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 24: Use humor as your weapon of choice when the day greets you with disappointment


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 24.  April 18, 2011 
I was invited to go to a very exclusive educational trip next month.  I was not merely happy to go, I was leaping with excitement.  At last, my hard work has paid off—I am being recognized for my skills and my potential to expand my skills even more.  I was telling everyone about this “big fancy trip”.

Well, today I decided to register for the classes, secure the hotel and airfare.  That’s when I saw the fine print to this invitation.  Basically I am only going for two days—not the entire week.  I am only taking one class.  If I want to take more than one class—I will have to pay for the hotel and the fees for the additional classes. 

No problem.  I am willing to pay.  That is, until I saw the costs.  I can’t afford it.

Imagine being a kid in a candy store and not having any money to purchase candy. Or imagine being in the best steakhouse on a Friday during Lent.  (You aren’t permitted to eat meat on Fridays during Lent).

To say I was devastated is an understatement.  I tried to remember the Dale Carnegie principles.  But I was mad.  I was disappointed.  I was in tears.  I was the full range of emotions.  Why bother making this trip just for one silly class? 

I drove home from work trying desperately to understand Dale Carnegie’s principle of “Live in day-tight compartments” while listening to the radio play “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones.

Suddenly the car in front of me caught my attention.  It jolted me enough for me to make a split second decision to follow it as it turned left into a shopping center. I had to get a picture of this car.  It had the coolest vanity license plate I have ever seen. 

I felt a bit absurd on my mission to follow it instead of going directly home but I couldn’t help myself.  I discreetly tracked down the car in the parking lot.  I looked around for witnesses as I pulled out the camera and took a picture. 

By this time I’m smiling, quite pleased my mission was accomplished.  On this random evening on my drive home from work, I managed to notice a car with a nickname that friends at the gym call me:  

I drove home with a smile on my face—realizing I got to experience firsthand what living in day-tight compartments is like.  Yes, I was disappointed and irked 10 minutes prior but somehow I managed to live in the present moment and find pleasure and simple humor in my surroundings. 

Let’s be clear.  Dale Carnegie principles don’t make your problems magically go away.  Sometimes there is pain, disappointment, frustration and all the other emotions that come with life.  But the Dale Carnegie principles are tools you can use to help get yourself past the negative emotions.  You just have to be willing to work for it.

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

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
– Live in day-tight compartments

So next time you find yourself a ball of emotions like me—step away from the moment.  Put effort into seeing the big picture—or even noticing the details in your surroundings that will bring you humor.  You will find immense satisfaction controlling your focus and emotions.  And it’s during this process you will discover what living in day-tight compartments feels like.

Day 17. Starbucks on NW Highway in Dallas uses Dale Carnegie principles


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 17.  April 11, 2011 
It was 11:30 am on a typical busy Monday.  I had a number of emails to go through—some were pleasant and some were not.  Various tasks I left from Friday were still left undone.  I was working hard to stick to the Dale Carnegie principles of not worrying and living in day tight compartments as individuals seemed to get under my skin.  I just kept smiling and repeating the name, ‘Dale Carnegie.’  ‘Dale Carnegie’. 

Eager for a break, I escaped to my favorite place—the Starbucks on Northwest Highway in Dallas.  As I walked in, I was greeted not by one but by all four of the employees—David, Robyn, Dominic and Sam. 

By greeted—I don’t mean a casual ‘Hello Ma’am’—or ‘Hello Miss.’  They don’t ask what I want to order. 

Each one of them greeted me by name with a friendly smile.  They also know my drink—my beloved Java Chip Frappuccino—and they know the particular way I like it prepared… with extra chocolate.

The sound of a person's name is even sweeter than a Java Chip Frappuccino...

It is these details that keep me coming back every single day.  I am valued and appreciated by my Starbucks on Northwest Highway. 

The Dale Carnegie Principles David, Robyn, Dominic and Sam practiced today are from the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:

Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Principle 5.  Smile.
Principle 6.  Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Thank you David, Robyn, Dominic and Sam for turning my Monday into a better day by using Dale Carnegie’s principles on me!

Remember, no matter how mundane your daily activities might be– look for opportunities to use the Dale Carnegie principles wherever you go.  It will give your day greater value and purpose.  And don’t forget to recognize when individuals you encounter throughout the day are also using the Dale Carnegie principles.

Day 16. A trip to the nail salon is a great place to apply the Dale Carnegie principles…


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 16.  April 10, 2011 
I was at the nail salon today getting a manicure and pedicure.  The challenge is—I feel the same way about getting my nails done as I do about getting teeth pulled.  It’s a mild form of torture—and how I wish they would just sedate me for the entire process.

Using the Dale Carnegie principles... one step at a time

I wondered if I could swing the application of Dale Carnegie principles while I was there.  I smiled as I walked through the salon seeing the other customers.  I grinned as I showed the manicurist my accidental mishap with the nail polish I spilled all over my hands.  The other customers looked amused at least.   As the mild mannered gentleman clipped, sanded and used all sorts of horrifying implements on my feet I sat cringing, with my hands on the arm rests in a death grip.  Oh, I put on a good show.

Suddenly one of the manicurists got up and dismissed herself.  Apparently she wasn’t feeling well—and her two clients were left with half finished manicures and pedicures. 

These two clients started to complain – they had been there for an hour and a half, etc, etc.  One of the manicurists—a junior in high school— did her best to shuffle from one client to the next. 

Somewhere along the way light conversation began among all of us.  Nothing profound—just friendly, small talk.  It was a nice human connection and a great way to diffuse the stress levels.  The woman next to me was getting her nails done because she was going to a musical tonight.  The other two complaining ladies admitted they were enjoying the massaging chairs and they were happy to be away from their husbands and kids.

Find opportunities to smile

I enjoyed watching and being an active participant in this process.  Another customer came and started to complain that she had an appointment and she’s been waiting 20 minutes.  The staff apologized. 

I informed the complaining customer that they were short staffed—an employee went home sick.  The look on the customer’s face completely changed.  Oh—I understand.  Her demeanor turned to pleasant and accommodating. 

Armed with confidence that the Carnegie principles were working—I decided to turn my attention to the high school student who was now painting my toenails.  I told her I admired her patience and skill with the task.  That I have no ability to do what she does—and besides—my own feet scare me.  She thanked me and laughed.  I learned she wants to go into medical school but she’s worried her grades aren’t good enough.  I asked questions here and there and she continued to talk about herself.

When it was time to pay she thanked me for my patience.  They had been short not one—but two employees that day and that it was especially hectic for her and the others to pick up the slack. 

I smiled, thanked her and gave her a good tip.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People
Principle 1.  Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Principle 4.  Become genuinely interested in other people.
Principle 5.  Smile.
Principle 7.  Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Principle 8.  Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. 

Remember, the next time you’re in a setting where the service isn’t what you are accustomed to—take a moment to remember the employees are human.  A kind word, patience and understanding can go a long way in making sure you get good service and you also diffuse a stressful situation.

Day 2. Smile!


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 2.  March 27, 2011

It’s day 2—and I was looking at my watch—it’s 5 pm and I’m running out of time to apply the Carnegie principles.  I began to worry—thinking I’m already going to fail at this blog. 

I drove to Starbucks in McKinney.  Even though it was cold and drizzling, I decided to walk in instead of going through the drive-through. 

I walked in, ordered my beloved Java Chip Frappuccino.  The only difference—I greeted the barista with a friendly smile.  When she gave me my drink I showed her my appreciation by thanking her and again, giving her a genuine smile.  The barista seemed to appreciate the gesture—she was just as friendly and appeared to appreciate being treated like a human.

The principle I used is from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People:

Principle 5.  Smile.

Smiling is the easiest technique to bring happiness to a stranger.