Day 123. Enthusiasm is not only contagious… it produces results.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 123. Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I was on my way to a 2 hour seminar at a community college this morning.

I followed the MapQuest directions—and I estimated I was going to arrive a half hour early. It’s great being prepared.

Except as I made my final turn—I discovered I was turning in to a residential area. I realized the college was nowhere in sight. Was MapQuest wrong?

I double checked the address. I missed a detail. “Preston Park” was the street name. Not “Preston Road”. Who knew there were two streets with the name “Preston” in them? I continued on my journey and probably made more U-turns in one morning than most people do in a week. I was stressed because now my half hour of being early was turning into 15 minutes and I felt the minutes quickly slipping away.

I almost gave up on finding this place and considered going to work. But I told myself I can’t give up. Besides I’ll miss out on learning something new.

Finally… I found my destination. It was an office building. Now where to park? I circled a few times and found the parking garage. I got lost walking in the garage…. and by this time I was 5 minutes late. I considered giving up. But then I thought—no. I’m here… I just have to figure out how to get out of this garage and into the office building.

I composed myself and realized the obvious—take the stairs down. I made it to the office building and found my class on the 4th floor. There were several of us who walked in late so I didn’t feel too horrible.

The class was on email marketing and using social media. My boss has been suggesting I take these courses for awhile now. But until now I had no interest. I do email blasts on a regular basis already. And I have so many tasks on my plate—I really can’t take on too much more without breaking. My workload at times leaves me tired and jaded.

It turned out this 2 hour class, despite being free, was one of the most informative classes I’ve had the opportunity to attend. I left the class with rejuvenated interest and a real enthusiasm to apply the new techniques at work.

Enthusiasm has many uses just like a Swiss Army knife.

When I arrived at work I invited a couple coworkers into my office and I shared what I learned. I was excited and I have a particular enthusiasm that is contagious—I know this because I could see my coworkers around me getting excited and interjecting their ideas. This quiet office was now aflutter with excitement and even more importantly, we were implementing the new ideas now. It wasn’t—“we should”… or “we could” do this… it was let’s do it now!

Before my assistant left for the day she mentioned that she had some additional marketing ideas that she’ll work on this week. This was music to my ears.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Put enthusiasm into your work.

From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 30. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Oftentimes I am so busy with my own work that I don’t do a good enough job motivating those around me at work. Sometimes it’s just easier to stay focused on my own concerns. But today I found that by engaging with my associates—I set the tone for an environment that was more interested and livelier. Individuals wanted to take on new responsibilities and experiment with new ways of marketing—all because I went to a free seminar and came back bubbling with enthusiasm. (good thing I didn’t give up on finding the office building!)

Remember, if you want others to be motivated you have to be motivated yourself. You’ll also find that work is no longer drudgery but a great place to learn, implement new ideas and achieve success as a team.

Day 121. By focusing on one blessing today… more came tumbling after.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 121. Monday, July 25, 2011
I was sitting in Mass on Sunday when the priest asked, “what do all of us seek?”

My first thought: fame. (I figured God knows my thoughts—why try to conceal them.)

The priest answered the rhetorical question—“we all want to matter to someone. We are all seeking love.

I smiled to myself – well, yes, in a roundabout way, I guess that’s what I really meant….

This morning I busted into my co-worker’s office with the biggest grin. Look! I have proof that a complete stranger is reading my blog!

Needle in haystack
It’s like finding a needle in a haystack

I immediately looked at my co-worker perplexed. How did this person find me? I’m just a piece of dust on the Internet. I’m nobody. Yet… this person is reading my blog. And this person chose to “Like” me on Facebook. She’s my second fan and I don’t even know her!

My co-worker looked at me and said—just accept it. You’re not invisible. I left his office grinning ear to ear—admiring my iPhone that was displaying my one “Like” on my Facebook page.

I chatted with my friend again. “You know… I’m a bit embarrassed. It’s like inviting everyone to a dinner party but not having any food ready. I don’t have appetizers to serve for my one guest! The curtains to my new Facebook home aren’t even up! Nothing is ready!”

It was around this time I started sifting through Monday morning email. That’s when the balance to my day happened. Three challenging individuals from the past resurfaced today… on a Monday no less! I was absolutely stunned. As I read the email I could feel my forehead wrinkling—my whole expression probably said disgust.

Before taking the Dale Carnegie course I would have let these three people drag me down for the rest of the day. I would have reflected on the past business relationships we had with these individuals and would have questioned why we are bothering with them again.

Thankfully, I had the opportunity to take the Dale Carnegie course and this blog also keeps me in check. I decided to dig my heels in deep and think of one good thing about today.

I began to grin ear to ear as I thought of my one Facebook Fan.

The day took a variety of twists and turns—with more stress at work. But I kept holding on to one good thing about today: my one Facebook fan.

I drove home today trying to figure out what I would write about in today’s blog. All I could think about was a strong wish to say thank you to the stranger who decided to “Like” my Facebook page. You were fan number 2… a very brave move considering there’s not much to see on my page. And what’s more—I want you to know how that one act absolutely made my day—and gave me something positive to focus on instead of the difficulties at work.

And… you also gave me the courage to reach out to my friends and ask them to “Like” my page. At the present moment… I’m at a stunning quantity… 9!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t worry about the past.
Count your blessings – not your troubles.

Without going into detail—I assure you—this day could have really been bad. Having these three business associates back in my life is a real challenge—and will really test my ability to use the Dale Carnegie principles. By focusing on my blessings—in this case—a bona fide fan on my Facebook page—I took control of my day. I was absolutely determined to have a good day and not let these individuals from the past drag me down.

So remember—the blessings in your life are just what you need to keep your outlook positive. Focus on them rather than the negative individuals and circumstances in your life. Today, I proved this technique works and I am confident it will work for you.

Thank you everyone who has chosen to “Like” my page.

Housekeeping / Notes:
I am so thrilled to tell you that a friend has volunteered to be a Guest Blogger!  More information is coming soon.

For those new to the blog—new blogs are usually posted between 10 pm…. 3 am every night/morning.  Depending on when I’m able to post—they may appear to be dated one day off.  I am always racing a clock.

Day 120. It only took 119 days for me to accept I need to read a manual.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles
Day 120. Sunday, July 24, 2011

After 119 days I decided to break down and read some online resources on how to manage a WordPress blog. Until now I have accepted some very tedious quirks when cutting and pasting my text from Microsoft Word into the WordPress blog.

I usually spend a few minutes “cleaning” the text—by removing extra mysterious spaces between paragraphs, correcting really bazaar fonts that are selected automatically and making certain text bold.

After the first few minutes of reading the blog tutorial I learned some time saving lessons. I learned the blog uses XHTML code—not HTML. If I had known this on Saturday, I would have saved myself several hours of trial and error when I was trying to set up a new page. It’s not that I know how to code in XHTML—but knowing this information would have prevented me from trying to place HTML code when it absolutely would not have produced the desired results.

And in the interest of full disclosure I don’t really know how to code in HTML either—but I know my way around FrontPage adequately so I pretend I know how to code.

After reading more on the tutorials—I learned the reason why my text wasn’t remaining bold or italicized when I cut and pasted. Apparently, proper coding means you have to open and close a tag.

Well, the next obvious question. What the heck is a tag and how do I open and close it?

This led to another HTML/XHTML website that gave endless pages of tutorials on everything you ever wanted to know about writing code.

I really have no intention of being an expert. I just want to write a blog and post it efficiently. But I decided to roll up my sleeves and try to code from scratch without the use of FrontPage.

Easy as pie

The outcome… an actual posting that I didn’t have to “clean up” after I cut and pasted.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.

Instead of wasting additional time by blindly guessing how to post a blog page efficiently with minimal “clean up” time—I decided the best option was to read tutorials. Once I did this—I’ll be honest—everything didn’t magically come together. But after more educated trial and error I was able to solve some problems that have plagued me for 119 days.

So remember, a hands-on approach is admirable—but it’s in your best interest to get as much information first before trying to put something together that you have limited experience in doing. Try doing that dreaded task of reading a manual or asking a willing friend for help. This way you won’t waste 119 days like I did. Now I know how to make text bold and create a paragraph properly using code. 🙂

Day 118. I’m living la vida loca… I’m going to live in a day-tight compartment ALL weekend.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 118. Friday, July 21, 2011

All I could think about today was it’s Friday… I get to play on my new blog after work! Yay!

So this evening I fumbled through trying to figure out how to log in to my new blog.

Information Overload

I’m still not entirely sure which blog people are reading—the old or new. I’m loading content to both as a precaution. My techie friend tried to explain something about DNS and propagation… I dunno. All I know is that a friend clear across the planet effortlessly went to my new site—while I can’t seem to get on locally.

Everything is new. Everything has changed. I am completely, unutterably lost in cyberspace with widgets, templates, site analytics, RSS feeds, Face book links and who knows what else. I miss my old home—my trusty blog with very limited features. To make matters worse I made the mistake of updating my internet Explorer last night. I can’t even surf the Internet the same way—there are extra buttons and toolbars to weed out.

All I really want to do is write, photograph, post my work on a blog and hope someone reads it. Now I think I need a degree in Blog Management. As I told my friend Bellmont—I feel like a turtle that is spinning upside down.

I think there will be recurring Dale Carnegie themes used this weekend from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Live in day-tight compartments.
Cooperate with the inevitable.

I want EVERYTHING set up NOW. But clearly I’m going to have to sit tight and accept my blog will be under construction for awhile until I can figure out all the features. I have to minimize the frustration and information overload by taking my time in setting up the pages and learning the features.  And let’s be practical—this is all self-induced stressed. This is just a silly little blog.

So my lesson to you—take a deep breath when you feel like there’s information overload. Do your best to work through a task systematically rather than scatter your attention in a disorganized manner. By focusing your energy you’ll be able to see steady progress and this success will give you the motivation you need to continue to chip away at the task. Before you know it—the task will be complete and you will have gained new experience and knowledge in the process.

Day 117. Sometimes you must live in a day-tight compartment on a good day… who’d have thunk!

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 117. Thursday, July 21, 2011
I was like a kid in a candy store today. Or better yet, a child on Christmas morning ready to tear into the presents wrapped neatly under the Christmas tree.

Granted, I purchased my own gifts and I’m not entirely sure what I bought. I just told my expert techie friend to make it happen. And he did.

Hello World! I’m on a new server!

You see, I transferred my blog to a new server. It’s like moving out of my parents’ home and into my own home. This means my blog has independence, freedom and the potential for many new features. I can even have my own custom email address. I am bubbling with excitement as I type that last sentence.

The catch to all of this—there’s a learning curve. I can’t believe I’m going to say this—but I have to live in a day-tight compartment. I have to exercise self-control and not stay up all night trying to learn all the new features that come with being on a new server. And to compound the matter I’m not sure if my new website will automatically load when you click on my link or if you’ll be taken to my old page on WordPress. These are questions that really should be answered tonight—yet, I’m going to take a DEEP breath and let it go until Friday and the weekend.

The Dale Carnegie principle I am using is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Live in “day-tight compartments”.

I never realized that this principle would be necessary on a good day. But given my exuberance for a new server location, new features, new custom email addresses, etc—and very few hours left to this day—I’m going to have to contain my excitement until this weekend when I have more time. I have an important campaign to launch tomorrow at work and it’s in my best interest to rest.

So remember, although you may have the enthusiasm and the ability – remind yourself that Rome was not built in a day and you don’t have to prove it can be. By taking your time and doing things systematically you will avoid careless mistakes, rework and you get the benefit that comes with rest.

Day 116. Don’t let anyone rain on your parade of happiness.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 116.  Wednesday, July 20, 2011
This morning I reviewed work that my team put together.  I was giddy with excitement.  They did a wonderful job.  What amazed me most was their ability to make my humble product photos look professional.  My original photos were HORRIBLE.  I marvel at how they fix my lighting problems with Photoshop. 

I was so thrilled I had to show Harper, an associate from another department. 

Smiling Daffodil:  “Oh my gosh—look at the work that Bellmont did for us!  I wish I had his skill Harper!”

Harper:  “I could show you how he did it all day long.  You’d realize it’s not a magic wand he has—it’s skill.”

Smiling Daffodil:  “Wow!  Will you really show me Harper?  I would love to learn how Bellmont and his team crops and cleans the photos.  But don’t worry, I’ll just take a half day—not a whole day!”

Harper:  “Smiling Daffodil—people study years to learn what I do.  It’s not something you learn right away.”

Smiling Daffodil:  “Oh.”

I realized I stepped right into it.  I didn’t mean to.  I sincerely thought my associate would show me a few tips and tricks on how to use software that I’m not very familiar with.  I don’t expect to become an expert in graphic design—but I like to learn new things—especially from people that have the experience.  Even the simplest of functions in the software is amazing and new to me.

Protect yourself from people that rain on your parade of happiness.

Normally, I would have dug my heels in deep, rolled up my sleeves, put on my boxing gloves and argued back with this associate.  Instead I took a deep breath and realized it wasn’t worth it.  My morning began on a good note and I wasn’t going to let anyone rain on my parade of happiness.  Besides—just looking at the files that Bellmont and his team put together put a smile on my face.  I decided to show my boss the work.  She loved it!

The Dale Carnegie principle I used in this story are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: 
Never try to get even with your enemies.
Do not imitate others.

From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 10.  The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. 

I am a stubborn individual who will argue a point just out of principle.  But today I reminded myself that the end result would be frustration and my associate would still think I was wrong and I would still think he was wrong.  Time and energy would be wasted.  So I backed off, showed the finished project to my boss who really does matter—and continued merrily on with my day.  And I’m thinking of making lemonade from Harper’s words.  Maybe I should enroll in a course or two on graphic design. 

Remember, there are individuals in your workplace, home, school, etc that will never sincerely share in your happiness.  Be aware of them, be respectful of them and their perspectives and don’t let them squash the happiness out of your life.  When you take this approach you’ll control your happiness and you’ll continue your day in a productive, constructive manner.

Housekeeping / Notes:
Thank you for reading my blog.  You, my readers, motivate me to give you my best. Just don’t ask me to Photoshop anything.  Ha.

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.