Day 29. It turns out the Dale Carnegie principles work in social settings where you don’t speak the language


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles 

Day 29.  April 23, 2011
I’m sitting in the second row of a church I don’t belong to and the entire service was in Spanish.  I’m not fluent in Spanish—I can understand roughly every third word—if it’s spoken slowly.

I wondered if there’d be a way to use the Dale Carnegie principles.  I wasn’t sure how I could—since I don’t speak the language.  I decided to turn on my other senses.  I observed with my eyes. 

There was a woman invited to speak—she had long dark hair—she was wearing a black blouse with a pretty turquoise skirt.  She approached the pulpit and from what I gathered—she said she was nervous about speaking in front of us.  She started out a bit soft spoken. 

I immediately connected with her—thinking she looks confident enough—I would never sense she was nervous.  From what I could piece together—she had been away from the church but having returned she found peace.  One of the parishioners turned on a CD with instrumental music—and this soft spoken woman who said she was nervous— began to sing.

And oh how she sang!  She belted it out with all her passion and might.  That spot right between the eyes above the bridge of the nose—wrinkled as she sang.  I could completely relate to that feeling and look—because I sing with all my heart too.  (granted, unlike her, I have ZERO singing skills).  

My interpretation of what woman sang...

It was a moving experience.  Despite being nervous she did what she set out to do and she gave it her best—which was a wonderful gift to the audience.

Afterwards there was a reception and I happened to be standing next to her.  I turned to her—not certain if she spoke English but I said—you sang beautifully!  She smiled and said, “thank you.”

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.

If you find yourself out of your element—use it as an opportunity to grow.  Open your eyes, your heart and your mind to learn from these experiences because that’s how they become more meaningful.  Even though I didn’t understand most of what was going on in the service I observed courage in another person and I had the opportunity to show her my appreciation.  It was a wonderful way to spend my evening!  When you are willing to take a chance and grow you will discover nothing will hold you back and life becomes more interesting.

Day 11. A fork in the road


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 11.  April 5, 2011
 I was at work with some associates when a discussion arose regarding another employee—named ‘McKinley Jones’.  The discussion was whether McKinley would be the appropriate person to take on a new responsibility at work. 

Now, before I took the Dale Carnegie course, I would have said something like this:
McKinley does a good job BUT…. McKinley doesn’t tend to come up with new ideas… if you remember, McKinley had a difficult time completing the last task… etc etc….

But now that I’m a Dale Carnegie graduate, I responded to my associates with these words:
It’s been my experience and I’m sure you’ll agree that McKinley is very good at following through on specific goals.  I think McKinley is up to the challenge of this new responsibility and will do well.  I am certain that if we clearly define the goals and tasks we expect McKinley to accomplish we will not be disappointed.

Now, to be clear—the second response did require some mental acrobatics on my part.  I had to take a deep breath and think hard about my decision.  I reached that fork in the road—where I could take the easy route of criticizing, condemning and complaining about an individual—or I could try a new, unworn path of finding the positive in an individual.  I chose the unworn path.    

Take a deep breath as you approach the fork in the road. Choose not to criticize, condemn or complain.

The effect—I did not damage the perception of McKinley Jones – I pointed out the positive attributes that McKinley contributes to the company.  Odds are high that when people think of McKinley they will think—that person is goal oriented.  Give McKinley a task and it gets done.  Period.

Imagine what the perception would be if I took the negative route to describe McKinley.  People would walk away thinking, gosh, you can’t rely on McKinley to come up with ideas.  Why is McKinley still here—or I sure hope I don’t get assigned to a project with McKinley.  This perception would not only affect the office but it would affect McKinley in a negative way.  McKinley would live down to the expectations. 

The principle I used today (and was really proud of this huge accomplishment) is from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 1.  Do not criticize, condemn or complain.

So remember, your words are powerful.  They can affect the perception that people have of another person.  Choose your words carefully and avoid criticizing, condemning or complaining about an individual. Focus on the positive characteristics of a person and that person will live up to the perception and expectations you have set forth.  You will also demonstrate a higher level of maturity and discipline.

Day 6. How Dale Carnegie helped me to ice skate


 

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 6.  March 31, 2011 
Preface:  Thank you for reading my blog about living the Dale Carnegie principles.

Today was an important day in my world—it was Session 3 of my ice skating lessons.  I was certain this day would be the perfect application of the principles for overcoming worry from Dale Carnegie. 

During last week’s skating experience I crashed on the ice so hard I passed out.  So today I was facing my enemy head on.  The enemy was fear.  I really thought I had a good handle on the fear until I put the skates on and was staring at the ice rink in front of me. 

I wore my gym watch to monitor my heart rate—and was pretty surprised to see my heart racing at 145 beats just standing by the skating rink.

Suffice it to say, I clung to my trainer for the entire hour.  Is there a word stronger than terrified? 

I tried to relax by taking deep breaths. 

I remembered my instructor Frank Starkey, from the Dale Carnegie course, explaining in the first session that as we progress through each of the Dale Carnegie classes our confidence will increase.  Being able to reference past successes in class will give us confidence to push ourselves to new challenges in the course and in life. 

I grinned remembering my achievements in the Dale Carnegie course. 

Despite my efforts to relax and think all these points through my limbs just weren’t loosening up.  Picture a stiff board on ice skates.   It was a very long hour. 

I was relieved the session was up—yet I was disappointed by my terror.  I thanked my trainer and said I was going to go back on the ice and try to tackle my fear.  I must do it.  And she said, “you will do it.”

She said the magic words: “you will do it”. 

You know that scene in the Gladiator, where Maximus is entering the Roman Colosseum, ready to face the battle?  That’s me.  Except picture someone 5’ 4”, a small frame, walking clumsily in ice skates up the stairs to enter the ice rink for Round 2. 

Gladiator, ice skater or just a person trying to exercise the Dale Carnegie principles?

There was just one little girl on the ice—probably 8 years old. She asked—“is this your first time?”  I explained my situation and that I had come to conquer my fear.  She said, “you can do it!”

Armed with confidence that my trainer and a random 8 year old girl had in me— I stepped onto the ice.  Terrified but determined.  I will not go home until I do this.  Period.

I reflected on my past success on the ice.  Last week I skated on my own for two hours with success.  Sure, I fell 4 times.  But I got up each time.  And although I did pass out—I lived to tell the story.  The bruises and scabs are badges of honor.  Free souvenirs. 

It took great mental effort but I was able skate—and I skated for two hours on my own.  The big stupid grin on my face summed it up.  I gave the little 8 year old girl a thumbs up as we crossed paths on the ice.  She shared the pleasure of my accomplishment.  And I grinned happily at her. 

There are multiple principles I applied (or tried to!) in this scenario:

From Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:

  1. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”  Prepare to accept the worst.  Try to improve on the worst. 
  2. Once a decision is reached, act!
  3. Cooperate with the inevitable.

 This evening wasn’t about how well I skated—I was still very clumsy—but the point was—I didn’t back down from my fear and I accepted the possibility that I could fall again.  The rewards—a big stupid grin, a very amusing show for the bystanders at the rink and I get the pleasure of knowing I did not back down. 

Let’s be practical—it’s hard to face fears in whatever form they come in.  But if you can practice the mental attitude of “I can and will do this, now”— then you will succeed.  And when you do this—you are able to manage worry and focus on achieving your goals—no matter how big or small.  Every accomplishment is worth being proud of and celebrating.