Day 115. I planned on making lemonade out of my disappointment.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 115.  Tuesday, July 19, 2011
This morning I woke up and prayed:  “Lord, I can see myself putting the Dale Carnegie books far out of reach and battling it out today.  Please help me.”

As I drove I did everything I could to convince myself that today’s meeting was not worth fighting over. I remembered Abraham Lincoln’s words—‘Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.’

I chewed on the fact that they have not had the luxury of taking a Dale Carnegie course.  I can’t blame them if they don’t behave the way I want them to.  I have taken the course and with that comes responsibility.  I cannot bring disgrace to Dale Carnegie graduates or the organization.  I must behave.  I must remain calm under pressure. 

I touched my necklace around my neck with tiny fish dangling from it.  I wear the fish necklace to remind me of my first blog—the day I found a rotting fish on my lawn. 

I profited from my losses and made four new friends clear across the planet.

I amused myself that I profited from my losses that day.  When life handed me lemons I made lemonade (or rather, life handed me a stinky, rotting fish and I made a blog).

I amused myself that this past weekend I fearlessly cleaned up a water heater closet that was full of gecko poop and I discovered I’m stronger than I think.

I don’t how these thoughts clicked in my head.  I guess I figured if I could do those things I can handle this meeting. I resolved to be as professional, kind and accommodating as I could in today’s meeting.  I would be sure that my eyes would not betray me.  I will not shut down when they criticize and complain.  I will expect ingratitude.  I prepared for the absolute worst.

The meeting happened at the end of the day.    

The meeting did not go as planned.  The individuals in the meeting were quite pleased and more importantly—they were appreciative of the work I did.  They indicated my work exceeded their expectations. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this scenario are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Pray.
Expect ingratitude.
Do the very best you can.
How to face trouble:
A.  Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
B.  Prepare to accept the worst.
C.  Try to improve on the worst.

To be clear—I’ve been waiting for this day for almost a year.  My workout at the gym last night was very intense.  I did everything I could to mentally and physically prepare myself for today’s carelessness and ingratitude.  I resolved that my best meant I had to be accommodating, patient and open-minded no matter what was thrown at me.  I put my heart and being into a project and I fully expected and prepared to get trampled on.  Instead I received a thank you. 

The lesson I hope you take from this story—the only person you can change is yourself.  Don’t expect others around you to change.  Don’t blame them for not changing.  Instead, figure out how you can adapt yourself to deal with the challenging people and circumstances around you.  Figure out how you can profit from your losses.  In my case—as I walked into the office I was fully prepared to leave at the end of the day with a story of how I made lemonade from the lemon of ingratitude I was handed. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised, grateful and relieved.  And yes, I celebrated by having dinner at my favorite Chick-fil-A

Housekeeping / Notes:
Thank you for reading my blog. 

Day 103. A new twist on the saying, “When life hands you lemons… make lemonade”


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 103.  Thursday, July 7, 2011
Back in May I negotiated a deal with my boss.  I told him I’d reach a certain number of fans on the company Facebook page by the end of June.  I told him it would be a piece of cake… chocolate cake to be exact.  He laughed and agreed to the terms. 

While I prefer money over cake—I am aware that life is not always fair.  I make lemonade from lemons as much as I can. 

The best cake.

Besides…this wasn’t just any chocolate cake.  Last summer the owner brought us a cake from Eatzi’s.  It was a fancy, overpriced chocolate cake.  If heaven served cake this would be the one.  This was the best cake I’ve ever had—well, to be clear—I had the crumbs that were leftover.  By the time I arrived to the kitchen the cake was pretty much gone.

Those cake crumbs had such a lasting impression. 

So now you can understand my enthusiasm for reaching my goal on Facebook.  I did reach my goal—in fact two weeks ahead of schedule.  The minute I hit the mark I let my boss know it was time for my cake. 

Days passed.  Weeks passed.  No cake. 

About a month later my boss walks in with my cake. I was beaming. 

It was a mini-sized cake in a cute little box.  Do I share?  I grabbed a black Sharpie and wrote “Touch & Die” on the box. 

A friendly warning

Mom taught me manners.  Grumble.  So at 3 pm I invited everyone to the breakroom for cake. 

There were a lot of people gathered in the breakroom around a very tiny cake.  I carefully cut the cake into tiny slivers and handed them out hoping that I’d end up with a piece of my own cake. 

The right knife for the job

Sure enough I did. And there were two small pieces left over for an afternoon snack.

Well, today I was ready for my afternoon snack.  I grabbed the cake box from the fridge and took the box to my office. I felt a little guilty as I looked down at the writing on the box “Touch & Die”.  I hoped people understood it was a friendly exaggeration. 

Hardly a crumb left

I sat down at my desk, opened the box… and it was EMPTY!

My heart sank.  It’s one thing to eat the last piece of cake but it’s even more alarming to leave the empty box in the fridge.  I could suddenly relate to what my dog must feel like when she smells beef grilling out on the patio and she doesn’t get any.

The Dale Carnegie principle I found a way to use in this scenario is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Profit from your losses.

After I got over the shock of my empty box I realized I had a story all lined up for today’s blog.  I profited from my losses by making my missing cake an entertaining story for you to share.

My lesson to you is to find creative ways to make lemonade from the lemons handed to you.  Or like this story shows I figured out how to make lemonade when the lemons were taken away from me.  You’ll find that fussing over trifles or disappointments isn’t worth the energy.  You have what it takes to profit from your losses.

Day 86. In retrospect, my gift was more like a macaroni art project….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 86.  Sunday, June 19, 2011
I was up late on Saturday.  I was frantic because I wasn’t certain I had a sewing needle in the house.  I can’t give an unfinished pillow as a gift with the stuffing falling out….

I painstakingly stitched the pillow closed—hoping no one would notice the imperfections with the crooked stitches.  I wrapped the finished pillow in tissue paper and was actually glad I took the time to make a gift instead of buy a gift card.

The colors for the pillow were chosen for a reason.  They had an Asian flair to them. 

I pride myself in my marketing skills.  But I failed at this task completely.  I presented the gift to the recipient and I think he was either embarrassed, puzzled or didn’t like it.  He thanked me.  I replied, “I made it.”  “Yes, I can see that.”

Some see food, others see art project. It's all about perspective....

In retrospect I should have thought about what is important to this person.  His likes, his preferences, his interests—instead of thinking he’d like a homemade pillow.  I felt dejected—thinking my pillow was the equivalent of a child’s macaroni art project. 

I was at a very important crossroad in my mind.  I decided to take a very sharp turn and create happiness for others instead of dwelling on everything that went wrong with this day. 

I remembered Walter—he’s divorced, his kids are grown and odds are he’s alone today.  I sent him a text message wishing him a Happy Father’s Day.  To my surprise, he immediately texted me back thanking me.

This was balm for my wounds.  So I sent another text—this time to Alejandro.  Alejandro has a stepson.  Every year that he’s been married I have wished him a Happy Father’s Day.  I am the only one in his life that wishes him a Happy Father’s Day.  He too responded back immediately—thanking me and pointing out yet again that I never fail at remembering year after year.

Last, I sent a text to another friend—Mustafa.  He’s divorced and has a little girl.  I’m always touched by his Facebook wall posts about his weekends with his daughter.  You can really see that he loves his daughter.  He also responded immediately.

For my final mental trick—I was leaving my home when I noticed my neighbors were packing their suburban.  The last time I saw my neighbor she was pregnant.  (You might remember the “Ode to the Rotting Fish story”)   Well, she has since had her baby—and I could see the baby seat in the car.  I rolled down my window and smiled.  Then I got out of my car and excitedly went to see the new baby.  I wished her husband a Happy Father’s Day. 

I’d like to say this day was a piece of cake.  I’d like to say that it’s easy to implement the Dale Carnegie principles every single day.  Some days are a real challenge.  However, through the entire process I was aware I had the tools I needed to get through the day.  I also have black and white proof—85 days to be exact—of implementing the principles. 

It is true I should have been more aware of the person’s interests when choosing a gift—and perhaps I could have marketed the homemade pillow better—pointing out the features and why it should be of interest or value. 

 On the bright side—as the day unfolded not as I planned—I knew I had potential for a good blog.  It was just up to me to figure out how to make lemonade from this day.  I knew I had to choose to make lemonade otherwise I’d have an unhappy day.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.
Profit from your losses.
Keep busy.

From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 17.  Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

I hope you find value to this story for the right reasons.  My main objective in sharing it is not for sympathy.  Understand that people are who they are—and they don’t always realize the effects of their actions.  I’m among those people more often than not.  Knowing what disappointment feels like—I realize the need to be more appreciative of others for what they do for me.  Remember this the next time you are met with disappointment and learn to change your own behavior before pointing the blame at everyone else. The only person you can change is yourself and how you deal with situations. 

Incidentally, I made two more heart pillows today for no other reason than to keep my mind busy for my own sake.  And let me tell you…. they are stunning.  I might have to go into the pillow business if my lemonade stand doesn’t last. 

Housekeeping / Notes

  • Coming soon!  Two guest blog posts!  Two of my favorite gentlemen have stepped up to the challenge.  More information coming soon.
  • Don’t forget—mi casa es su casa (my home is your home).  There is always room for a guest blogger at the Smiling Daffodil’s blog home.  All are welcome.  You don’t even need skills at writing.  Click for more information.
  • It was a busy weekend.  In case you missed a post, click on the Pictorial/Archive section. Thank you for reading my blog. 

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 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.