Day 115. I planned on making lemonade out of my disappointment.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 115.  Tuesday, July 19, 2011
This morning I woke up and prayed:  “Lord, I can see myself putting the Dale Carnegie books far out of reach and battling it out today.  Please help me.”

As I drove I did everything I could to convince myself that today’s meeting was not worth fighting over. I remembered Abraham Lincoln’s words—‘Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.’

I chewed on the fact that they have not had the luxury of taking a Dale Carnegie course.  I can’t blame them if they don’t behave the way I want them to.  I have taken the course and with that comes responsibility.  I cannot bring disgrace to Dale Carnegie graduates or the organization.  I must behave.  I must remain calm under pressure. 

I touched my necklace around my neck with tiny fish dangling from it.  I wear the fish necklace to remind me of my first blog—the day I found a rotting fish on my lawn. 

I profited from my losses and made four new friends clear across the planet.

I amused myself that I profited from my losses that day.  When life handed me lemons I made lemonade (or rather, life handed me a stinky, rotting fish and I made a blog).

I amused myself that this past weekend I fearlessly cleaned up a water heater closet that was full of gecko poop and I discovered I’m stronger than I think.

I don’t how these thoughts clicked in my head.  I guess I figured if I could do those things I can handle this meeting. I resolved to be as professional, kind and accommodating as I could in today’s meeting.  I would be sure that my eyes would not betray me.  I will not shut down when they criticize and complain.  I will expect ingratitude.  I prepared for the absolute worst.

The meeting happened at the end of the day.    

The meeting did not go as planned.  The individuals in the meeting were quite pleased and more importantly—they were appreciative of the work I did.  They indicated my work exceeded their expectations. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this scenario are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Expect ingratitude.
Do the very best you can.
How to face trouble:
A.  Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
B.  Prepare to accept the worst.
C.  Try to improve on the worst.

To be clear—I’ve been waiting for this day for almost a year.  My workout at the gym last night was very intense.  I did everything I could to mentally and physically prepare myself for today’s carelessness and ingratitude.  I resolved that my best meant I had to be accommodating, patient and open-minded no matter what was thrown at me.  I put my heart and being into a project and I fully expected and prepared to get trampled on.  Instead I received a thank you. 

The lesson I hope you take from this story—the only person you can change is yourself.  Don’t expect others around you to change.  Don’t blame them for not changing.  Instead, figure out how you can adapt yourself to deal with the challenging people and circumstances around you.  Figure out how you can profit from your losses.  In my case—as I walked into the office I was fully prepared to leave at the end of the day with a story of how I made lemonade from the lemon of ingratitude I was handed. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised, grateful and relieved.  And yes, I celebrated by having dinner at my favorite Chick-fil-A

Housekeeping / Notes:
Thank you for reading my blog. 

Day 114. Despite telling me he was 99.99 percent sure… I was still unsure.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 114.  Monday, July 18, 2011
I carefully transported Maximus the infected laptop to work this morning.  I swiftly took “him” to Joseph’s office.  I didn’t have to say anything.  Joseph, the expert computer techie knows the drill.

In the afternoon Maximus underwent careful examination.  I told Joseph about the link I clicked on that I thought caused a virus and the steps I took afterwards.  I admitted that technically there were no symptoms of a virus other than I clicked on a bad link. 

I watched anxiously as Joseph ran all sorts of diagnostic programs.  He did some research and ran more programs.  After an hour he reported my laptop was clean.  He fixed some unrelated registry problems but technically he was 99.99 percent certain I never had a virus.

Being the Smiling Daffodil that I am I looked at him with a look of skepticism.  “But are you sure, Joseph?”

Joseph looked at me and said, “you’re going to have to trust me.”

That’s when I decided to use a Dale Carnegie principle from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries.

You see, Joseph really is an expert in his field.  He has a proven track record of solving problems by thinking logically, researching and testing.  I didn’t hand my laptop to a weekend techie that thinks he knows computers.  Joseph has decades of experience.  If he says there isn’t a virus—I have to believe him.

Heh, good thing I didn’t waste a single moment worrying about a virus that didn’t end up being real. 

Ok, ok—I admit I didn’t want to believe Joseph was right.  For whatever reason I believed I was right—even though I have virtually no experience in diagnosing a computer.  When Joseph looked me squarely in the eyes and reassured me that I will have to trust him—I realized I was being foolish for doubting him. 

The lesson to learn—if there’s a problem that you are unable to solve on your own—find experts in the field that can gather the facts and give you an informed analysis.  Don’t make a decision based on emotion or theories.  In my case—I really didn’t have any facts to prove the virus—perhaps just an active imagination that assumes the absolute worst. 

Day 113. Maximus my laptop is sick– what a great opportunity to use a Dale Carnegie principle

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 113.  Sunday, July 17, 2011
I made a fatal mistake on Saturday night.  I carelessly clicked on a link.  I welcomed a virus onto my laptop “Max.”  My heart sank.  I turned off the computer immediately hoping to avoid serious infection.

All the conversation around me turned into noise—like the sound of the school teacher in the Peanuts cartoon.

I had one concern and nothing else mattered—fixing my infected laptop Max. 

I was at my parents’ home at the time.  I was ready to go home.  I passed on most of the offers for leftover food.  (which really indicates my mind was preoccupied!)

I drove home stressed.  How will I post my blog?  I remembered I have my old laptop that still works.  What about photos?  I remembered I have an external hard drive with most of my photos.  Besides—I can always take photos with my camera and load them onto my old laptop.  I was actually able to breath a sigh of relief. 

I got home and ran the virus protection software.  Then I did something out of character.  I decided to accept the inevitable.  I’m not the most qualified to fix my computer.  I won’t see my techie friend who usually fixes my laptops until Monday.  I put the problem in a “day-tight” compartment and went to the gym. 

Try as I might to manipulate the inner workings of this watch-- I cannot speed up time

I didn’t spend my time at the gym chewing on my fears of an infected or dying laptop.  I didn’t think about the laptop at all.  Monday didn’t seem like decades away either.  It’s the day after Sunday and it’s around the corner.  Besides—this isn’t like the time I forgot my laptop in Michigan and was without my laptop for an entire week.  There’s nothing I can do about the laptop until then. 

I returned from the gym, wrote my blog on my other laptop—and life is good.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Live in “day-tight” compartments.

In all honesty—I have no idea how I’m not worried about my laptop Max.  All I can conclude is practicing the Dale Carnegie principles on a consistent basis actually does work—even with the most stubborn individuals like the Smiling Daffodil.  One of the unexpected advantages of a “sick” laptop—I was unplugged for the day and focused on a much needed afternoon nap! 

The lesson to learn from this story:  look at your worries objectively.  Don’t let the chaos of your fears and emotions take control.  Find a solution and accept that the solution might not happen until “Monday”.  In the meantime don’t deny yourself peace of mind.  When you do this—you won’t waste valuable energy on things you cannot control.  You will be happier, healthier and you might find an opportunity to do something relaxing like take an afternoon nap. 

Housekeeping / Notes:
Thank you for reading my blog.  Be looking for incremental improvements during the coming weeks. 

Day 112. Dale Carnegie’s principles reminded me of who will be around during the best, worst and most vulnerable moments in life.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 112.  Saturday, July 16, 2011
The doorbell rang.  It was dad, grandpa and grandma.  Dad wheeled grandma inside the house as she sat patiently in her wheelchair.

The grandma I have always known has always walked.  She’s always dressed fashionably.  She’s never been old.  So the sight of a wheelchair takes some getting used to.  Who is this elderly person? 

Her health has recently worsened.  She and grandpa are in town visiting a new doctor. 

I offer grandma some water.  I reach for a glass and mom corrects me saying grandma can’t hold the round glass I selected.  She advises I give her the square shaped glass.

Right before dinner, grandma needed to use the facilities.  Grandma’s elderly condition is new for everyone.  She’s always been independent.  But now the simple task of dealing with personal needs is a multi-person process—particularly because no one in the immediate family is a health care professional.  Since this was her first time visiting the house in her condition they were trying to figure out which bathroom would be easiest for her to maneuver in.  Our bathrooms aren’t designed with the elderly in mind—there are no hand rails.  My uncle suggested she use the portable commode that they brought with them but dad said that the guest bathroom should work out ok. 

It was a very involved process.  And the concept of a portable commode was something that has never been on my radar. 

Understand that the Smiling Daffodil is a very private individual.  Admitting vulnerability, accepting help or being cared for when she’s sick are not her first choices.  I recovered from my wisdom teeth surgery by myself, for example.  Just watching the scenario unfold from the sidelines was jolting to me.

I was really struck by the family unit.  The family unit has a bond of trust, respect and dignity for its members in the best and worst of times.  There are moments of vulnerability—as in this case when grandma needed help to get to the bathroom.  My uncle, aunt, cousin and grandpa each helped her in the measure that they could without being squeamish or uncomfortable.  It was simply a task that needed to get taken care of—and they helped her out of love. 

You’re probably wondering what Dale Carnegie principle I used in this scenario.  The principle is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings—not your troubles.

I don’t often consider the many challenges that come with being elderly.  I’m the one that hates all public restrooms and pretty much any restroom but my own.  I had not thought beyond the germ factor to the real challenges—like not being physically able to take care of oneself and having to rely on others for help.  And I’m very impressed with how my family is stepping up and helping grandma with care, concern and love. 

My lesson to you—don’t take the smallest blessings for granted and be grateful for your family.  They are the ones that will be there for your best, worst and vulnerable moments.

Day 111. I was wrong about the talkative account representative who visited today….

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 111.  Friday, July 15, 2011
I heard the ding of the bell from the other end of the hallway.  We had a guest in the building.   

This guest was Susan, our account representative from the U.S. Postal Service. 

She was here to meet with Marcy who is in charge of our shipping department.

I heard the two women talking in the other office as I worked on a marketing campaign.

I was struck by the account representative.  She was very perky and talkative.  The conversation between the two women was just small talk at first.  But then Marcy began discussing details.  Details like the best method for shipping products to Canada and the challenges of shipping overseas, etc.

Susan, the account representative listened to Marcy’s woes, offered suggestions and was absolutely perky during the entire process.  There was even an in-depth explanation of why delivery takes a little longer to Hawaii.  Susan actually made the business of shipping interesting.   

See! There's opportunity to apply Dale Carnegie's principles just about anywhere!

I was also struck by Marcy.  Marcy does more than run the shipping department.  She handles the customer service department—she’s the main point of contact with our customers via phone and email.  I was so impressed that despite her workload, Marcy cared about the details of shipping. 

While I’m detail-oriented in certain areas, shipping products is something I consider myself the least qualified to do.  I cringe when I have to exert energy by mailing an envelope. 

I imagined myself in Marcy’s shoes meeting with Susan.  I’d be horrible in that meeting.  I’d be short and to the point.  Marcy put enthusiasm and cheerfulness into her work. I imagined how the meeting would be different if Susan wasn’t talkative and perky—what a dry and boring meeting that would be!  Susan clearly puts enthusiasm into her work. 

Their meeting ended.  I continued working on my marketing campaign with enthusiasm by setting up the html code, the links and various other details.  Broken links have not happened on my watch and I do my best to make sure it never happens. 

The Dale Carnegie principles demonstrated in this story are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Put enthusiasm into your work.
Do the very best you can.

Today I was able to witness other people putting enthusiasm and care into their work.  It was inspiring and a marvel to observe.  I don’t care about shipping boxes.  But I do have the tedious responsibility of testing links in html code a couple times a week—so I can appreciate the work involved in shipping boxes.  To ship boxes successfully someone has to care—and it’s even better when they put enthusiasm into it by finding the most economical methods to save the company money. 

My initial reaction to hearing a talkative account representative in our building was uh-oh… another chatty Cathy in our building.  But then I realized she did her job well—she was interested in learning more about our needs and her chatty style was actually effective.  She put enthusiasm into her work. 

For my part—my personality is the complete opposite—I’m not so chatty—but I do get my job done and with enthusiasm. 

We all have our strengths.  When we apply our strengths with enthusiasm toward achieving a goal—we are able to achieve success.  It doesn’t matter if the task is shipping boxes, testing html code, running a corporation or performing surgery.  No matter the task or your station in life—do your best, put enthusiasm into it and success will come.

Day 110. Surround yourself with positive individuals

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 110.  Thursday, July 14, 2011
Despite getting 4 hours of sleep I woke up chipper. 

I wasn’t even stressed with traffic on the way to work.  I kept singing my new favorite song for most of the 30 mile drive.

I got to the office and began sifting through my email.  My team emailed their completed projects for the week.  I reviewed them and they did a great job.  Clearly my morning is well on its way to being productive and stress free.  What a difference from earlier this week or even last week.  Thank God!

Some friendships and associations lead you away from happiness, health and peace. Read the road signs along the way.

Then I encountered an associate about mid-morning.  I was chipper and friendly with her but she didn’t respond back in the same fashion.  In the past I have let myself be influenced by her.  Her mood has influenced my mood.  If she’s having a bad day I’m having a bad day.  I’d like to say we mirror each other—but only when it comes to being moody.

When I realized nothing I could do would improve the matter with her—I decided it was best to take care of myself.  I carried on with my good mood.  To strengthen my resolve to remain in a good mood—I thought of upbeat, positive individuals in my life.  My gym trainer for instance.  My team of co-workers who rarely complain.  My best friend here in Dallas.  My friends at my favorite coffee shop.  These are individuals who are consistently positive and upbeat.  These are individuals you want to know. 

After reflecting on these individuals I felt better.  I then focused on working with enthusiasm.  The rest of my day remained productive and positive.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope.

Sometimes there are individuals that are negative influences in your life.  It is true we all have a bad day—but some individuals seem to have more than a bad day and they tend to drag you down with them.  You don’t have to live like this!  You can certainly do your best to lift their spirits but ultimately they have to choose their mood.  Don’t let these individuals bring you down. 

You need to focus on maintaining your own physical and mental health first.  You are worth it!  When you take this approach you’ll discover that individuals who are also positive will tend to gravitate toward you.  And individuals willing to change will also want to be around you.  These individuals will help you grow—as you will help them grow. 

The remaining individuals who are negative and are not willing to change will continue as they are.  It’s commendable to help them and you can do what you can but never lose sight that you must protect your happiness first.

Day 109. Take the time to notice someone’s absence and you will gain their loyalty.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 109.  Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I drove home on Tuesday evening, praying in a very direct way to God.

“Lord.  Please fix me.  I’m not in a good place.

I feel portly.  I’m eating like a horse.  I haven’t been to the gym in awhile.  My clothes aren’t fitting.  And there is chaos at work.  I’m doing my best Lord—but things aren’t working.  I feel like eating my way into oblivion.  I know the answer is the gym.  But I won’t go.” 

The next morning I checked my Facebook and noticed a wall post.  “Smiling Daffodil, I haven’t seen you in awhile at the gym…”

I didn’t expect a quick response from God—well, in this case, one of God’s tools—named Dr. House, my trainer. 

I decided to look at the facts:

  • I haven’t been going to the gym—so yes, I am out of shape. 
  • I had been working hard on a fitness program but most likely I have regressed.
  • I have also been entertaining quite a bit of sugary foods.  And then there are those trips to McDonalds I’ve been blogging about….

I wondered if Dr. House would believe that I had been working out faithfully but then I got distracted with my blog.  On the other hand—I’m just giving excuses.  That’s probably all he hears as a trainer—excuses.  But surely I’m different?  My excuse is valid!  Ha.

I decided to just accept the inevitable.  I told Dr. House that I am fully prepared to fail the fitness test since I haven’t been faithful to the gym.

As is the custom—he looked at me and said—“you’re not going to fail the test.  You don’t fail at anything you do.”

Clearly I could not accept this statement—so I insisted, “no, no Doc—this time I really am going to fail.”

Dr. House wasn’t buying it.  And I had no idea why.  But I appreciated his confidence in me. 

I took the fitness test on the treadmill—and not only did I pass—I improved from my last test in March.  He also had scientific proof of why I’ve been eating a lot of sugary foods.  My body has been craving sugar.

My trainer pulled me out!

I left the gym feeling 2 feet taller, 10 pounds lighter, with a spring in my step and a big stupid grin on my face.

I bet you’re wondering what Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story?
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.

It turns out that I was doing so well on my fitness program that taking some time off didn’t cause me to regress back to my fitness level in March.  I assumed I was very weak and had no self-control when it comes to sugar—but my system was craving it as a result of the intense workout program I had been on.  I assumed I was in poor condition.  My trainer said my heart was stronger than it has ever been. 

I bet you're thinking I'm Winnie the Pooh. Actually, I'm the Viking.

I didn’t have all my facts before today.  I just had a jumble of fears and concerns floating in my head that were discouraging me and stunting any chance for progress.  And these feelings were seeping into my daily outlook. 

When I got all the facts from my trainer—you can imagine my relief! 

So remember, don’t jump to conclusions.  Getting all the facts is the best way to correct a situation.  Once you have the facts, you are able to come up with a sound plan of action.  Can you imagine coming up with a plan with no facts?  Or with incorrect information?  This is not a good practice for home, work or anywhere. 

If I had continued with my original intense fitness program—I would not see improvement.  Based on my test results my program has to completely change in order to see progress.  Now I have a new program and I should see results in a matter of time. 

Housekeeping / Notes:
Dr. House—thank you for stepping up to the challenge of pulling me out of my box and setting new goals.
Mustafa—thank you for conspiring with Dr. House for the “intervention.”

Day 108. Count your blessings — not your geckos…

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 108.  Tuesday, July 12, 2011
This morning my door bell rang at 9 am.  He’s here! 

I was excited to open the door and greet Batman / Superman / or whatever name this caped superhero goes by.  The more “common” name is exterminator. 

The badge on his uniform indicated his name was “Scott”.  He didn’t say much and he wasn’t smiling.  Nevertheless, I remained optimistic. 

He asked me if the salesperson had gone over the service agreement.

I mumbled, “not really.”

He proceeded to explain the contract and stood there at my door waiting for me to sign.

I looked at him puzzled. 

I said, “I’d prefer if you walk through my home first and explain what you will do.”

He walked in reluctantly. I began to explain my gecko woes.  He wasn’t interested. 

He told me I need to go buy sticky glue traps.    

I looked at him puzzled. 

He explained they don’t treat geckos. 

I debated with myself at this point.  He might not treat geckos—but he needs to focus on how they treat the geckos’ food source.  Spiders, for instance.  He has not done this. 

There was dead silence as I wrestled with my thoughts. 

I explained to Scott that the salesperson led me to expect a different service than what I was receiving.  I explained I would not need his service and led him out of my home.

I was fuming.  I was expecting a team effort in ridding my home of these stupid, tiny creatures that have invaded my garage and my mind.  I had imagined having fascinating discussions on geckos and wasps’ nests, and various other invaders that are inevitable as a homeowner. 

Instead I drove to Lowe’s Home Improvement and bought sticky glue traps.  As I reflected on how my time was wasted and how the exterminating service completely missed the mark, a thought occurred to me. 

In talking to the salesperson last week, she explained they’d inspect the house and find the points of entry for the geckos.  Over the weekend I found that point of entry.  It’s the water heater closet.  The builder did not seal this closet completely. 

If I hadn’t spoken to the salesperson I wouldn’t have discovered the problem in the water heater closet.  I was finally able to smile again. 

The Smiling Daffodil is now an exterminator.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings – not your troubles

While the exterminating service did not deliver what I expected I did my best to find the good in the experience.  I will be the first to admit it’s not always easy.  I really had to work hard at not chewing out Scott and the salesperson who called to follow-up with me.  But in the big picture—it’s not worth it. 

Do your best to focus on the good and you’ll live a happier life.

Day 107. Superman made me use this Dale Carnegie principle. Grumble.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 107.  Monday, July 11, 2011
I had a different blog planned for today. 

But as I was driving home—I felt my system shutting down.  You know that feeling when your head just wants to crash on a pillow?  That was me. 

I made it home.  I ate more than usual… 4 burritos… and a 1/3 of a Hershey bar.  I didn’t feel stuffed.  I felt a bit better.  Just physically drained. 

I think the moral of this very short blog—rest before you get tired… otherwise your system will find a way to shut down for you.  My head and shoulders are aching.  My eyes sockets hurt. 

Brownies didn't turn out 😦

I called a friend asking him if I was dying.  He said I was just tired and need to go to bed. I argued back—I’m baking brownies.  And I haven’t done my blog.

He said shut everything off and go to bed now.

I negotiated with him saying how about I go to sleep at 11 pm.

The Dale Carnegie principle I remain reluctant to use is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Rest before you get tired.

Grumble.  Admittedly I am not superwoman.  I am not a robot either.  The stress of geckos, a home inspection by the exterminator on Tuesday, chaos at work and my bazaar late night schedule of writing blogs is catching up to me.  Learn from me—rest before you get tired—because the feeling I am experiencing at the moment just isn’t worth it.

And an interesting side note— it’s best not to bake when you are tired.  My brownies did not turn out this evening.  😉

Good night everyone.  Grumble. If there are typos… blame “Superman.”

Day 106. What to do when vines feel like they are choking you….

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 106.  Sunday, July 10, 2011
This morning as I was doing yard work in the backyard I became overwhelmed.  I was at the point that I was ready to annihilate anything and everything that was green with my weed whacker.  I actually considered pulling out the chainsaw and attacking all the plants. 

The passion flower vine is very aggressive.  And despite the 100 degree temperatures and very dry ground—nothing seems to phase this plant.  It’s tangled on all the other plants and bushes.  I managed to cut it back down to a manageable condition.  But I created a huge mess to clean. 

Next I tackled the morning glory vine in my patio. It was growing / covering my two patio chairs.  I was at my wits’ end trying to remove this vine.  I thought to myself—a zero lot home is the way to go.  No hassle or responsibility of a backyard.  The vine had twisted itself around the legs of the chairs—it was as strong as a rope. 

As I was tugging away at the vine I tried to think of a Dale Carnegie principle that might help me get through this misery.

I considered the fact that I have my health.  I am physically capable of doing yard work—I have two working hands two working legs—I am mobile. 

I considered the fact that a customer of mine was recently in a head-on car collision.  The airbags saved her and her son—but they both have some minor injuries they are recovering from.  Despite these hardships this customer is upbeat and positive.  This blows my mind.

I considered the fact that I am blessed to have a home that I can afford.  I’m not in danger of foreclosure or bankruptcy.  I am able to make house payments without worry.  In fact my biggest worries at the moment are a couple of geckos and an overgrown backyard in need of some tender loving care.  Sounds like a pretty good life after all. 

My reason for smiling today

As I was finishing my work I came upon a dragonfly on my magnolia tree.  It was very accommodating to wait as I grabbed my camera.  I was inches away from it snapping photos.  I had a big grin on my face—and remembered why I love my backyard and all the ridiculous variety of plants I keep.  My garden—overgrown or not—attracts some wonderful butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds.  I just have to be willing to open my eyes and appreciate what I have.

The Dale Carnegie principle I employed in this story is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
Count your blessings – not your troubles.

My lesson to you—if you start to feel overwhelmed by the burdens of the day—remind yourself of the ways you are blessed.  Run through an inventory of the various blessings—large and small in your life.  When you take this approach you gain a more positive perspective and are in a better frame of mind to take on the hassles of the day without complaint. 

Housekeeping / Notes:
I’m pretty certain you’ve missed some blog posts.  Click here to view the archives.

Thank you for reading!