365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles
Day 36. April 30, 2011
As I was driving this morning I was listening to the theme song from the “Rocky” movie. I was feeling confident. I was wearing my favorite running ensemble—black shorts, black shirt, black hair band. I not only looked good. I was ready to rumble. Not that this was a boxing match. It was a 5K run.
They sounded the buzzer and we were off and running. I kept a steady pace—I didn’t want to burn out in the first half of the race. I turned on my iPod and pretended I was at the gym running on my favorite treadmill. I pretended so well, I got some runners turning around looking at me and smiling.
You see—I sing when I run on the treadmill. I don’t sing because I sing well. I sing because it gives me something to focus on. Lyrics in songs fuel my engine for running. Not slow, sappy songs—we’re not strolling in the park. I like songs with energy, gusto and passion—and if there’s some angst thrown in—that’s a bonus because that makes me run faster.
To help me run I planned on focusing on a distinct bad day from last year. I take particular delight in making lemonade out of rotten days. But today was different. I had a smile on my face as I ran and sang. My fingers danced in the wind. I pretended I was wearing a Superman cape and I was flying like the wind.
There were bystanders along the way cheering us on. They were holding signs and banners—with words of encouragement like “Keep going!” I smiled and gave everyone a thumbs as I passed by. Not sure how—but the encouragement of random strangers fueled me to continue.
I decided I’d be a smiling, running ambassador for Dale Carnegie’s principle number 5 as I passed everyone by.
The run is basically a circle—you end where you began. When I was more than halfway through the race I crossed paths with a LONG line of people who were walking the race. I was heading back as they were still progressing through the race. I wasn’t sure how it was technically possible that they were that far behind. I imagined what they were thinking—geesh—there are people that are almost finished?
I did my best to make eye contact with them as I smiled and gave them a thumbs up.
As I neared the end, there was a couple—an older man and woman who were the very last ones in the race. They were walking slowly. The man was a bit overweight.
I looked at them and said—“You can do it!” as I ran by them.
I can put food away!
Now, you have to understand that at this point in the race—yesterday’s very large taco dinner was still settling in my stomach. I wasn’t feeling my best. But somehow focusing on other racers and the bystanders gave me strength to continue. I kept telling myself—I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve done this before—I will do this again. Period.
When I could see the finish line—I went full speed. I pretended I was stepping on a gas pedal in a car—I ran like I meant it. As I did this I remembered what my friend Esteban-the-Gym-Rat told me the evening before: “remember, they take your picture as you cross the finish line—so you want to finish big—with a smile and your game face. Some people cross the finish line—crying and vomiting—that’s not the photo you want hanging over the mantle in your living room.”
A winning smile.
I crossed the finish line with a beaming smile.
The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5. Smile.
Principle 22. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.
I focused my attention on other people as I ran. I showed my appreciation for the bystanders who were cheering us on. I encouraged other participants in the race as I passed them by. When I did this—I was distracted from my own concerns of – will I finish this race? Will I come in under 30 minutes? Will my foot start hurting? And is my stomach going to explode from that very extensive taco dinner I had last night?
So, remember, there’s a real benefit to creating happiness for others—your words and actions can affect them in a positive way at just the right time and you are able to distract yourself from your own troubles. Everyone wins!
Special thanks to “Esteban-the-Gym-Rat” for his coaching advice—including tips on focusing on the horizon, proper ways to tie the shoe laces and the importance of hydration. You made me feel like an “official athlete”—I felt important.
Thanks to my friend “Jewel” who reminded me a week ago I could take some time off from the gym to prepare for the big race without my gym routine crashing into disgraceful oblivion.
Thank you “Dr. House” my gym trainer who knows just the right things to say that click in my head—like—“Gym Rat, of course you’ll be ready for the run two months away.”
Thank you to my buddy “Bell” who despite living clear across the planet—convinced me to go to bed early so that I’d be well rested for the race. Sometimes the obvious isn’t always so!
Be sure to read Friday’s blog post—the photo will bring you a smile.
Don’t forget about the open invitation to be a contributing writer to this 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie principles blog. You will approach life with an improved perspective. What a deal!