Day 15. Try this approach when your hair gets bushwacked by enormous scissors


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 15.  April 9, 2011 
It was Saturday, January 8, 2011.  My hairdresser wasn’t available—but another stylist was willing to cut my hair.  I didn’t think it was a big deal—it’s just a short haircut—surely anyone can cut my hair.  I showed the stylist a photo of my last haircut and explained I like it short but feminine.

This woman began cutting mercilessly, with what appeared to be trimmers that are meant for yard work.  (Yes, I mildly exaggerate, but these were some large scissors my hairdresser would never use on me). 

It looked like someone trimmed my hair with hedge shears...

At this time I was still enrolled in the Dale Carnegie course.  I reviewed the principles in my head and decided I’d trust this woman to cut my hair.  She’s a professional.  But halfway into this I did remind her politely—please be sure it’s still feminine….

When she was finished—I had super short, spiked hair.  She put gel in it to make sure those spikes would stick up.  I wanted to cry.  I clung to my Carnegie principles as best I could but the look on my face gave me away. 

I kept reminding myself it’s just hair and that I will have to be patient as it grows back.  The worst that can happen is that someone mistakes me for a boy.  So I solved this problem by wearing earrings, necklaces, mascara and a headband.  I also decided that if I smile maybe people will be distracted by the smile they won’t notice the horrible haircut. 

Fast forward to Saturday April 9, 2011.   My hair is finally long enough to get it cut by my trusted hairdresser.  As I watched my hairdresser cutting with focus and precision with her small scissors I reflected on the last three months.

Ironically, the last three months have been among the best:

  • I graduated the Dale Carnegie course. 
  • I had an incredibly successful business trip where I was able to use my new skills from the Dale Carnegie course.
  • I’ve made some new contacts and new friends.
  • New opportunities have opened up for me.
  • I smiled far more than usual.

The Dale Carnegie principles I applied in this story included:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:

  • Keep busy.
  • Don’t fuss about trifles.
  • Cooperate with the inevitable.
  • Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.
  • Try to profit from your losses.

By applying the principles I accepted the reality of my bad haircut and focused on other activities and other people.  By doing this the bad haircut became a trivial matter. 

So remember, if you are faced with a disappointment figure out how to use it to your advantage.  Your life will be more fulfilling because you won’t waste your time and energy blaming circumstances or people for your unhappiness.

Day 12. A different kind of family reunion


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 12.  April 6, 2011 
Preface:  Ever since I began this blog I’ve been waking up excited—which is really bazaar because I’ve been battling mornings since the first day of kindergarten. (Yes, I distinctly remember that day).  Dare I say it… I’m actually smiling in the morning these days.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Principle 5. Smile!

I had no idea I just needed a goal to get me going each day and to keep me focused.   Quite simply, the goal is to have good material to write this blog for the two people who read it.  Ha. 

————————————
Hello Carnegie Graduates!
The first week of every month is reserved for a very special family reunion.  No, this isn’t with in-laws, grandparents or second cousins twice removed.  This is the class reunion of Carnegie graduates. 

I’m not sure how it happened but I’m the ringleader of this monthly reunion.  With our busy work and family schedules it’s a challenge to settle on a date that works for everyone.  I chose Wednesday because that was the day we would meet for class.  I had confirmations from guests but still wondered…what if I’m the only one that shows up this time?

Before the Carnegie course this is how the scenario would play out in my head:

  1. Why would I want to be in charge of organizing this Dale Carnegie class reunion? 
  2. Will people show up? 
  3. What will we talk about? 
  4. Where will we eat, what time, what day…and the details and worries go on and on – with the main concern being—what if I am the only one that shows up?  Oh, I’ll be mad and disgraced alright.

Now, since I’m a Carnegie graduate who is working diligently to hold on to the Carnegie principles—this is my thought process:

  1. Yes, I should be the ringleader organizing this event—I do a good job handling details and it looks like everyone seems to appreciate that I am taking on this role.  If I didn’t do this task—we’d never keep in touch and that would be a waste of an opportunity to help and support each other.  Besides, we had such a fun time in our last reunion….
  2. Several people have sent their RSVP and expressed their excitement.  I’m sure they will come and I’m looking forward to seeing them and hearing how they are applying the Carnegie principles.  I can learn from their experiences.
  3. What will we talk about?  This one oddly enough is funny.  It turns out even the quietest, shyest Carnegie graduate (me!) cannot stop talking.  There are so many topics that can be discussed—everyone has something interesting to say and we are a group of people who encourage one another.  These are people you want to be around.  Their stories are among the best.  We are good at talking and listening.
  4. If no one shows up it will be ok.  I’ll certainly order dinner and have a pleasant meal by myself.  Besides—it will be an interesting test to see how I react to the unexpected or a disappointing circumstance as a Carnegie graduate.  Besides, I will take heart knowing I did my part of stepping out of my comfort zone. 

I’m sure you’re at the edge of your seats… did I eat by myself this evening?  Oh the drama….

No I did not.  What a marvelous time the five of us Carnegie graduates had together!  We come from completely different backgrounds—yet we all have a firm desire to improve ourselves and the way we handle circumstances in our lives.  We build up, encourage and are genuinely interested in each other. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I applied today:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 7.  Become genuinely interested in other people.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”  Prepare to accept the worst.  Try to improve on the worst.
Create happiness for others.

Getting the group of Carnegie graduates together—whether it’s two, three, five or ten of us—is an opportunity to create happiness for others and the perfect chance to become genuinely interested in and learn from people that come from different walks of life.  Sure, I run the risk of being the only one that shows up to an event—or being that person that sends those countless annoying email reminders about upcoming events… but that is a position I am willing to put myself in because of what I can gain.  It’s all about perspective.

Day 11. A fork in the road


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 11.  April 5, 2011
 I was at work with some associates when a discussion arose regarding another employee—named ‘McKinley Jones’.  The discussion was whether McKinley would be the appropriate person to take on a new responsibility at work. 

Now, before I took the Dale Carnegie course, I would have said something like this:
McKinley does a good job BUT…. McKinley doesn’t tend to come up with new ideas… if you remember, McKinley had a difficult time completing the last task… etc etc….

But now that I’m a Dale Carnegie graduate, I responded to my associates with these words:
It’s been my experience and I’m sure you’ll agree that McKinley is very good at following through on specific goals.  I think McKinley is up to the challenge of this new responsibility and will do well.  I am certain that if we clearly define the goals and tasks we expect McKinley to accomplish we will not be disappointed.

Now, to be clear—the second response did require some mental acrobatics on my part.  I had to take a deep breath and think hard about my decision.  I reached that fork in the road—where I could take the easy route of criticizing, condemning and complaining about an individual—or I could try a new, unworn path of finding the positive in an individual.  I chose the unworn path.    

Take a deep breath as you approach the fork in the road. Choose not to criticize, condemn or complain.

The effect—I did not damage the perception of McKinley Jones – I pointed out the positive attributes that McKinley contributes to the company.  Odds are high that when people think of McKinley they will think—that person is goal oriented.  Give McKinley a task and it gets done.  Period.

Imagine what the perception would be if I took the negative route to describe McKinley.  People would walk away thinking, gosh, you can’t rely on McKinley to come up with ideas.  Why is McKinley still here—or I sure hope I don’t get assigned to a project with McKinley.  This perception would not only affect the office but it would affect McKinley in a negative way.  McKinley would live down to the expectations. 

The principle I used today (and was really proud of this huge accomplishment) is from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 1.  Do not criticize, condemn or complain.

So remember, your words are powerful.  They can affect the perception that people have of another person.  Choose your words carefully and avoid criticizing, condemning or complaining about an individual. Focus on the positive characteristics of a person and that person will live up to the perception and expectations you have set forth.  You will also demonstrate a higher level of maturity and discipline.

Day 10. Weather forecast for Monday: Storms


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 10.  April 4, 2011
Preface: 
About midday today I realized I needed to start writing down all the possible blog topics for today’s Carnegie entry.  It really was an authentic Monday.

If I hadn’t taken the Dale Carnegie course, today would have been the perfect storm.  I think everyone and their brother, sister, mother and neighbor and dog decided to wait until today to need a piece of my time the moment I walked into the office. 

Instead of reacting or thinking everyone had lost their minds—I took a deep breath.  I focused on prioritizing the tasks that were thrown at me and I began to chip away with earnestness and enthusiasm. 

Picture me sitting in my chair—completely relaxed, whistling to my favorite songs on the radio as I worked diligently at my computer.  So much for the perfect storm! 

A productive, pleasant day at work

I could have sat in my office, reacting to the snippy emails and urgent requests.  I could have worried about the mountain of work that is accruing – but instead I reminded myself of Dale Carnegie’s principles from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles.
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries.
Learn to relax at work.

I didn’t let anyone get under my skin today.  Period.  I controlled my happiness by relaxing and focusing on doing my job with enthusiasm.   I also reminded myself of the law of averages—I have completed mountains of work in the past, I can certainly do it again.

So, the next time you feel stressed, try to relax—even if it’s just by taking a deep breath.  Remind yourself that the law of averages proves you’ll get past this moment just as you have in the past.  And do everything you can to not let your energy get wasted on trifles.  And if all else fails, do what I do… whistle while you work.

Day 1 of 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles


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

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

Day 1.  March 26, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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