Day 89. It took 10 years for me to figure this out. Learn from my mistakes.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 89.  Thursday, June 23, 2011
You might remember the Day 81 entry where I sewed the most fabulous pillow because Seth and Stefano gave me the encouragement to try.  Well a lot has happened since then….

Feed the Fire of Enthusiasm

I am up to 6 finished pillows, 2 pillows-in-progress and a potential wall hanging….This does not include the projects in my mind that are just bursting for the opportunity to come to life….I guess you could say I am the mad scientist of sewing… or at least pillow making.  Even the other night I had a dream I sewed myself into a pillow….

My enthusiasm led me to approach my associate Roberta, who was buried with a pile of paperwork this afternoon. 

Smiling Daffodil:
“Excuse me Roberta, before today is over will you show me how to sew this fancy yarn and cording?”

Roberta:
“Oh my!  Yes I will!  Your grandmother would be so jealous of me, Smiling Daffodil!  I’ll be happy to show you.”

So this evening once our regular boring “office” work was complete, Roberta pulled out the special sewing machine foot for sewing yarns and other specialty fibers.  Roberta had a very long, stressful day yet she was eager to teach me this new sewing technique. 

She shared tips and invited me to use any of her specialty yarns and fibers.  (Her willingness to let me use any of her materials always stuns me.  She never says you can use this material but not that.  Or here, use this cheap, ugly material—the other material is too expensive for you to use.)

She was absolutely enthusiastic and excited to teach me.  As I listened to Roberta, I couldn’t help but think of Dale Carnegie’s principles.  I didn’t set out to use a principle but somehow I unlocked the magic of a particular principle:

From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 4.  Become genuinely interested in other people.

I had taken the time to become interested in sewing—and what really made the difference is that I involved Roberta in this process.  By taking interest and asking Roberta for help, advice and tips—both parties got what they wanted.  I wanted to learn some new techniques, feel creative and succeed in my sewing endeavors.  She got to share her expertise with me.  She got to feel important. 

The outcome is greater than meets the eye. 

I am happy because I get to create.  I am also happy because she sees I am happy.  (Actually, the entire building senses my explosion of happiness and benefits from it).

She is happy because she gets to teach an associate—she gets to feel important.  She is also happy because she sees me happy.  (Actually, the entire building benefits from this).

The bigger picture is a happier work environment, greater productivity and greater profitability.  

So remember, although you might be capable of learning something on your own through trial and error—sometimes it serves everyone’s interests if you ask for help from an expert.  More often than not—someone is willing to teach you—they derive their feeling of importance by being considered an expert.  You get the benefit of learning how to do something the right way.  The result is relationship building, discovering new opportunities for making money and more importantly your own happiness.

Housekeeping / Notes:
Don’t forget to read this week’s guest blog post by my buddy Esteban.  I think his blog demonstrates the great opportunity parents have to teach their children.  Click here to read.

Day 25. Fight for your happiness


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 25.  April 19, 2011 
This morning Malcolm and I had a meeting.  The meeting began this way: 

DEEP SIGH from Malcolm. 

Then he grumbled unenthusiastic words to me, “how are you this morning?”  The meeting pretty much continued in this way. 

I found myself getting sucked into the black hole of Malcolm’s unhappiness.  By the time the meeting wrapped up I was completely irritated.  I just kept thinking get me out of this miserable place.

As I drove to Starbucks for some coffee—I resorted to a new technique.  I decided to fight for my happiness.  I was not going to let Malcolm’s unhappiness drag me down. 

Fight for your happiness.

I gave myself a very direct and impassioned pep talk that went like this:
“No one—not Malcolm, or “so and so” has control over my mood.  I create and determine my happiness.  I will not surrender control of my mood to Malcolm.  Malcolm has no right to control my mood.  I will have a good day.  I control my happiness.” 

And you know what happened?  I had a great, productive, happy day.  I’m not sure what tickles me more—the fact that I had a great day or the fact that I proved I control my own happiness despite my surroundings.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope.
Do not imitate others.

Remember, no matter your surroundings– YOU control your happiness.  When you find yourself sinking into unhappy oblivion, take forward thinking action, take deliberate measures to take control of your happiness.  Go for a walk.  Smile at a complete stranger.  Take a deep breath.  Do everything you can to control your outlook.  You can control your happiness.  You just have to take action.

Day 14. Try this approach when you’re tempted to bite someone’s head off just because it’s the morning


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 14.  April 8, 2011 
Before taking the Dale Carnegie course, I would have approached this day differently.  To me this day has two tasks that must be completed.  Absolutely everything else is trivial because I don’t go home until these two tasks are finished.  Period.

But having taken the Dale Carnegie course, I am more aware of my surroundings and the effect my attitude and behavior has on the people in it.  Grumble.  This is a horse pill to swallow and without water.  You see, having focus gets the job done—but it doesn’t often endear you to other people if you come off cold.  Plus people tend to fear their heads will get bitten off as they tip-toe around you.

I prepared myself for this day by skipping the gym the night before and trying to get to bed a bit earlier than usual.  On the drive to work I prayed then I listened to a CD on personal development.  You would think given these precautions it’s easy for me to be a ray of sunshine in the morning.  Ha.

Cautiously my coworker—Marcella suggested I go get my Java Chip Frappuccino before we begin working on a project together.  (That’s code for you’re probably going to be crabby until you have your precious drink).  I smile and say I’m ready to begin the project without the drink.

As we begin to work on the project together I decided to try to see things from Marcella’s perspective.  I decided to point out specific elements of Marcella’s work that I really liked.  I was sincere in my words—I really cannot swing flattery and I’d rather say nothing at all if it comes off fake or insincere.

The result of my actions towards Marcella created a positive, relaxed and dare I say it—fun atmosphere—and it was done without the help of a Java Chip Frappuccino—which I have to say probably startled us both.  All it took was a firm resolve to change.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used this morning:
From Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 1.  Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Principle 13.  Begin in a friendly way.

From Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Pray.
Do the very best you can.
Protect your health and appearance by relaxing at home.

I rested the night before, mentally prepared myself this morning by praying.  By putting myself in Marcella’s shoes of being stuck with a grouch (me) I was more willing to surprise her and me by choosing to be a friendlier individual.  I even found reasons to praise her sincerely.

Not only did I get my two main tasks complete today but no one’s heads were bitten off.

So, remember, as stressful as a day might be—try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to see what it would be like to have to work with a cold, head-biting individual (even if that individual is a hard worker).  Instead of biting their heads off, surprise them by beginning in a friendly way.  I guarantee you’ll enjoy the reaction.

Day 7. Perspective


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 7.  April 1, 2011 

I was talking to a friend named Harold.  Harold is very experienced and skilled in his career.  While we were both taking a break, Harold felt it was important to give me advice on how to do my job.  The thing is—our job responsibilities couldn’t be more different. 

I didn’t ask for the advice and frankly I wouldn’t seek it from Harold.  He doesn’t have the experience to give me the advice. 

I’ve often been told my eyes give me away—that you can tell what I think of a person just by looking at my eyes. 

Well today being Day 7 of my 365 day challenge of living the Dale Carnegie principles, I wasn’t going to go down without a fight (a different sort of fight).  So, instead of calling Harold a misguided fool or an idiot (with my eyes of course)… I decided to take a different approach. I took a deep breath.  I focused on the prize.  The prize is changing my behaviors and attitudes. 

I remembered a passage from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.  The passage is about Abraham Lincoln:
“And when Mrs. Lincoln and others spoke harshly of the southern people, Lincoln replied:  ‘Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.’”  (Part I, Chapter 1)

Harold is behaving the way he knows how to behave.  I tried to put myself in Harold’s shoes.   Harold likes to feel important – and in fact, all of us do.  I took another deep breath before responding to Harold.

I thanked Harold for his kindness in giving me advice.  Harold went back to work happily and ironically… I did too. 

There are multiple principles I used in this situation.  Among them are:

From Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles.

From Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 9.  Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. 
Principle 10.  The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Principle 17.  Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

The next time someone frustrates you—take a deep breath and think about Abraham Lincoln’s words:  “they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”

When you do this, you will be reminded that this frustrating individual is human, makes mistakes just like you and me and craves the need to feel important—just like you and me.  If you can sincerely find a way to make the individual feel important—you will grow as a person and you’ll be much happier.

Day 5. Enthusiasm


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 5.  March 30, 2011 
I can’t decide which Carnegie story to share today so I’m sharing two today.  To the two people that read my blog (ha) feel free to let me know which you like best.

 

 

Story 1. 
I have suggested an idea on at least 3 different occasions to “Carlos”.  Each and every time the idea was shot down.  I understand Carlos’s hesitation to adopt my idea so I don’t really argue the point.  Well today Carlos came to me with a brilliant idea he was so excited to share. 

Put enthusiasm in your work. It makes the process easier.

 

You know where I’m going with this story. 

Carlos shared his idea—which of course was my idea. I can probably reference the exact days I suggested the idea.  I listened to Carlos telling me his brilliant idea and kept  repeating in my head… “Dale Carnegie.  Dale Carnegie.”  I took a deep breath.  I struggled internally because I thought Carlos was proving yet again that he’s nuts.  I sat there struggling and then thought… who cares whose idea it is… all I know is that the idea is a good one and I finally get approval to carry it out.  I smiled and told Carlos it’s a great idea. 

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

Principle 16.  Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers. 

When you let the other person feel the idea is his or hers—both of you can focus your energy toward following through on the idea.  Progress is made. 

 ————————————————————-

Story 2. 
I had a photoshoot today that I was not especially enthused about.  I had a horrible time trying to prepare the studio.  The fabric I was using as a prop was wrinkled and all my efforts to iron and steam the wrinkles out failed.  I set the shot up—took a dozen photos.  Didn’t really like any of them.  I was completely frustrated that I had to do this task.  In my mind this task really wasn’t my responsibility… etc, etc.  The day just seemed to drag on forever.  I was concluding it was a crummy day.     

Before leaving I reviewed my to-do list and noticed I didn’t finish an article I had written.   I needed some photos to really make the article come alive.  I started gathering props and samples.  I went into the studio, removed the previous items I had photographed about two hours earlier.  I left the wrinkled fabric in place—mainly because I liked the color and didn’t want to try ironing other fabric. 

Well, after an hour and a half into this second photoshoot of the day, I had to pull myself away from my work.  I was completely engulfed in the work—I was not merely photographing pins, needles and flower samples—no—no—I was creating art.  I was immersed in my work—changing angles and lighting as I photographed.  I probably could have stayed well into the night photographing pins, needles and flowers. 

As I drove home trying to think of what Carnegie principles I exercised today I realized I was my own case study—my own lab rat.  The first photoshoot was miserable—because I didn’t approach it with enthusiasm.  The second photoshoot was creative, fun and a success (even with the same wrinkled fabric) because I approached it with giddy enthusiasm.  My perspective of the task I had to do changed.  It was the same work– just a different outlook. 

The principle I used in this example is from Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Put enthusiasm into your work.

When you put enthusiasm in your work the output is better quality because you put your heart into it.  You might even find that the work doesn’t feel like labor at all.  And let’s be clear– it doesn’t matter what type of work– doing the dishes, mopping the floor, performing brain surgery– if you approach it with enthusiasm you are guaranteed to feel more productive and fulfilled. 

So, to the couple of people that read my blog… which story do you like best?