Day 47. The pen that broke the camel’s back…

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 47.  Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ketchup... the new red pen?

I use red pens for a living.  Not blue.  Not black.  Not green.  Not pink.  Red.

Somehow all my red pens have walked off—it’s part of life—like missing socks, missing forks, missing pocket change.  It’s something you accept and don’t bother to question. 

I placed an order for more red pens for my associate and me.  I was in my associate’s office when an office assistant handed my associate one red pen. 

I hope my readers understand that I’ve been trying REALLY hard to apply the Dale Carnegie principles daily.  Sometimes it’s easy.  Sometimes it’s a thrilling experience.  But for whatever reason, today the subject of red pens broke me. 

My associate must have seen the turmoil in my mind.  The look in my eyes said, “really, one lousy, red pen is all my associate gets?” while my mind was trying desperately to come up with a Dale Carnegie principle to diffuse the absurdity of what I was feeling.

 All I could muster was a weak, “oh.”

I went back to my desk, chewing on the matter far more than I should have.  I thought of Abraham Lincoln’s quote I referenced earlier this week, “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”

I thought about how people want to feel important.  And perhaps controlling office supplies makes people feel important.  Who am I to judge?  I like to feel important.  Heck, I want an overflowing box of red pens… perhaps I derive importance from have plenty of red pens on hand. 

At the end of the day I surrendered my one new red pen to my associate—saying she deserved to have it.  Now she has two red pens.  We both chuckled. 

I was tempted to purchase all the pens...

I had to go to three different stores this evening before I could find red pens.  Apparently there’s a shortage.  When I did find them I forked over a whopping five dollar bill for my own stash of precious red pens. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I should have applied immediately is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles.
Analyze your own mistakes and criticize yourself.

I regret letting silly red pens—of all objects—create such an absurd irritation.  I should have chuckled it off immediately. 

The freezer seemed like the safest place to control inventory levels of my personal stash of red pens.

Remember, sometimes the smallest of events in a day at just the right time have potential to create havoc.  But you have control over how you will react.  You can determine whether or not a minor circumstance will affect you or not.  When you recognize you have this level of control you will be ready to handle anything that comes your way.  Yes, even silly red pens.