Day 103. A new twist on the saying, “When life hands you lemons… make lemonade”


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 103.  Thursday, July 7, 2011
Back in May I negotiated a deal with my boss.  I told him I’d reach a certain number of fans on the company Facebook page by the end of June.  I told him it would be a piece of cake… chocolate cake to be exact.  He laughed and agreed to the terms. 

While I prefer money over cake—I am aware that life is not always fair.  I make lemonade from lemons as much as I can. 

The best cake.

Besides…this wasn’t just any chocolate cake.  Last summer the owner brought us a cake from Eatzi’s.  It was a fancy, overpriced chocolate cake.  If heaven served cake this would be the one.  This was the best cake I’ve ever had—well, to be clear—I had the crumbs that were leftover.  By the time I arrived to the kitchen the cake was pretty much gone.

Those cake crumbs had such a lasting impression. 

So now you can understand my enthusiasm for reaching my goal on Facebook.  I did reach my goal—in fact two weeks ahead of schedule.  The minute I hit the mark I let my boss know it was time for my cake. 

Days passed.  Weeks passed.  No cake. 

About a month later my boss walks in with my cake. I was beaming. 

It was a mini-sized cake in a cute little box.  Do I share?  I grabbed a black Sharpie and wrote “Touch & Die” on the box. 

A friendly warning

Mom taught me manners.  Grumble.  So at 3 pm I invited everyone to the breakroom for cake. 

There were a lot of people gathered in the breakroom around a very tiny cake.  I carefully cut the cake into tiny slivers and handed them out hoping that I’d end up with a piece of my own cake. 

The right knife for the job

Sure enough I did. And there were two small pieces left over for an afternoon snack.

Well, today I was ready for my afternoon snack.  I grabbed the cake box from the fridge and took the box to my office. I felt a little guilty as I looked down at the writing on the box “Touch & Die”.  I hoped people understood it was a friendly exaggeration. 

Hardly a crumb left

I sat down at my desk, opened the box… and it was EMPTY!

My heart sank.  It’s one thing to eat the last piece of cake but it’s even more alarming to leave the empty box in the fridge.  I could suddenly relate to what my dog must feel like when she smells beef grilling out on the patio and she doesn’t get any.

The Dale Carnegie principle I found a way to use in this scenario is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Profit from your losses.

After I got over the shock of my empty box I realized I had a story all lined up for today’s blog.  I profited from my losses by making my missing cake an entertaining story for you to share.

My lesson to you is to find creative ways to make lemonade from the lemons handed to you.  Or like this story shows I figured out how to make lemonade when the lemons were taken away from me.  You’ll find that fussing over trifles or disappointments isn’t worth the energy.  You have what it takes to profit from your losses.

Day 86. In retrospect, my gift was more like a macaroni art project….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 86.  Sunday, June 19, 2011
I was up late on Saturday.  I was frantic because I wasn’t certain I had a sewing needle in the house.  I can’t give an unfinished pillow as a gift with the stuffing falling out….

I painstakingly stitched the pillow closed—hoping no one would notice the imperfections with the crooked stitches.  I wrapped the finished pillow in tissue paper and was actually glad I took the time to make a gift instead of buy a gift card.

The colors for the pillow were chosen for a reason.  They had an Asian flair to them. 

I pride myself in my marketing skills.  But I failed at this task completely.  I presented the gift to the recipient and I think he was either embarrassed, puzzled or didn’t like it.  He thanked me.  I replied, “I made it.”  “Yes, I can see that.”

Some see food, others see art project. It's all about perspective....

In retrospect I should have thought about what is important to this person.  His likes, his preferences, his interests—instead of thinking he’d like a homemade pillow.  I felt dejected—thinking my pillow was the equivalent of a child’s macaroni art project. 

I was at a very important crossroad in my mind.  I decided to take a very sharp turn and create happiness for others instead of dwelling on everything that went wrong with this day. 

I remembered Walter—he’s divorced, his kids are grown and odds are he’s alone today.  I sent him a text message wishing him a Happy Father’s Day.  To my surprise, he immediately texted me back thanking me.

This was balm for my wounds.  So I sent another text—this time to Alejandro.  Alejandro has a stepson.  Every year that he’s been married I have wished him a Happy Father’s Day.  I am the only one in his life that wishes him a Happy Father’s Day.  He too responded back immediately—thanking me and pointing out yet again that I never fail at remembering year after year.

Last, I sent a text to another friend—Mustafa.  He’s divorced and has a little girl.  I’m always touched by his Facebook wall posts about his weekends with his daughter.  You can really see that he loves his daughter.  He also responded immediately.

For my final mental trick—I was leaving my home when I noticed my neighbors were packing their suburban.  The last time I saw my neighbor she was pregnant.  (You might remember the “Ode to the Rotting Fish story”)   Well, she has since had her baby—and I could see the baby seat in the car.  I rolled down my window and smiled.  Then I got out of my car and excitedly went to see the new baby.  I wished her husband a Happy Father’s Day. 

I’d like to say this day was a piece of cake.  I’d like to say that it’s easy to implement the Dale Carnegie principles every single day.  Some days are a real challenge.  However, through the entire process I was aware I had the tools I needed to get through the day.  I also have black and white proof—85 days to be exact—of implementing the principles. 

It is true I should have been more aware of the person’s interests when choosing a gift—and perhaps I could have marketed the homemade pillow better—pointing out the features and why it should be of interest or value. 

 On the bright side—as the day unfolded not as I planned—I knew I had potential for a good blog.  It was just up to me to figure out how to make lemonade from this day.  I knew I had to choose to make lemonade otherwise I’d have an unhappy day.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.
Profit from your losses.
Keep busy.

From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 17.  Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

I hope you find value to this story for the right reasons.  My main objective in sharing it is not for sympathy.  Understand that people are who they are—and they don’t always realize the effects of their actions.  I’m among those people more often than not.  Knowing what disappointment feels like—I realize the need to be more appreciative of others for what they do for me.  Remember this the next time you are met with disappointment and learn to change your own behavior before pointing the blame at everyone else. The only person you can change is yourself and how you deal with situations. 

Incidentally, I made two more heart pillows today for no other reason than to keep my mind busy for my own sake.  And let me tell you…. they are stunning.  I might have to go into the pillow business if my lemonade stand doesn’t last. 

Housekeeping / Notes

  • Coming soon!  Two guest blog posts!  Two of my favorite gentlemen have stepped up to the challenge.  More information coming soon.
  • Don’t forget—mi casa es su casa (my home is your home).  There is always room for a guest blogger at the Smiling Daffodil’s blog home.  All are welcome.  You don’t even need skills at writing.  Click for more information.
  • It was a busy weekend.  In case you missed a post, click on the Pictorial/Archive section. Thank you for reading my blog. 

Day 84. I make lemonade for a living….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 84.  Friday, June 17, 2011
It was noon and I had enough of the day.  I turned off my computer and I left the building.

I decided to take a lunch.  I never take lunches.  I have a light “snack” at Starbucks everyday instead of a lunch.  But today was not an ordinary day.  I had to get out of the building for a change of scenery.

I ended up at Wendy’s.  I stood in line for a minute and determined it wasn’t worth the wait in line.  I returned to my car and sat there a few moments and prayed.

“Dear God.  I need a place to eat.  I don’t want to eat but I need a change of perspective.  I’m trying to make lemonade out of this ridiculously horrible day.”

That’s when it hit me.  McDonald’s has a new strawberry lemonade.  Although I hate everything that has lemon flavor I do happen to like this drink.  Besides, what a great pun!

As I drove to McDonald’s I gave myself a pep talk. 

Smiling Daffodil’s Pep Talk:  “I determine my own happiness.  I manufacture genuine happiness each and every day.  I will not let people’s thoughtless behaviors or unreasonable demands affect the outcome of my day.  I will profit from my losses.  I will expect ingratitude.  I will figure out how to use their carelessness towards me to my advantage.  I have succeeded at this for 83 days.  Today will be no different.  People are who they are and they will not change.  All I can do to cope with this is to change myself and how I react to people.” 

I arrived at McDonald’s full of hope and an open mind.  I was determined to find something positive at McDonald’s to change my outlook on the day.  There were a lot of families with their children and the children were quite… rambunctious.  I found this distracting and entertaining. 

Atypical lunch for the Smiling Daffodil

I ate my meal and lived in the moment trying to think of Dale Carnegie principles that would help me deal with my frustrations from the silly people I work with.  I even sent an SOS for prayers from a friend.  I don’t like to do that often… but today was one of those days.

I don’t know how it happened.  Was it the strawberry lemonade?  Perhaps the homemade lemon decorations all over the restaurant? 

Somehow the lemon decorations were endearing to this weathered daffodil...

Maybe it was the friendly manager that apologized for the noise of all the children. 

Maybe it was my resolve to turn this day into a good blog.  Or it was the prayers on my behalf that were kicking in.    

I have no idea what caused the change of perspective.  But I found myself calm.  I was able to reflect on the day and I resolved to stay focused and do my best to get through it. 

You see—I had two projects that had to get finished TODAY.  I can’t go home / go to sleep / have my weekend / etc until these two tasks are done.  No exceptions.  Normally I just have one of these projects on Fridays.  But today was special.  I had two disastrous, stressful projects to complete. 

And to top it off—management had TONS of changes to one of the projects.  I did my best to smile as they gave me their changes.  But it was very hard.  I felt so helpless trying to figure out how I could spin time out of straw.  My eyes betrayed me again—but this time I knew my best bet was to remove myself from the building, take a deep breath and figure out how to solve the extreme workload. 

I returned and the work was still there waiting for me.  It was a big heap of chaos on my desk.  I decided to delegate what I could and I slowly chipped away at all the details.

Surprisingly, I got my work complete in a calm, professional manner.  I gave appreciation where it was due.  Without my assistant I would not have been able to complete one of the projects without staying very late. 

There’s an assortment of Dale Carnegie principles I used today.  From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Pray.
Try to profit from your losses.
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries.
Cooperate with the inevitable.

I knew there was no point in arguing or complaining about the absurd workload today.  I accepted the inevitable that I would have to work a very long, tedious and mentally draining day.  I reminded myself this is not the first time this has happened.  I have a successful track record of getting tedious projects finished.  I was also aware of my own impatience with absurd people—so I prayed and asked a friend for backup prayers.  In the end—everything worked out as things usually do. 

This is a long story but I hope it has value to you.  When you find yourself surrounded by very absurd people or circumstances and what’s worse—you’re the only one that can recognize the absurdity—these are the days that you really appreciate the value of living the Dale Carnegie principles.  These principles are not pie in the sky or overly optimistic and nauseating statements.  I have tested them.  They are real and they work.

Housekeeping / Notes:
If you missed a blog post or two this week, you are welcome to click on over to the Pictorial archive section.

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.