Day 46. Trying to reform my ways as the poster child for negativity


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 46.  Tuesday, May 10, 2011
During the drive to work this morning my thoughts were quickly spiraling down into an unhappy place.   

Gas prices were irritating me.  The long commute was irritating me.  The laundry list of tasks at work was irritating me.  Sure I have made lemonade from the Dale Carnegie course I was required to take.  Yes I’m having ridiculous fun with my blog.  But what’s the point?

To combat this negative train of thought I said a short desperate prayer—“please God help me.” 

I continued on my drive to work.

At a stoplight I checked my Facebook.  A friend posted a comment about losing someone to cancer. 

My thoughts then turned to one of my customers—“Laura”.  This customer lost her husband to cancer about 3 weeks ago.  I began to chew on that thought.  I remembered how I took a chance and emailed her that I would remember her in my prayers.  (I don’t really know this customer on a personal level).  I remembered her reaction—she was so grateful—and asked that I keep her kids “Lindsey” and “Charles” in my prayers too. 

As I continued to drive I thought about Father’s Day and how that day will be especially hard for them.  I considered what I could send to help honor their father on a day that is normally a happy time but for them will be a grievous time. 

Perspective

I considered the fact that they would gladly deal with the challenges of rising gas prices, long commutes, working miserably long hours at a thankless job—in exchange for having their husband—their father back. 

 Hmm… guess this day isn’t that bad after all. 

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings—not your troubles.

I’m the best example of pessimism, complaints and various other negative traits.  But as I hope I’ve demonstrated—even I can change my thought process and my outlook on the day and on life in general. 

When you take the time to count your blessings your perspective improves.    Irritations and hassles won’t drag you down as you focus on the positive in your life.

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.

Day 42. I forgot my most prized possession in Michigan but Dale Carnegie helped me avoid crying over spilt milk


phbbbt!

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 42.  Friday, May 6, 2011
I considered rewriting or substituting this entry but have decided to use Dale Carnegie’s principles from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.  The principle used in this entry is the series of questions highlighted below.  (Don’t worry this entry is unconventional but it will make sense when you read on)

 

 

Write out and answer the following questions:
A.    What is (are) the problem(s)?  I was careless and forgot my new laptop at my friend’s home in Michigan today and I am now inTexas.  My laptop has my blog entries from Friday and Saturday.  I was unable to post the entries over the weekend because I didn’t have Internet access. 

B.     What are the causes of the problem(s)?  I was so distracted by the happiness and awe of holding my first godchild today that I forgot to pack my laptop for my flight home. 

C.    What are the possible solutions? 
1.  I will focus on the joy of holding a baby instead of the carelessness of forgetting my laptop.
2.  I will have my friend mail my laptop on Monday. 
3.  My memory is good—I will simply rewrite the blogs from Friday and Saturday and post on Sunday night.
4.  I will write entirely new blogs for Friday and Saturday and post on Sunday.  I will reserve the original blogs for the Breadcrumbs and Doggie Bags section.
5.  I will find a way to make lemonade.

D.    What is the best possible solution(s)?
1.  I reflected on the wonderful feeling of holding a tiny baby.  There’s nothing quite like it!
2.  My friend will mail my laptop.  I have an old laptop at home that still works quite well.  I can use it in the meantime.
4.  I will write entirely new blogs for Friday and Saturday.  There’s no use in producing the same work twice.  I worked hard on the original entries when I typed them on Friday and Saturday night.  Besides, I like to write and I’m sure I can remember other material I can write about.
5.  I will not make lemonade.  I will make lemon meringue pie, lemon tarts, and lemon poppy seed bread.  Granted, it took quite a bit of effort to embrace reality but I eventually arrived at the conclusion that there was no use crying over spilt milk and it’s best to just move forward.

Remember, when you encounter disappointment or problem it may take effort, creativity and a little ingenuity but you can indeed get past the emotions, analyze the problem and come up with a better outlook and a solution to the problem.

Day 39. Wait a minute… wasn’t Monday Nag-Day? See how living in day-tight compartments really does work


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 39.  May 3, 2011
As I wrote in the  May 2nd blog post—my workday was full of irritating emails and silly people.  (See also the New Monday: Nag-Day) After work I went to the gym and did my usual workout routine.  I saw my buddy Esteban-the-Gym-Rat who is always a great storyteller weaving humor or lessons into his many tales. 

When I returned home from the gym I was tired but not exhausted and my mood was pleasant.  As I prepared for bed I prayed, “thank you for a great day God.”

Then I paused and chuckled… “wait a minute God.  I forgot I had a rough day—it was full of nagging people and email requests.” 

Somehow I managed to live in day-tight compartments and was able to sincerely thank God for a great day.  I was not the least bit worried about the mountain of work I had to get done or the additional nagging emails waiting for me on Tuesday.

The Dale Carnegie principle I lived in this story is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Live in “day-tight” compartments.

I know firsthand it’s a challenge not to let foolish people and frustrating circumstances get the best of you by invading your thoughts and energy long after the day is done.  But when you live in “day-tight” compartments—you will be able to put those irritations aside and enjoy the present moment.  I found happiness by exercising at the gym and talking to a friend.  By the time my day was done—all I had to dwell upon were the good moments in the day. The irritations seemed trivial and far, far away. 

Put irritations in a box on a shelf in your mind. (Or as this photo shows, an empty freezer)

Remember, put the frustrations of the day in a box on a shelf in your mind.  Find pleasure in the present moment.  When you do this you will end your day on a positive note.

Housekeeping/Notes:
Mark your calendars!  Wednesday is the debut of the first guest blogger! 
Read about how you can become an official guest blogger.

Day 36: How Dale Carnegie made today’s 5K run more interesting.


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!

Housekeeping/Reminders:
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!

Day 33. Part 2. Use Dale Carnegie Principles to recover from feeling like an idiot.


Despite my best efforts sometimes I can sleep through just about anything

As I mentioned in the Day 33 blog entry, I woke up late. I woke up so late—I nearly slept half the day away.  I got up at 11:40 am.  (Despite two alarm clocks and two text messages)

I was disgusted with myself.  This is not the first time I’ve done this. It’s not that I get in trouble at work.  Everyone finds it funny.  I guess people like to see flaws.  The perception of me is that I’m a hard worker—a workaholic. 

I made it to the office at 12:32.  I was frantic but glad to have made it in.

After realizing my lunch plans were cancelled with my friend I sat down at my desk. I realized it was lunch time.  I’m late for my Starbucks visit for my Java Chip Frappuccino.

I quietly snuck out of the office—I felt like such a loser.  Here I am—I slept half the day away, I waltz into the office super late—and then after a few minutes of being at the office I leave to get my Java Chip Frappuccino.  Talk about shame and guilt.

I left anyway because I know there’s no use in fighting it.  My routine is important.  I will be thinking of my Starbucks Frappuccino all day. 

I return to the office—Frappuccino in hand and feeling much better.  I ease into the day with enthusiasm.  Yes, I was super late.  But now I will recover with style—with enthusiasm.  I whizzed through several projects I had to work on.  I tackled some editing with gusto.  I whistled while I worked.  There was a general feeling of happiness coming from my office.

What I realized is that no one really cares that I was late.  It’s not that there aren’t standards or rules at the office.  But I have a reputation of working very hard—despite my occasional disasters of oversleeping.  The key to today—I approached the day with enthusiasm.  This distracted me from thinking I was an irresponsible adult for oversleeping.  And by the end of the day—I had gotten quite a lot of work complete!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this scenario:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Put enthusiasm into your work.
Cooperate with the inevitable. 
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries.
Try to profit from your losses.

Remember, sometimes stupid mistakes or silly accidents happen.  Rather than dwell on feeling like a fool or an idiot—profit from the experience.  Turn the circumstance into something positive.  See if you can get more work done in less time.  See if you can distract everyone by your productivity that they forget you came in late.  Remind yourself that you have a reputation for being reliable, a good worker, etc etc.  When you take this approach—you focus your energy in a more positive, forward thinking direction that is more beneficial to you than wallowing in your mistakes.

Day 33. The only reason I woke up today…my boss called me….Guess what Dale Carnegie principles I managed to use today!


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 33.  April 27, 2011
I woke up this morning to the sound of my cell phone ringing right beside my pillow.

Startled, I look at the phone.  It’s my boss calling.  I look at the time… It’s 11:40 am on Wednesday. 

I leap out of bed—frantic—and irritated that I overslept.  I called my boss back—and try my best to muster a voice that doesn’t sound groggy like I just woke up.

“Oh hi—I um—had a rough night.  Apparently I was super tired—and I overslept…” 

My boss responded in her usual generous way—”oh no!  Well, why don’t you just take the day off and rest up.”

I respond, “oh thank you—but I have a lunch meeting with Kelley today at noon… which is in 20 minutes….”   

My boss and I both laugh at the absurdity of my circumstance.  “I’m not sure how, but I will be there one way or another….”

So I race through my morning ritual of getting ready.  I said a few frantic prayers—please God, help me.  Please Guardian Angel—help me get ready.  This is not how I planned the day.”

Despite running late—I quickly check my email.  I see a couple of my friends posted comments on my blog… that was enough to lift my spirits.  Well, I guess it was worth staying up super late the night before to post the blog. 

I throw on fresh clean clothes—do my best to get the hairdo in decent shape and I run out of the house into my car. 

 “Please God… make me fly through the streets.  Please clear traffic.  Hurry.”

I decide my goal is to get there by 12:30—which is late but not too late. 

I race through the tollway—the speed limit is 70mph—which ordinarily seems way too fast—but today…. I’m pushing 75mph. 

New world record!

I manage to get to the office which is over 30 miles away… in 32 minutes!  Typically it takes 1 hour – 1:15 minutes to get to work.  If there’s rain…two hours. In snow or ice… three or more hours….

I’m so grateful I made it in record time.  I’m still pretty frantic—I literally just woke up—and my head is still groggy… and mildly aching. 

I walk in to the office looking for my poor friend Kelley who must be patiently waiting to have lunch with me.

No Kelley in sight.  I ask around—“has anyone seen Kelley?”

I sit down and check all my email.  That’s when I saw an email from Kelley… she woke up this morning feeling ill—so she had to cancel.  (She emailed 3 hours ago)

It was at this point I felt like a deflated balloon.  I took a deep breath.  I did my best to smile.  I decided to find humor in the rich irony.

I was so exhausted I felt like I melted...

You see—on Sunday I kept writing an email to send to my boss—but I just couldn’t hit send.  The email was to request a day off on Easter Monday.  (We had to work on Good Friday).  I not only wanted a day off—I needed a day off.  I have been exhausted.  My boss would gladly give me a day off but I just can’t bring myself to ask.  And there’s this pesky Dale Carnegie principle that keeps nagging me “Rest before you get tired”.  In talking to the UPS service rep yesterday she told me she spent the entire Sunday resting. I joked—yes, I’ve heard about that concept—what’s that like?  I just can’t seem to do it!  I’ve been chewing on the idea of a day off all week…

The Dale Carnegie principle I should have used today:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.

Instead of springing out of bed in a crazed panic—I should have paused… and reviewed all my emails. If I had—I could have agreed to my boss’s suggestion of taking a day off!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Try to profit from your losses.
Pray.

I accepted I would be late this morning and just focused on minimizing how late.  Plus I knew Kelley would understand.  Once I realized the lunch plans were cancelled—I did my utmost to profit from my losses by trying to find humor in the irony of the circumstance.

So remember, before going into a crazed panic– slow down.  Take a deep breath.  Get all the facts.  Review the facts.  Then proceed calmly.  Otherwise you might miss an opportunity like I did of having a day off.  Also– before getting irritated when you receive ingratitude, lemons or a heap of something I cannot repeat… do your best to turn it into something positive.  Profit from your losses.  The easiest way to do this is to find humor — to find some silly irony in the moment.

Day 15. Try this approach when your hair gets bushwacked by enormous scissors


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 15.  April 9, 2011 
It was Saturday, January 8, 2011.  My hairdresser wasn’t available—but another stylist was willing to cut my hair.  I didn’t think it was a big deal—it’s just a short haircut—surely anyone can cut my hair.  I showed the stylist a photo of my last haircut and explained I like it short but feminine.

This woman began cutting mercilessly, with what appeared to be trimmers that are meant for yard work.  (Yes, I mildly exaggerate, but these were some large scissors my hairdresser would never use on me). 

It looked like someone trimmed my hair with hedge shears...

At this time I was still enrolled in the Dale Carnegie course.  I reviewed the principles in my head and decided I’d trust this woman to cut my hair.  She’s a professional.  But halfway into this I did remind her politely—please be sure it’s still feminine….

When she was finished—I had super short, spiked hair.  She put gel in it to make sure those spikes would stick up.  I wanted to cry.  I clung to my Carnegie principles as best I could but the look on my face gave me away. 

I kept reminding myself it’s just hair and that I will have to be patient as it grows back.  The worst that can happen is that someone mistakes me for a boy.  So I solved this problem by wearing earrings, necklaces, mascara and a headband.  I also decided that if I smile maybe people will be distracted by the smile they won’t notice the horrible haircut. 

Fast forward to Saturday April 9, 2011.   My hair is finally long enough to get it cut by my trusted hairdresser.  As I watched my hairdresser cutting with focus and precision with her small scissors I reflected on the last three months.

Ironically, the last three months have been among the best:

  • I graduated the Dale Carnegie course. 
  • I had an incredibly successful business trip where I was able to use my new skills from the Dale Carnegie course.
  • I’ve made some new contacts and new friends.
  • New opportunities have opened up for me.
  • I smiled far more than usual.

The Dale Carnegie principles I applied in this story included:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:

  • Keep busy.
  • Don’t fuss about trifles.
  • Cooperate with the inevitable.
  • Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.
  • Try to profit from your losses.

By applying the principles I accepted the reality of my bad haircut and focused on other activities and other people.  By doing this the bad haircut became a trivial matter. 

So remember, if you are faced with a disappointment figure out how to use it to your advantage.  Your life will be more fulfilling because you won’t waste your time and energy blaming circumstances or people for your unhappiness.

Day 1 of 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles


As a recent graduate from the Dale Carnegie course, I have been putting effort into living the Dale Carnegie principles.  To take the process one step further—I have decided to make myself accountable by starting a daily blog to document exactly what principles I have lived for the next 365 days. 

My hope is to grow as a person and invite others to grow with me in this process.  I am certain if you put any one of the principles into practice you too will benefit from the results.

Day 1.  March 26, 2011

How I turned rotting fish into lemonade using the Dale Carnegie approach.

It was a beautiful Spring morning—warm and sunny with the promise of a great day.  I was approaching the gate on the side of my house to enter the backyard.  I stopped in my tracks… I noticed a very foul stench and looked around for the cause.  I opened the gate and there was the source of the foul stench:  a Wal-Mart bag with a huge dead fish. 

At this juncture I’d like to say that I handled the moment in a civilized fashion—but I’m human.  I was just plain livid—spouting out a colorful bouquet of choice words for the prankster(s).  My instinct was to go to the neighbors and politely accuse them of throwing a rotting fish in my backyard.  But I didn’t.  I grabbed my shovel, a trash can and bag and scooped the rotting fish, mush and all.  In all it took minutes—I did what needed to be done—as an adult, a homeowner and as a Carnegie graduate. 

As I did this task—I racked my brain trying to make sense of things.  What human being would throw a fish into someone’s yard?  What does this say about the person?  I’ve been listening to Jim Rohn and the Art of Exceptional Living.  As Jim Rohn describes it—a person who says he doesn’t do his best in just one area of his life—is fooling himself.  A behavior—good or bad—trickles into all areas of a person’s life.

So today I decided to turn a rotting fish into lemonade by creating a blog.  The principle I used is from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Part 4:  Try to profit from your losses.

When you try to profit from your losses– you will grow as a person, discover new opportunities and find happiness even in the most unpleasant of circumstances.