Day 90. This story almost had an unhappy ending until I figured out how to make lemonade from lemons…


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 90.  Friday, June 24, 2011

Preface:
I had a story about letting someone save face on Thursday—but decided to post a different blog topic.  In retrospect the “saving face” story was meant to be told today….

——–
I was talking to an associate on Thursday.  His face looked green—he seemed absolutely sick.  It turns out he made an expensive, careless mistake. 

Before taking the Dale Carnegie course I would have let the person save face.  But in my mind I would have been thinking… you careless fool!  Hope you learned your lesson.

Fortunately, I have taken the Dale Carnegie course and I handled the circumstance differently.  I let my associate save face—and I didn’t think anything ill of him.  I empathized with him and tried to come up with solutions to this expensive blunder. 

Friday was going really well—by the afternoon I had finished my primary task for the day and I was really proud of the results. I was confident—perhaps a little bold in thinking I had done a profoundly good job.  What a great day… I might have to revisit Mcdonald’s for a strawberry lemonade to celebrate.  (You might remember last Friday was horrible)

By the end of the day I had a list of blog topics that I felt were pretty stellar—and they were all very positive.  I didn’t have to make lemonade from lemons today!

Before I went home I analyzed some reports and realized one of my marketing campaigns did not do well.  Let’s be honest—by my calculations the campaign bombed.  It crashed.  It burned. 

I felt dejected as I drove home.  I worked hard on the campaign.  This was my baby.  My heart was in this campaign. 

Since it was my campaign—I felt completely responsible.  I felt sick the entire drive home.

 I tried to remember 99 percent of this day was great—but that darn 1 percent.  It made the entire day sour.  And now I’m facing the weekend.  I know I will chew on this failure the entire weekend. 

I knew I had to take quick action against my thought process.  I tried.  But I just wanted to crawl in a hole and hide for an extended period of time—perhaps a week…maybe a month…

I decided to review the facts.  Did I do my best?  Yes.  And I wasn’t trying to fool myself.  I really did. My team and I put extra effort into this campaign.  I went through each of the features we added to make this campaign something we were proud of.  I kept telling myself—I did my best.  I did my best.

Then I remembered Thursday’s events.  I did not point out, mock or criticize my associate for his expensive mistake.  Although he admitted he did not do his best—I did not participate in making him feel worse than he already did. 

Somehow I was able to piece together two isolated events to find my peace.

Whereas my associate was honestly able to admit he had not done his best—an honest analysis of my work does indicate my team and I really did do our best on the marketing campaign. 

Fight for your happiness. Work hard to gain a new perspective.

I smiled as I drove in to McDonald’s for dinner.  After all, today just wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t have my hard earned strawberry lemonade.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
Live in “day-tight compartments.”
Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.
Analyze your own mistakes and criticize yourself.
Do the very best you can.

I knew the potential disaster of me bearing the burden of a failure for the entire weekend.  I knew this was an occasion that I would have to fight for my happiness and not let circumstances beyond my control drag me down.  In the big picture—yes, it’s a shame the campaign did not do stellar.  But it doesn’t mean I have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders or spend an entire evening or weekend dwelling on the matter.  If we slapped this project together without any thought, care or effort—then yes I would have reason to be disappointed in myself—but even then it’s not worth an entire weekend of feeling regret or dejection.

So, my lesson to you—always do your best.  It is true your best might not produce the results you had expected.  But I assure you that doing your best and falling short of success is easier to deal with than doing a mediocre job and living with the regret that you were too disinterested, distracted, lazy, etc to put effort into a task that you can be proud of.

Day 75. I used Dale Carnegie’s principles by baking cookies….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 75.  Wednesday, June 8, 2011
It was 5pm and “Gasoline with Match Lady” emailed.  She was responding to my request for some information for a marketing campaign. 

It felt like Monday all over again.  Her email pretty much indicated I was wrong to ask for the information. 

This time, I did not pick up the phone for a fight with her.  Instead, I sent an email indicating I’d call her on Thursday morning.  By the time I call her tomorrow—we will both be well rested and with open minds.

Mmmm.... cookies

I proceeded to drive home, have dinner, write a blog, bake cookies, go to the gym, etc, etc.  The key here is that I did not dwell on the silly behavior of “Gasoline with Match Lady”.  I put the ordeal in a day-tight compartment—and I moved on to have a very pleasant evening.  A year ago—I would have let “Gasoline with Match Lady” or anyone else determine the outcome of my day.  Not anymore.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.
Live in “day-tight compartments.”
Don’t fuss about trifles.

My lesson to you—remember that you determine the outcome of your day.  You might have a person in your life that drives you nuts.  The frustration the person causes is not worth your time, health or happiness.  The best way to change your perspective is to put the issue in a day-tight compartment.  Then work on protecting and creating your happiness by keeping busy.  By day’s end, you can look back with a sense of pride knowing you didn’t let a silly person’s behavior get the best of you.

Housekeeping / Notes
Today is your bonus day!  Guest Blogger Elijah found an opportunity to use a Dale Carnegie principle while at a stop sign.  Read now!

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 13. Get all the facts before you abandon all your houseplants


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 13.  April 7, 2011 
This week was a challenge at home.  I have had to vacuum my kitchen dining area every single night. 

You see, I have quite a collection of houseplants by a bay window in the dining room.  These plants have been with me for as long as I’ve had my home.  Sometimes I forget to water my plants but they faithfully hang on for dear life until I remember to give them something to drink.  I like them because it reminds me of being in a greenhouse. 

But this week, my entire tile floor has a new, ‘peppered’ look.  These little specks of ‘pepper’ are gnats.  I’m not talking one, two, or twenty.  It’s as if someone took a pepper mill and dusted my entire floor.  It’s a despicable, horrifying sight.  I cautiously enter my home every night wondering if my floor will be completely black. 

I’ve been coping with this problem as patiently as I can.  There was a time I would have decided to remove all houseplants and never permit another plant in my home again for the rest of my life.  But not this time.

I wasn’t sure what the source of the problem was.  Was it one plant?  All the plants?  It hardly seems right to get rid of all my plants.    

So I decided to get all the facts.  What was baffling was that none of the gnats were alive—and they were only on the tile floor. 

Last night I did some reading on the subject and tried some poisonous concoctions on the plants. 

I was eager to see the results this morning.  UGH.  No, this time these audacious creatures were alive and well all over the tile floor—particularly around one particular potted plant.  I examined the plant and the soil was moving. 

This plant has now been relegated to the great outdoors and I’m carefully examining the health of the rest of the plants.  So far they seem ok. 

Did I really apply Dale Carnegie principles in this instance?  Absolutely.
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.

How to face trouble—
What is the problem?  What are the causes of the problem?  What are the possible solutions?  What is the best possible solution?

Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.

I didn’t enjoy the gnats one bit but I also didn’t want them to occupy my mind all day and night.   In order to solve the problem I needed to behave rationally and gather the facts and then take action.  Long term it wouldn’t do any good developing an unhealthy fear of houseplants!  Plantphobia?  Botanophobia?  No.  Not me.    

So remember, when you are facing a challenge, keep your composure, gather the facts then take action.  You’ll find this approach more effective than making rash decisions or going into panic mode.