Day 50. You might not agree with the decision…but it was the right choice for my sanity.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 50.  Saturday, May 14, 2011
I discovered an unusual house guest about a year ago.  I thought he’d be the perfect addition to the garage.  We got along well—he was pretty low key—I barely saw him around.  I called him “George”. 

But a week ago, I noticed “George” was really making himself at home.  There was “Georgette” and “Georgene” –an entire family… of geckos.  All three of them were looking at me as I reversed the car from the garage.

I was fine with one gecko. Not a family.  And when I saw one gecko coming out of the wall in the garage… well, that was the last straw.  I imagined ending up on an episode of Animal Hoarders—where homeowners are overrun by pets, pests and other critters—and their homes end up condemned by the city.  “Oh, the homeowner’s association won’t like this,” I thought to myself. 

I had a particularly difficult time sleeping that night wondering if I’d wake up covered in geckos.  (Yes, I do have a vivid imagination.)  I did my best to apply Dale Carnegie’s principles for dealing with worry. 

I gave the geckos an ultimatum—either move out by Saturday or die. 

Well—today is Saturday.  I found all sorts of other activities to do instead of clean the garage and “deal with the gecko situation.”  As I walked through the garage I spotted one of the critters crawling about.  I decided to embrace Dale Carnegie’s principle:  “once a decision is reached, act”.   

And thus began the War on Geckos.

It was relatively easy to “deal” with the gecko I found… although if you ask the neighbors they may report a very loud scream….which could have easily been mistaken for a battle cry.

Gecko Eggs

I carefully removed a pile of bricks where I suspected the rest of the family might be living.  That’s when I spotted a pile of eggs.  I moved more bricks.  More eggs.

I swept everything up and am happy to report order is restored.  I followed up by doing a simple Google search on these critters.  Apparently—people breed them—and many people do consider them welcomed guests because they eat other insects that lurk in a garage.  But I am of the opinion that too much of a good thing is not a good thing.  There must be balance.

If you missed it—the Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Once a decision is reached, act!

I made the decision to clean the garage on Saturday and I knew I must follow through.  Once I began the process I not only took pride in seeing the clean garage but also in knowing I followed through on a decision I made on Monday. 

And just to clarify—these things were not living in my house—just the garage.  Whew!

So remember, it’s great to decide to do something.  It’s even better when you follow through with action.  When you take this approach you’ll be amazed by the sense of accomplishment you feel.  And moving forward you’ll approach the next decision and act on it with even more confidence because you’ve had success in the past.  The decision doesn’t have to be earth shattering—it can be as simple as cleaning a garage. 

Housekeeping / Notes
I got off on my number of days on my blog somehow and realized that today is an important day.  I reached the big 50!  Thank you everyone for your support in helping me reach Day 50 of my 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie principles.  I meant to celebrate with a Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino– but would you believe– the geckos distracted me.

On a fun note– to help celebrate the big  “FIVE-O” I created a special page on the blog that shows a pictorial view of each blog entry– I call the page:  Attn. Non-readers.   Sometimes eye-candy is more fun than reading.  On the other hand… you might discover something might just be worth a click.

Day 11. A fork in the road

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 11.  April 5, 2011
 I was at work with some associates when a discussion arose regarding another employee—named ‘McKinley Jones’.  The discussion was whether McKinley would be the appropriate person to take on a new responsibility at work. 

Now, before I took the Dale Carnegie course, I would have said something like this:
McKinley does a good job BUT…. McKinley doesn’t tend to come up with new ideas… if you remember, McKinley had a difficult time completing the last task… etc etc….

But now that I’m a Dale Carnegie graduate, I responded to my associates with these words:
It’s been my experience and I’m sure you’ll agree that McKinley is very good at following through on specific goals.  I think McKinley is up to the challenge of this new responsibility and will do well.  I am certain that if we clearly define the goals and tasks we expect McKinley to accomplish we will not be disappointed.

Now, to be clear—the second response did require some mental acrobatics on my part.  I had to take a deep breath and think hard about my decision.  I reached that fork in the road—where I could take the easy route of criticizing, condemning and complaining about an individual—or I could try a new, unworn path of finding the positive in an individual.  I chose the unworn path.    

Take a deep breath as you approach the fork in the road. Choose not to criticize, condemn or complain.

The effect—I did not damage the perception of McKinley Jones – I pointed out the positive attributes that McKinley contributes to the company.  Odds are high that when people think of McKinley they will think—that person is goal oriented.  Give McKinley a task and it gets done.  Period.

Imagine what the perception would be if I took the negative route to describe McKinley.  People would walk away thinking, gosh, you can’t rely on McKinley to come up with ideas.  Why is McKinley still here—or I sure hope I don’t get assigned to a project with McKinley.  This perception would not only affect the office but it would affect McKinley in a negative way.  McKinley would live down to the expectations. 

The principle I used today (and was really proud of this huge accomplishment) is from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 1.  Do not criticize, condemn or complain.

So remember, your words are powerful.  They can affect the perception that people have of another person.  Choose your words carefully and avoid criticizing, condemning or complaining about an individual. Focus on the positive characteristics of a person and that person will live up to the perception and expectations you have set forth.  You will also demonstrate a higher level of maturity and discipline.

Day 6. How Dale Carnegie helped me to ice skate


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 6.  March 31, 2011 
Preface:  Thank you for reading my blog about living the Dale Carnegie principles.

Today was an important day in my world—it was Session 3 of my ice skating lessons.  I was certain this day would be the perfect application of the principles for overcoming worry from Dale Carnegie. 

During last week’s skating experience I crashed on the ice so hard I passed out.  So today I was facing my enemy head on.  The enemy was fear.  I really thought I had a good handle on the fear until I put the skates on and was staring at the ice rink in front of me. 

I wore my gym watch to monitor my heart rate—and was pretty surprised to see my heart racing at 145 beats just standing by the skating rink.

Suffice it to say, I clung to my trainer for the entire hour.  Is there a word stronger than terrified? 

I tried to relax by taking deep breaths. 

I remembered my instructor Frank Starkey, from the Dale Carnegie course, explaining in the first session that as we progress through each of the Dale Carnegie classes our confidence will increase.  Being able to reference past successes in class will give us confidence to push ourselves to new challenges in the course and in life. 

I grinned remembering my achievements in the Dale Carnegie course. 

Despite my efforts to relax and think all these points through my limbs just weren’t loosening up.  Picture a stiff board on ice skates.   It was a very long hour. 

I was relieved the session was up—yet I was disappointed by my terror.  I thanked my trainer and said I was going to go back on the ice and try to tackle my fear.  I must do it.  And she said, “you will do it.”

She said the magic words: “you will do it”. 

You know that scene in the Gladiator, where Maximus is entering the Roman Colosseum, ready to face the battle?  That’s me.  Except picture someone 5’ 4”, a small frame, walking clumsily in ice skates up the stairs to enter the ice rink for Round 2. 

Gladiator, ice skater or just a person trying to exercise the Dale Carnegie principles?

There was just one little girl on the ice—probably 8 years old. She asked—“is this your first time?”  I explained my situation and that I had come to conquer my fear.  She said, “you can do it!”

Armed with confidence that my trainer and a random 8 year old girl had in me— I stepped onto the ice.  Terrified but determined.  I will not go home until I do this.  Period.

I reflected on my past success on the ice.  Last week I skated on my own for two hours with success.  Sure, I fell 4 times.  But I got up each time.  And although I did pass out—I lived to tell the story.  The bruises and scabs are badges of honor.  Free souvenirs. 

It took great mental effort but I was able skate—and I skated for two hours on my own.  The big stupid grin on my face summed it up.  I gave the little 8 year old girl a thumbs up as we crossed paths on the ice.  She shared the pleasure of my accomplishment.  And I grinned happily at her. 

There are multiple principles I applied (or tried to!) in this scenario:

From Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:

  1. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”  Prepare to accept the worst.  Try to improve on the worst. 
  2. Once a decision is reached, act!
  3. Cooperate with the inevitable.

 This evening wasn’t about how well I skated—I was still very clumsy—but the point was—I didn’t back down from my fear and I accepted the possibility that I could fall again.  The rewards—a big stupid grin, a very amusing show for the bystanders at the rink and I get the pleasure of knowing I did not back down. 

Let’s be practical—it’s hard to face fears in whatever form they come in.  But if you can practice the mental attitude of “I can and will do this, now”— then you will succeed.  And when you do this—you are able to manage worry and focus on achieving your goals—no matter how big or small.  Every accomplishment is worth being proud of and celebrating.