Day 49. A head-on approach to dealing with stress using Dale Carnegie’s principles

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 49.  Friday, May 13, 2011
The moment I walked into the office it felt like a Monday.  I double checked the calendar… nope.  Today is Friday. 

A grenade was thrown at me first thing in the morning via email.  I was asked to change the scheduled marketing campaign that was launching TODAY to something else.  No problem,” I calmly responded.  “I have a backup campaign.”

Whew!  Look at me adjusting to change!  Before that Dale Carnegie course—I would have exploded.  Look at me now!

But then I realized changing the marketing campaign today would set off a chain reaction that meant a considerable amount of additional work.  I decided to hunker down at my desk and live in “day-tight compartments”.  I would tackle one task at a time, doing my best to prioritize.

But then another grenade was thrown at me via email:  “Smiling Daffodil—I haven’t been paid for my services for XYZ.”

And another grenade:  “Smiling Daffodil—have you invoiced for the ABC project?”

By this time, I pulled out my laptop and was playing my favorite song in a continuous loop in an effort to keep my focused and calm.  The entire building probably heard me whistling my heart out. 

I was REALLY trying.  But the grenades kept coming.

A coworker asked, “Would you like to proof this new packaging before we print thousands, Smiling Daffodil?”  “Of course,” I replied.

 Additional grenades:
“Smiling Daffodil, what do you think about this project?  Do you love it?”
“Smiling Daffodil, can you fix this typo on the website?”
“Smiling Daffodil, I need guidance on this project…now.”

I kept reminding myself of Dale Carnegie’s principle – “Live in day-tight compartments”.  I was really trying.  I was staying focused on work. I was not letting the countless, nagging requests get to me.  Everyone wants to be heard and feel important.   They each have their own perspective. 

I pondered what a “day-tight compartment” would look like.  After chewing on it a smile came to my face.  My eyes probably took on a devious, mischievous look. 

I quickly sent a text to my friend Tim to see if he happened to have what I was looking for in his arsenal of props. 

As the day progressed—or should I say worsened—I reached a point where it was either a second Java Chip Frappuccino or a trip to the store for the perfect prop for my blog today.

My eyes raced about as I glanced at all the amazing possibilities at the Military Surplus store.  A sailor hat!  Boots!  Army fatigues!

Then I found the prop I was looking for. It’s the image of me living in a day-tight compartment at my desk.  Do you think anyone would question me showing up to work with this on Monday?

The Dale Carnegie principles I tried very hard to use today are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
–          Live in “day-tight compartments”
–          Expect ingratitude.
–          Learn to relax at your work.

Ok, ok.  I probably got the wiring crossed in my mind—“day-tight” versus the very literal “air-tight” concept—but it certainly did provide an amusing distraction for me today in the midst of utter chaos.  Besides… what I REALLY wanted was a copper diving helmet. 

The lessons– yes, there are several hidden here…. When you find you are experiencing a chaotic day do your best to live in “day-tight compartments”.  Deal with each task, each ‘crisis’ in the order of importance.  Expect ingratitude—this way you won’t get worked up or irritated when people expect you to quickly accommodate their every whim.  And last—when you can—by all means—find a way to have fun.  You’ll find this will help relieve you of pressure and you’ll be able to pursue your work with a clearer mind.  And if nothing else—you’ll have all your coworkers very confused as you face chaos with humor.

Day 10. Weather forecast for Monday: Storms

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 10.  April 4, 2011
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.