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 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.
Pray.

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 92. Step one– get all the facts before jumping to conclusions. Step two– repeat step one….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 92.  Sunday, June 26, 2011
I woke up to the sound of a weed whacker.  Although I only had 4 ½ hours of sleep I was wide awake.  My neighbor must be using Dale Carnegie’s principle to subtly give me a hint that my backyard is a disaster. 

I decided I better get up and face the jungle that is my backyard.  I have a feeling my jungle is encroaching on my neighbor’s backyard.  A few years ago I decided to treat myself to the most amazing plant I’ve ever seen.  It’s called a Passion Flower vine—and it’s true to its name. 

Out of control

It grows with such passion and enthusiasm…. in the middle of my lawn…. in my neighbor’s backyard…. everywhere. 

Passion flower

The blooms, the fragrance and the butterflies are the tradeoff for the enthusiastic takeover of my backyard.  I just can’t bring myself to get rid of the vine.  But I must admit by the time it’s summer I give up on the vine and count the days for the first frost so that nature can destroy it for the season. 

I went outside to deal with the jungle.  Except now I didn’t hear any weed whackers, lawnmowers or any signs of life in the neighborhood.  I assumed the worst—that my neighbors were irritated with me.  But I was mistaken. 

I figured since I was up I might as well do my best to trim the vine.  By the time I was finished cutting it away I was drenched—it gets rather hot during the summers in Texas.  I was too late to attend church in the morning so I planned on going in the evening.

I got cleaned up and went to the nail salon.  I was getting my nails done—in my favorite deep dark purple color when I felt myself turning white as a ghost.  I was on the verge of passing out. 

My first thought, “Lord, is this punishment for not going to church in the morning?  I’m going to go in the evening.  I won’t skip Mass.  There have only been two documented cases of me not going to church—once when I was a sick as a kid and the other time when I was recovering from my wisdom teeth being removed.”

I hoped God believed my sincerity that I’d follow through and go in the evening.  First the rebellious dark nail polish, now church in the evening… what’s next? 

Well, the woman painting my nails must have noticed me turning white.  She offered me water and asked, “Smiling Daffodil, have you eaten?”

The thought had not occurred to me.  “No… I haven’t.  That’s probably it.”

I reviewed the facts: 
– Heavy yard work this morning in the very hot sun
– Lack of sleep
– An intense workout at the gym around midnight
– My last meal sometime around 9 pm the night before

Yes…odds are these factors were causing my light-headedness today.

She brought me water and I did my best to stay calm.  I think the smell of the nail polish kept me from passing out. 

My nails were complete and I drove home amused.  Clearly, for all my efforts to use the Dale Carnegie principles I continue to assume the worst and let the worst get the best of me.  I assumed my neighbors were up in arms with my jungle-style backyard.  I assumed God was punishing me for going to evening Mass instead of morning Mass.  Looking back, I am the cause of undo stress!

The principle I am slow to use is from Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.

Learn from my mistakes.  When you are faced with worry, doubt or a decision you must make—get all the facts first.  When you take this approach you’re in a better position to face your troubles more objectively and with a sound mind. 

Addition
Within an hour of me writing this piece—I was texting an associate from work.  It was a positive conversation.  But then out of nowhere he sent a frowning emoticon 😦  I wondered why he did this.  Then my thoughts went back to a marketing campaign I did that bombed.  Oh man.  That sad emoticon he sent is the result of my failure on the campaign.  My thoughts then went to tomorrow—Monday…and the possibility of being called into a meeting to discuss the failure.  It was at this point I did my best to pull myself out of my spiraling downturn of thoughts.  I reminded myself I did my best on the campaign.  We all did our best. 

At this point it was time to go to evening Mass.  I checked my phone and there was a text message.  My associate responded back—“oops—I didn’t mean to send a frown emoticon.  I meant a smiley face.” 

That’s when I thought—geesh.  When will I learn!

Housekeeping / Notes:
Today is the perfect day to catch up on past blogs you have missed. Click here for the Archives section.

Day 89: San Quentin, rotting fish and Dale Carnegie’s principle– “don’t fuss about trifles.”


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 89.  Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Last week I noticed one of my blog posts appeared when someone used a search engine.  This was not unusual.  But the phrase that the person used was unusual.  Someone typed the phrase:  “Why can’t you wear jeans at San Quentin?”  and my blog appeared in the results.  I have no idea how that happened.  It is true—sometimes it feels like I am in a prison—but I’ve never verbalized it.  (Oops!)

This morning I woke up and reached for my iPhone to review stats and search engine terms for my blog.  Sure enough—someone did a search and my blog post appeared in the results.  Although I was half asleep at the time—the phrase startled me completely awake:  “Dale Carnegie rot”.   

Rot?  

I thought—maybe someone can’t spell?  But I couldn’t think of an alternative word that was also positive… rotten, Rottweiler….

Since I was wide awake I got up and ready for the day.    

“Rot?”  I mean really?  I thought about the word way too much. 

I considered shutting down the lemonade stand—also known as my blog.  Someone thinks my stories are rot….

I struggled finding something to wear today.  I considered the fact that I have missed the gym for 5 days now.  I feel huge.  My blog and work are keeping me too busy to have time for the gym.  As it is I’m going to bed around 2 am.  I’m blissfully happy and productive but I’m also sleepy and I feel chunky. 

Maybe I should shut down the blog.  But then I remembered today is Guest Blog day.  I can’t let my friend down.  His blog proves the value of using the Dale Carnegie principles.  And if he was willing to be a guest blogger—surely then my blog isn’t “rot”. 

I considered the perspective of the person that typed “Dale Carnegie rot”.  Hmm… Yes… my stories can be a bit on the absurd, happy-go-lucky, pour on the extra sugar and syrup—sappy side. 

Yes, I can see how my writings might inspire the word “rot”. 

Hmm… I wonder which blog story came up in that search?  I concluded with sadness that all of them qualify for that description.

Well, I’m feeling fat, I have blemishes on my face, my hair is the wrong style, my house is a mess and my blog stories appear in search engines with the words “Dale Carnegie rot.”  Grumble.  This day doesn’t look so good.

So I decided to do the most logical thing.  I pulled out the Clorox and vacuum and I cleaned.  I amused myself thinking—it took the word “rot” to inspire me to clean.

Around this time I remembered some details I had forgotten about my own blog.  I had written a blog with the word “rot” in it.  My first blog was about a rotting fish.  It was the catalyst for me to begin this blog. 

It’s one of my favorite stories.  Instead of focusing on the malicious person who threw a large dead fish into my backyard to rot—I scooped it up, disposed of it and focused on making lemonade—by starting a blog.

Oddly, I have fond memories of the stench from that rotting fish.  The stench from that horribly rotten and fly infested fish—has become symbolic for me.  I take “rot” and other frustrations and try to find the positive and humor in them. 

So, a special thank you to whoever it was that searched “Dale Carnegie rot”.  I was inspired to clean the house and return to the gym.  (And I don’t think you were trying to imply my stories were bad.  I’m still trying to master the “get thicker skin” and “don’t assume the worst” principles by the way…)

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.
Keep busy.
Don’t fuss about trifles.

The lesson I hope you take from this story—you have the ability to control how you react to the day’s events.  Don’t jump to conclusions.  Don’t assume the worst about yourself or people’s opinions of you.  Simply don’t worry!

Do your best to look for the good, the humor—or my personal favorite—the irony of the day.  It makes the day more manageable and amusing.

As I type this blog and look back at how the rest of the day turned out—I had a really wonderful day!  To think I was going to let trifles get the best of me!

Housekeeping / Notes:
Be sure to read the post by my newest guest blogger, Esteban.  He not only makes lemonade but he demonstrates the qualities of a good father.  Click here to read his story.

Day 88. Let the other person save face.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 88.  Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Today I was reviewing the task list and noticed that “Bob” a contract employee had not submitted his work.  Although he has known about the assignment for at least a month and a half he missed the deadline.  He didn’t even contact me to let me know there was a problem or that the assignment would be turned in late.  Nothing! 

I knew this was an opportunity for a particular Dale Carnegie principle that I’m not very good at using.  So I decided to send Bob an email:

Hi Bob,
I wanted to check in with you and see how you are coming along on the XYZ project.  I can’t wait to see it.  Send me an email when you get a chance.   

Sincerely,
Smiling Daffodil. 

——
I heard from Bob right away:

“Dear Smiling Daffodil,
I am ashamed to say I didn’t complete the task.  I’ve been burdened trying to figure out how to complete it.  I feel really bad about it—it’s not my best work.  I have attached a preview of what I have done so far—tell me the truth—if you think I should throw it away and start over let me know.

Very sincerely,
Bob-who-didn’t-complete-his-task-and-feels-bad-about-being-the-difficult-contract-employee”

——
Well—how could I not smile with such a funny and overly dramatic email from Bob? 

He offered some other details about why he was having a hard time with the assignment.  Having this information served two purposes.  I was able to get all the facts before jumping to the wrong conclusion that Bob was just a careless, irresponsible employee.  And I was able to give Bob some encouragement and the opportunity to save face.

My response to Bob:
Dear Bob,
I am sorry you struggled with this assignment!  I reviewed what you sent and so far it looks great!  Yes, please go ahead and complete the assignment—but work at your own pace and once you are finished I will find make sure we use your work.

Sincerely,
Smiling Daffodil

I also volunteered some tips by pointing to my own challenges and struggles with similar projects. 

Bob responded and expressed great relief and appreciation for the tips.  He also told me he will finish the task and submit his work by the end of the week.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.
Let the other person save face.

Let the other person save face

I chose not to send a frustrated or angry email to Bob explaining how his delay has caused challenges for me.  Bob has his own concerns—he probably doesn’t care about mine.  So I decided to get all the facts before making assumptions.  When I did this—I was able to learn that Bob was discouraged with his work and I was able to give him the encouragement he needed to complete the assignment.

So remember, while it is easy to jump to conclusions—don’t.  Get all the facts first.  Treat individuals with respect and don’t belittle them as you get all the facts.  When you do this you will discover ways to give them the encouragement they need to willingly complete their work. 

Housekeeping / Notes:

  • In light of today’s blog topic I feel the need to confess.  My posts are technically a day off.  I’m a night owl—by the time I write my blog about the day’s events it’s technically the next morning—usually 1 or 2 am.  Let’s just continue to go with my delusions.  In my world I make my deadlines….
  • With that said, Wednesday marks an important day for a very special guest blogger.  I’m so excited to share the story and technically it’s ready to be posted…. but I’m going to make everyone wait until Wednesday evening.  So do your evening routine, have dinner, etc and then tune in for a very high quality story from a friend and role model.  I am certain his story will impact you. 

Thank you everyone!

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 44. Dale Carnegie’s principles helped me find my missing car


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 44.  Sunday, May 8, 2011
I landed at DFW airport around 10:30 pm and was anxious to get home and type up my substitute blogs and my Sunday blog.  I have tons of material to share.

I landed at Terminal E7. 

Darn it—I think to myself.  I parked at Terminal B.  That’s always my luck. 

I got my luggage and took a shuttle to Terminal B.  I smiled at the shuttle driver and gave him a good tip.  Life is good.  These Dale Carnegie principles are easy to apply!

I walked to the parking garage for Terminal B, section 7, Level B. 

Where’s my car? 

I can't find my car!

I had taken a photo of the sign where I parked—and now the sign is looking a bit vague to my tired mind.  I don’t know which Terminal I parked in.  I just know it’s Gate 7, Level B.  There are four Terminals at this airport.

I pressed the panic button on my car to see if I hear the alarm.  Nothing but deafening silence.

I tried looking up the departing gate information from Friday but United Airlines doesn’t keep that information online.  They only have current data.  For some reason, I had a mental note of the letter “E” for my departing terminal.  I remembered picturing an elephant when I parked my car.  And United Airlines always departs from Terminal E. 

I took a chance and got back on the shuttle and went to Terminal E.  (Where I landed).  I felt confident my car is there.  Fortunately, my load of luggage was light because I had forgotten my laptop in Michigan.  (ha). 

My second shuttle ride through airport

I gave the new shuttle driver a generous tip.  I strolled through to the Terminal E garage and snap photos here and there for future blogs.  I am not remotely stressed.  I am confident and calm. 

As I approach Terminal B, Gate 7, Level B—I see my car.  I get inside the car completely relaxed and notice my favorite tune on the radio.  Life is still good. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.
Try to profit from your losses.

Before taking the Dale Carnegie course I would have panicked that I lost my car somewhere in the very large maze of parking garages at DFW Airport.  But I realized there was no point in getting worked up.  I knew I’d find the car.  I had enough clues to piece together that I was certain everything would work out.  And it did.

Remember, instead of getting worked up about a potential disaster, stay focused on getting all the facts.  When you do this—you can solve your problem more efficiently and avoid needless worry or stress.

Day 33. The only reason I woke up today…my boss called me….Guess what Dale Carnegie principles I managed to use today!


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 33.  April 27, 2011
I woke up this morning to the sound of my cell phone ringing right beside my pillow.

Startled, I look at the phone.  It’s my boss calling.  I look at the time… It’s 11:40 am on Wednesday. 

I leap out of bed—frantic—and irritated that I overslept.  I called my boss back—and try my best to muster a voice that doesn’t sound groggy like I just woke up.

“Oh hi—I um—had a rough night.  Apparently I was super tired—and I overslept…” 

My boss responded in her usual generous way—”oh no!  Well, why don’t you just take the day off and rest up.”

I respond, “oh thank you—but I have a lunch meeting with Kelley today at noon… which is in 20 minutes….”   

My boss and I both laugh at the absurdity of my circumstance.  “I’m not sure how, but I will be there one way or another….”

So I race through my morning ritual of getting ready.  I said a few frantic prayers—please God, help me.  Please Guardian Angel—help me get ready.  This is not how I planned the day.”

Despite running late—I quickly check my email.  I see a couple of my friends posted comments on my blog… that was enough to lift my spirits.  Well, I guess it was worth staying up super late the night before to post the blog. 

I throw on fresh clean clothes—do my best to get the hairdo in decent shape and I run out of the house into my car. 

 “Please God… make me fly through the streets.  Please clear traffic.  Hurry.”

I decide my goal is to get there by 12:30—which is late but not too late. 

I race through the tollway—the speed limit is 70mph—which ordinarily seems way too fast—but today…. I’m pushing 75mph. 

New world record!

I manage to get to the office which is over 30 miles away… in 32 minutes!  Typically it takes 1 hour – 1:15 minutes to get to work.  If there’s rain…two hours. In snow or ice… three or more hours….

I’m so grateful I made it in record time.  I’m still pretty frantic—I literally just woke up—and my head is still groggy… and mildly aching. 

I walk in to the office looking for my poor friend Kelley who must be patiently waiting to have lunch with me.

No Kelley in sight.  I ask around—“has anyone seen Kelley?”

I sit down and check all my email.  That’s when I saw an email from Kelley… she woke up this morning feeling ill—so she had to cancel.  (She emailed 3 hours ago)

It was at this point I felt like a deflated balloon.  I took a deep breath.  I did my best to smile.  I decided to find humor in the rich irony.

I was so exhausted I felt like I melted...

You see—on Sunday I kept writing an email to send to my boss—but I just couldn’t hit send.  The email was to request a day off on Easter Monday.  (We had to work on Good Friday).  I not only wanted a day off—I needed a day off.  I have been exhausted.  My boss would gladly give me a day off but I just can’t bring myself to ask.  And there’s this pesky Dale Carnegie principle that keeps nagging me “Rest before you get tired”.  In talking to the UPS service rep yesterday she told me she spent the entire Sunday resting. I joked—yes, I’ve heard about that concept—what’s that like?  I just can’t seem to do it!  I’ve been chewing on the idea of a day off all week…

The Dale Carnegie principle I should have used today:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.

Instead of springing out of bed in a crazed panic—I should have paused… and reviewed all my emails. If I had—I could have agreed to my boss’s suggestion of taking a day off!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Try to profit from your losses.
Pray.

I accepted I would be late this morning and just focused on minimizing how late.  Plus I knew Kelley would understand.  Once I realized the lunch plans were cancelled—I did my utmost to profit from my losses by trying to find humor in the irony of the circumstance.

So remember, before going into a crazed panic– slow down.  Take a deep breath.  Get all the facts.  Review the facts.  Then proceed calmly.  Otherwise you might miss an opportunity like I did of having a day off.  Also– before getting irritated when you receive ingratitude, lemons or a heap of something I cannot repeat… do your best to turn it into something positive.  Profit from your losses.  The easiest way to do this is to find humor — to find some silly irony in the moment.

Day 26. Avoid egg on the face. Use Dale Carnegie’s Principles.


 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 26.  April 20, 2011 
Today officially marks 30 days.  Thirty days ago at precisely 10:05 am I sent an invoice to Charlene and I have not received payment for my work.  I was fuming this morning just thinking about Charlene-the-Deadbeat who clearly does not realize the very foolish decision she has made not to pay me.  I am considering my options of how best to burn the bridge.

I was discussing this matter with a friend over coffee—explaining that Charlene-the-Idiot does not realize who she’s dealing with. 

Granted, deep down inside, I am aware I’m not demonstrating very good Dale Carnegie-like behaviors.  It seems like all the Dale Carnegie principles have been put on a shelf somewhere—way out of reach.  This is a matter of money.  And I want what I earned.

Before calling Charlene-the-Deadbeat I was reasonable enough to take a deep breath.  I even said a prayer.  “Please God help me have a pleasant sounding voice on the phone.  Help me to talk in terms of Charlene’s interests.”  I flipped through Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book as a quick refresher of the principles I needed to find the strength to apply.

I picked up the phone and called Charlene-the-Person-Who-Will-Pay-Me-Now-Or-Else. 

I began in a friendly way.  (I was floored I was able to swing that!)  My confidence soared because I had this under calm control.  I didn’t open with “Where’s my money Charlene?”  or “What’s your problem Charlene?”  or “How do you sleep at night knowing you stiffed me?”

No.  I asked how she was doing.  We talked at length about what’s going on in her world—she told me about her husband and children.  I let her do most of the talking—asking a few questions here and there.  I was generous with my time and interest in her life.  We reached a point in the conversation where she asked why I was calling.  I delicately said that I hadn’t been paid—and was wondering if perhaps she didn’t get the invoice.

To my shock—she said—“oh no!  I sent check #789 two weeks ago.  You should have it by now!” 

She ended up calling the bank and confirmed the check hadn’t been cashed–so she reissued a check for payment in full. 

To top it all off she gave me some contacts that might also be interested in my services.

Get all the facts. Avoid egg on the face

The Dale Carnegie principles I was very SLOW to adopt but eventually did use:

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

Never try to get even with your enemies.
Pray.

Admittedly, I should have given Charlene the benefit of the doubt before assuming she was a deadbeat.  In all the years I have known Charlene—she’s a decent human being.  There was no reason to assume she was dishonest.  By taking a deep breath, remaining calm and getting all the facts directly from Charlene—I kept the dialogue positive and professional on the phone.  I learned more about my client in terms of her future needs for my services and I also gained some helpful business leads. 

So remember, before assuming the worst in a human being or a circumstance—take a deep breath and get all the facts before reacting.  This will save you from the unpleasant experience of eating crow, having egg on your face or even missing future business opportunities.  You will also prevent yourself from wasting energy on negativity or worry.

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.