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.
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:
- Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?” Prepare to accept the worst. Try to improve on the worst.
- Once a decision is reached, act!
- 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.