase needed unpacking. I had a load of laundry to run.  I needed to unload the dishwasher.  I had a stack of mail to go through.  I needed to sweep the kitchen. 

Time to clean!

Once I took care of these and a various other tasks this evening, I didn’t feel so overwhelmed anymore.

I adapted Dale Carnegie’s principle from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Clear your desk of all papers except those relating to the immediate problem at hand.

When you start feeling overwhelmed, look at your surroundings and consider the possibility that the excessive clutter and disorganization may be the cause of the unnecessary stress.  Then take the important step of cleaning.  You’ll be amazed how good the results feel.

Housekeeping / Notes
Help yourself!  Send friends, family, associates and challenging individuals in your life a link to one of your favorite Smiling Daffodil blog posts.  You never know… the positive influence might just rub off on them… and you’ll be the hero!

For your convenience, read past entries and browse oddball photos here

Day 58. Take the time to enjoy the seaweed… an application of Dale Carnegie’s principles.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 58.  Sunday, May 22, 2011
My art conference ended at noon and I had three hours to spend before having to go to the airport.  The instructor in my class suggested I go to Newport Beach which surprisingly was just twenty minutes away!

Finally, my status as The Smiling Daffodil is paying off...ha

The hotel arranged a ride for me and I was off on a new adventure.  I wasn’t dressed for the beach—I had sneakers, jeans and one of my better dress shirts.  Before the driver dropped me off I mentioned my concern about getting back to the hotel.  He assured me there were plenty of taxis available and he gave me his business card. 

So we parted ways and I decided to do my best to live in the moment.  I saw plenty of restaurants and shops to occupy my time.  But then I got distracted by the beach….

I stripped my feet of my sneakers and socks.  I rolled up my jeans above my ankles.  I approached the beach with a look of wonder and excitement. 

As I approached the shore, I plopped my white purse and my tote of art supplies on the sand.  I figured if anything gets dirty surely it could be wiped clean.  Besides, I have other purses….

I got my feet wet and it wasn’t long before I was stalking the birds along the shore.  They were just too amazing not to photograph.  I was so engrossed with photographing the birds that no one around me existed.  I was oblivious to everything but the birds.  That’s when the waves came crashing… and now my jeans were wet up to my knees.  Instead of getting concerned about being a wet mess—I decided to accept the inevitable.  My knees, legs and toes will be dusted in sand, I will be wet and my purse and art supplies may end up sandy… but I will have my fun day at the beach.

One man's seaweed is another woman's art

I examined and photographed seaweed, seashells, rocks, the waves crashing against the rocks, beach sand, sand castles… everything. 

At the appropriate time I was able to flag down a taxi without difficulty.  It turned out “Marty” the cab driver doesn’t normally work until 6 pm but he felt compelled to begin his shift earlier that day.  I explained that he was the answer to my prayers.  He smiled and said— “well, you know, I do have a bible near my night stand….”

Marty dropped me off at the hotel promptly at 3 pm—just in time for the hotel shuttle to take me to the airport.  As I sat in the shuttle I reflected on the day.  I didn’t spend my day worrying about how I’d spend 3 hours.  I didn’t worry about transportation.  I didn’t worry about getting all dirty at the beach.  Instead I lived happily in the moment—being grateful for every moment of that afternoon.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles.
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Count your blessings—not your troubles.

I counted my blessings—I had free time to spend and I was able to spend it in a rather unexpected way… on a beach.  I didn’t worry about how I’d return to the hotel.  I didn’t worry about getting my jeans all wet.  I lived in the moment and had one of the best “traveling work days” in a long time. 

The lesson I hope to convey is that much of the stress, discontent and unhappiness surrounding a day can be self-inflicted.  You will discover how much a relief it can be to just live in the moment instead of worrying.  Count each blessing—no matter how small—and don’t waste a moment on petty worries like getting your jeans all wet from the ocean!  Instead—see it as blessing!  Wow—instead of being in Texas at this very moment, I’m on a beach in California with my feet covered in sand.  Does life get any better than this?

Housekeeping / Notes
Real daffodils fade but fortunately The Smiling Daffodil’s blog posts are timeless.  Catch up on archives.

Day 57. How Dale Carnegie helped me see the forest for the stitches… err trees….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 57.  Saturday, May 21, 2011
I had mixed feelings as I walked into my first art class today.  Did I bring the right supplies?  Can I fool my talented classmates into thinking I’m an artist like them? And the really important concern—can I bring my Starbucks Frappuccino into the classroom?

I asked hesitantly if I could bring my drink in.  The instructor and other students replied, “Of course!  We did!”

Class unfolded in such a wonderful way.  The instructor explained she’s rather laid back and there are few rules.  She encouraged us to learn her basic techniques then run with them.  Those were magic words. 

I approach paint with enthusiasm

We began by designing our own fabric using acrylic paints, watercolor pencils, markers and paintbrushes in various sizes.  The instructor explained not to get too attached to the piece of fabric—as we’d be cutting it up into small pieces, layering it and sewing it together in the second half of the class. 

I let loose on the fabric.  I even skipped lunch so that I could paint more yardage of fabric.  I was out of control.  My hands were covered in paint.  I was blissfully happy.

Surprisingly, most of the paint ended up on my hands instead of the fabric

When the second half of the class began, the instructor taught us the sewing techniques we needed. 

While I’m not an expert at sewing or with all the different machines—it’s not my first rodeo.  I was chomping at the bit to begin.  I was certain the second half of the class was going to be just as thrilling as the first half.

I sat down at the machine.  The machine technically worked.  But there is an art and science to setting up the machine.  My stitches were not turning out right.  I know they weren’t based on my experience proofing countless articles on the subject.  But I’m not an expert at this particular model of machine.  And it’s not my place to try to fix it. 

So as a student, I asked for help correcting the tension setting on the machine.  One of the assistants came over and explained it was fine.  I explained—“no—look at the stitches.”  She tried a setting continued to insist it was fine and she walked off.  I mumbled to myself.

I was irritated.  My machine, while it technically was ‘sewing’ it was sewing incorrectly.  It wasn’t user error.  It was machine error.  I started to shut down.  My wonderful little project was turning out horribly by my standards.  All I could see were the horrible stitches.  (white bobbin thread was visible on the top—in sewing terms this is a big offense).

I continued to struggle with the machine. I switched machines.  I even called my friend in another state to see if she could walk me through the tension problem on the machine. 

Nothing I did fixed the problem. 

I was irritated.  My feeling toward this blissfully wonderful class was turning into a bad experience.  Stupid machine.  Stupid thread.  Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I started talking to a student next to me.  I admired the progress she was making on her project.    Mainly—I wanted to see if she had nasty white bobbin thread on top of her fabric.  She had a little but not too bad.  And she wasn’t concerned about it.  She mentioned she was having a hard time quilting because she has rheumatoid arthritis.  She also said she wished she had painted more fabric like I did.  I gave her some of my prized painted fabric and encouraged her to cut up more if she’d like. 

Somehow talking to her diffused my tension.  I decided to accept the inevitable.  My art piece was going to have white bobbin thread on top.  I did everything I could to fix the problem—to no avail.  So the best option was to just take a deep breath and surrender to fun.  I put the foot pedal to the metal on the sewing machine and stitched aimlessly, carelessly through my layers of fabric. 

My fabric. My art. So there!

A few minutes into this process—I was having ridiculous fun again.  Another student walked by and she asked me if I’m a quilter.  I laughed and asked if someone paid her to say that.  (What I really wanted to say was— did Dale Carnegie put you up to that question?). 

The irony is that I wasted valuable time getting worked up about the thread.  I couldn’t see the forest from the trees—or in this case—the stitches from the art piece.  I was so caught up with the detail of the thread that I couldn’t recognize this experience for what it is—a very liberating, fun, artistic class with absolutely no rules and no criticism.

The Dale Carnegie lesson used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Create happiness for others.
Don’t fuss about trifles.

No matter how hard we try, sometimes there are circumstances we cannot change or improve upon in the exact way we want to fix them.  In these instances, take a deep breath and accept the inevitable.  Do what you can to make the best of a situation.  When you do this—you’ll find it’s a lot more bearable and in my scenario, I was able to end the class on a positive note.  Taking this approach is far more relaxing and a better way to end the day than fixating on trifles like slight imperfections in stitches.

(As a side note, the swirly, curvy, stitches were intentional.  It’s known as “stippling.”  I really do know how to stitch a straight stitch, but wasn’t trying)

Housekeeping / Notes:
Smiling Daffodil’s blog posts don’t fade!   Be sure to visit past blog posts you may have missed: 
Day 56.  How I let art supplies occupy too much of my time and what I did about it…
Pictorial of blog posts