Day 115. I planned on making lemonade out of my disappointment.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 115.  Tuesday, July 19, 2011
This morning I woke up and prayed:  “Lord, I can see myself putting the Dale Carnegie books far out of reach and battling it out today.  Please help me.”

As I drove I did everything I could to convince myself that today’s meeting was not worth fighting over. I remembered Abraham Lincoln’s words—‘Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.’

I chewed on the fact that they have not had the luxury of taking a Dale Carnegie course.  I can’t blame them if they don’t behave the way I want them to.  I have taken the course and with that comes responsibility.  I cannot bring disgrace to Dale Carnegie graduates or the organization.  I must behave.  I must remain calm under pressure. 

I touched my necklace around my neck with tiny fish dangling from it.  I wear the fish necklace to remind me of my first blog—the day I found a rotting fish on my lawn. 

I profited from my losses and made four new friends clear across the planet.

I amused myself that I profited from my losses that day.  When life handed me lemons I made lemonade (or rather, life handed me a stinky, rotting fish and I made a blog).

I amused myself that this past weekend I fearlessly cleaned up a water heater closet that was full of gecko poop and I discovered I’m stronger than I think.

I don’t how these thoughts clicked in my head.  I guess I figured if I could do those things I can handle this meeting. I resolved to be as professional, kind and accommodating as I could in today’s meeting.  I would be sure that my eyes would not betray me.  I will not shut down when they criticize and complain.  I will expect ingratitude.  I prepared for the absolute worst.

The meeting happened at the end of the day.    

The meeting did not go as planned.  The individuals in the meeting were quite pleased and more importantly—they were appreciative of the work I did.  They indicated my work exceeded their expectations. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this scenario are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Pray.
Expect ingratitude.
Do the very best you can.
How to face trouble:
A.  Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
B.  Prepare to accept the worst.
C.  Try to improve on the worst.

To be clear—I’ve been waiting for this day for almost a year.  My workout at the gym last night was very intense.  I did everything I could to mentally and physically prepare myself for today’s carelessness and ingratitude.  I resolved that my best meant I had to be accommodating, patient and open-minded no matter what was thrown at me.  I put my heart and being into a project and I fully expected and prepared to get trampled on.  Instead I received a thank you. 

The lesson I hope you take from this story—the only person you can change is yourself.  Don’t expect others around you to change.  Don’t blame them for not changing.  Instead, figure out how you can adapt yourself to deal with the challenging people and circumstances around you.  Figure out how you can profit from your losses.  In my case—as I walked into the office I was fully prepared to leave at the end of the day with a story of how I made lemonade from the lemon of ingratitude I was handed. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised, grateful and relieved.  And yes, I celebrated by having dinner at my favorite Chick-fil-A

Housekeeping / Notes:
Thank you for reading my blog. 

Day 101. I decided to grab the bull by the horns—I accepted responsibility and I lived in a day-tight compartment


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 101.  Tuesday, July 5, 2011
It was midnight and I was on a stairmaster at the gym.  I was wrapping up a workout while reflecting on how great Monday was.

That’s when it hit me.  I forgot to launch a marketing campaign on Monday!  It’s officially 12:01—Tuesday morning.  ARGH. I press the emergency stop button on the stairmaster and almost didn’t clean up the equipment…

I raced out of the gym and hurried home.  I decided to fall on my sword immediately and let the appropriate parties know I messed up. 

By the time I launched the campaign it was 12:35 am.  Technically— I was 35 minutes late— which isn’t too heinous. Besides Monday was the 4th of July. Most people are far away from being reached by my marketing campaigns.

I tried to console myself with reason but I was so disappointed with myself.  In the history of these campaigns I’ve never forgotten to launch one. 

I knew in my heart that it wasn’t life and death.  It would be ok.  The campaign wasn’t date sensitive.  I didn’t cause physical or mental harm to anyone.  This is a marketing campaign. 

I went to bed calm and without worry.

When I woke up I immediately thought of the marketing campaign.  I did my best to accept whatever consequences that would come my way.  I reminded myself that the affected individuals are reasonable human beings—and again, the delay of the campaign by one day might actually help in the long run. 

I got to work and no one complained. In fact, my associate said it was no big deal.  It was a non-issue.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this scenario are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Live in “day-tight compartments.”
How to face trouble:
a.      Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
b.      Prepare to accept the worst.
c.      Try to improve on the worst. 

How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 12.  If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically. 

By day 101 of this blog, I am starting to catch on to the reality that it’s not worth worrying about circumstances I cannot change.  When I realized I messed up I decided to grab the bull by the horns—I accepted responsibility.  I also considered the matter—and was able to look at the big picture—this matter was a bigger problem in my mind than in reality.  Given this conclusion I decided to live in a day-tight compartment and do my best not to give this matter any more worry.  I saved myself a lot of grief!

This is why living in day-tight compartment is worth it. You don’t waste valuable time worrying about trivial matters.  You can focus on moving forward and growing as a person rather than stunting your growth by fixating on a mistake.

Day 96. Is your day on the fast track to crummy? Try this approach….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 96.  Thursday, June 30, 2011

My dear phone, don't go towards the light. Come back...

I woke up to the unexpected sound of the alarm clock on my iPhone.  I thought my iPhone was broken.  I quickly examined the phone.  Nope.  It’s still broken by my estimation. 

I did my best not to worry about the phone.  Besides… I have better things to panic about….

I had a photo shoot today across town—and as usual I was running late.  For the first time in my career I actually designed two garments for this photo shoot.  We have the perfect model to wear my creations.  She arrives at the studio in a half hour.  And to make matters worse, the garments are wrinkled and they are with me instead of at the studio. 

Traffic was a mess.  The exit I needed was closed so I had to take a detour on the highway.  I kept telling myself—“live in day-tight compartments.  If I’m late—I’m late.  It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.” 

I decided if I arrive too late the garments can be photographed at the next photo shoot.  No one is expecting these two garments anyway. 

I then calmed myself down by belting out my favorite song on my iPod.  I’m not a good singer but like everything I approach it with enthusiasm.  Suddenly traffic didn’t seem so bad.  And I was making ridiculously good time considering my destination was 40 miles away. 

“Please God, get me there soon”, I prayed.  “Please get me there by 9:15.”

Despite two detours I arrived at precisely 9:15 am.  I was 15 minutes late.  But I was pleased that I made my goal.  “Thank you God.  15 minutes is late but not horribly late.”

I walked into the studio with my two garments.  I prepared for the worst in terms of my peers’ reactions to the garments. I honestly had no idea if the garments were attractive. I made them—so I wasn’t a good judge.  I reminded myself that I did my best—but I might be better off at designing pillows.

I was greeted by everyone at the studio.  It turns out they were just getting started.  I wasn’t late.

I started apologizing for my feeble attempt at designing garments and suggested we not photograph them.  Their reaction was nothing but praise and encouragement.  They actually liked the garments. 

I quickly steamed the garments and our model tried them on.  I was stunned.  I made that?  And it actually looks decent?

I was talking to my associate between set changes—explaining to him that my iPhone was either dead or in limbo.  He asked me to show him the phone.

I pulled it out of my purse. 

“Turn it on”, he said.

I replied, “ok, but you’ll see that the Apple logo just stays on—it won’t get past that point.  And if it does it will advise I run the recovery mode.  I don’t want to lose all my photos….”

Some people post their children, their pets, scenic vacation destinations. I post my feet as wallpaper on my iPhone.

As I’m explaining all of this I glanced down and saw the prompt to enter my passcode.  I noticed my favorite screensaver was also displayed.

I nearly hugged my associate.  “It’s alive!”

Not only did I arrive at the studio before the photo shoot started, my garments were not only appreciated—they looked good on the model—and my iPhone “Lazarus” had come back from the dead.  Can life get any better?

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable. 
Count your blessings—not your troubles.
How to face trouble:
            A.  Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
            B.  Prepare to accept the worst.
            C.  Try to improve on the worst.

I absolutely prepared for the worst today.  I knew it would be impossible for me to arrive on time to the studio.  I was also aware that my phone may very well be dead.  And I was bracing myself to have my two garments criticized by my peers.  Once I prepared for the worst—it was easy to move forward.  Imagine my excitement when the worst did not happen. 

Today was a GREAT day and I suspect it had everything to do with my outlook.  There was a ridiculous amount of work today and plenty of silly emails to review and countless details I did not consider important enough to share in this blog because none of these details affected me.  My day was GREAT no matter what. 

My lesson to you—sometimes there are unavoidable circumstances—like traffic jams, being late, etc.  It’s at this point you should take a deep breath and just accept the inevitable.  You can’t pull out a magic wand and zap the problem away.  And worrying and stressing over the problem won’t solve it.  Instead find ways to minimize the problem—and look for the positive.

In my case I celebrated being only 15 minutes late. There was a time not long ago I’d be irritated for being late at all.   Once a few positive things started happening to me today you’d think I won the lottory.  After that—the rest of the day was a breeze to deal with. 

When you take this approach—you’ll be able to reflect on the day’s events and how you handled them with a sense of accomplishment.  Control your outlook and you’re more likely to end the day on a positive note. 

Housekeeping /Notes:
You’re invited to read this week’s guest blog post by Tyrone.  He turned an ordinary visit to the library into an opportunity to use the Dale Carnegie principles.  Click here to read.

Day 31. Dale Carnegie’s principles gave me courage to save Lassie’s relative. Part 1


Lassie's relative: Francis the Easter Dog

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 31.  April 25, 2011
It was 11 pm on Sunday.  The Easter festivities from the day were over.  I was going to pick up my workout clothes at home and head to the gym.  (I spent entire day trying to figure out how I could do two workouts in one day since I skipped my Saturday run at the gym).  So much for living in day-tight compartments.

There had been a severe storm with heavy winds and hail that evening.  It cleared up but it was still very wet outside.  As I reached the end of a street and stopped at the stop sign—I noticed a dog.  It was circling a parked car.  I looked around to see if there was an owner but the dog was by itself. 

I parked my car at the stop sign and got out of the car.  The dog came up to me immediately.  I was a bit scared… is it a dog… is it a coyote… after composing myself I confirmed it was the same type of dog from the old TV program— “Lassie”.  Ha! Certainly not a wild, fierce animal. 

It started circling my car.  The poor thing was scared.  I started talking to it—“where are your parents?  Do you know where you live?  What’s your name?”

Since it was a dog—clearly it couldn’t answer.  But it sure was friendly—it came up to me—and at one point I bravely stroked its fur.  I wasn’t sure what to do with the dog.  I couldn’t leave it alone.  But it’s 11 pm.  The neighborhood is asleep.

I said a prayer, “please God I don’t know what to do.  I am afraid of big dogs—and there’s no way I’m going to pick it up.”

I decided to open the back passenger door of my car.  If it’s meant that I get involved—the dog will enter the car without coaxing. 

 Well, the dog hopped right into my car. 

I closed the door, walked around to the driver’s side and entered my precious car that now has a wet dog inside.  I prayed the dog wasn’t waiting to bite me as I sat down.

Well, it sat there in the back seat, waiting for me to drive.  So I did.  I carried on a lengthy conversation with it as I drove.  I did this mainly to keep my nerves down as I figured out what I was supposed to do with a wet dog at 11 pm on Easter Sunday.  I was worried the dog was waiting for the right moment to jump on top of me and bite me or perhaps have an accident all over the interior of my car.  But it didn’t.  It just sat there. 

I headed into another city nearby—where there’s an animal hospital that is open all night.  I’m telling the dog about my own dog and some other dogs I know—and about the friendly animal hospital we are visiting.  I assure the dog we will find his parents. 

 As I pull into the animal hospital I explain to the dog that I will be right back.  I head into the hospital and open with:  “I may have lost my mind…. I never do things like this… I was driving home… there was a bad storm… and there was a lost dog… I couldn’t leave it….”

They assured me I did the right thing.  They gave me a leash and I returned to the car where the dog is waiting.  The dog is scared.  I am scared.  I try to get the leash on—but the dog decided to move to the driver’s seat.  I head to the front passenger’s seat—but am still scared of putting the leash around its neck.  I’m also scared of getting bitten. And I’m scared of fleas and ticks.  And what if it growls at me. 

I decide to embrace the inevitable.  I must get the dog out of my car with or without getting attacked.  I decided to talk to the dog who is still sitting nervously in the driver’s seat of my car.  With blind faith I picked him up.  I carried the shivering, wet dog inside the animal hospital—still talking to it assuring him it will be ok.  Oddly, between the dog and me—I think I was the braver, calmer one. 

I set him down and the vet gave him a dry towel.  It turned out the dog didn’t have a collar but he had a microchip embedded in him.  The vet explained that it will take at least a day for the microchip center to research the owner—and hopefully the microchip has current information. 

I gave the hospital all my contact information and they assured me they will do their best to find his owners.  The dog kept looking at me—as if we had bonded—I felt so sad leaving him there.  But the vet was very attentive and loving toward the dog.  He was in good hands.  They even mentioned they might take him home for the night.  I took several photos of the dog and assured him I would find his owners. 

By this time it’s midnight.  I realize that the gym is out of the question.  I decided that in the grand scheme of things—missing the gym for a second day in a row is not the end of the world.  And for this dog’s sake and the dog owners’ sake it was a necessary sacrifice. 

Sometimes events out of the norm give the right dose of perspective on what’s important.  I spent the entire day devising creative ways I could get two gym workout sessions done on Easter Sunday—of all days.  Despite all the planning and worrying—a new opportunity unfolded—as if to test my flexibility and to remind me to live in the moment and do what needs to be done.

 The Dale Carnegie principles I used:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
– How to face trouble:  
     *
As yourself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen?”
     *
Prepare to accept the worst.
     *
Try to improve on the worst.

– Cooperate with the inevitable.
Pray. 

The Dale Carnegie principle that is a work in progress for me:
– Live in ‘day-tight compartments.’

This story is to be continued…

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.