Day 32. The Dale Carnegie Principles kept me from getting into fight with the President of the Homeowner’s Association Part 2 of the Lassie Story


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 32.  April 26, 2011
Preface:  Please read Part 1 of the Lassie Story first.  Fans of the blog have given it a top rating, it features some great Carnegie lessons and Part 2 will make more sense.   

Unexpected discovery on Easter

It was 7:45 am on Monday—and I decided to call the animal hospital before they close for the day.  “Hi—I’m the woman that found the sheltie—did anyone claim him yet?”

 The operator responded, “No—not yet.”

“Ok, I replied.  I’m going to knock on doors in the neighborhood and post signs.”

“Oh, that would be great.” said the operator.

I put on some nice clothes and set out on my mission.  I wanted to be sure I looked well put together so that people would be open to hearing what I had to say and not think I was soliciting.  (in other words… I put on my best pair of jeans, a nice t-shirt, my new shoes and a smile.)

I was certain I knew where the dog lived.  He lives at the house where I saw him circling the car.  I knocked on the door, smiled and asked the gentleman if he was missing a dog.  No, he wasn’t.

I was not expecting this answer.  I was rather stunned. 

So I tried some other homes.  I was getting one of two response—either no one was home or they weren’t missing a dog. 

What was striking about this experience was how friendly and appreciative the neighbors were.  They were grateful I was on a mission to find the dog’s owner.  To me this was an obvious course of action—I promised the dog I’d find his owner and I fully intended to follow through.  Personally, I go nuts losing anything

After awhile I realized I needed to treat this task like a marketing campaign.  I decided to strategically post my waterproof signs throughout the neighborhood.  (I made the signs waterproof by sealing them in clear plastic bags.)  I taped the signs on the lampposts and stop sign posts.  I even went to the local gas station and gave the cashier one of my flyers. 

Then as I was taping a sign on one of the most frequented light posts in the neighborhood… a woman drove up beside me.  She said to me in her British accent… “you can’t post signs.”

I had a split second to react…

I turned to her and calmly said… “what would you suggest?  I found a dog last night and I’m trying to find the owner.” 

She gave me her business card and said I could visit the Homeowner’s Association website and post information there.  Her name, of course, was the infamous, “Betty Lou”. 

I have never met Betty Lou in person but I am well acquainted with her.  I am certain this woman watches every move I make.  She sends me postcards in the mail letting me know I have weeds in my flowerbeds and I need to remove them.  She lets me know I left my trash bin outside on a day other than trash day and that I must remove the bin immediately or pay fines.

She is President of the Homeowner’s Association—and I have the privilege of paying her salary and the services she diligently provides. 

I remove the sign, dejected.  I start scanning my memory for a Dale Carnegie principle to get me through this.  I manage to amuse myself by concluding she and her staff are very efficient.  Their very existence is to make sure no one breaks rules.  I can appreciate they don’t want to junk up lampposts.  After all  look at how pretty all the lampposts are without signs… (well, except for the lampposts that still have my signs plastered on them…)

I decide to outsmart Betty Lou.  There are no rules against putting flyers on doors—I know that for a fact because I get flyers daily. 

So I walk the neighborhood putting flyers under doormats, carefully positioning the flyers so that the homeowners see the dog’s photo first.  There are a lot of homes with signs—“no solicitors, no flyers.”  I decide the signs aren’t directed to me—I’m doing a public service.  So I continue my mission.

I found a house with the fence fallen over from the storm.  The owner had a door mat that said “Wipe your paws.”   I can picture the sheltie living here.  This must the house.  I knock on the door—no answer.  I left a flyer under the mat.

As I’m walking—I see a woman—and approach her with a smile.  No, she hasn’t lost a dog.. but there’s a neighbor three houses away that did lose a dog!

I raced over to the house and knocked on the door with anticipation.  No one answered the door.  I left a flyer under the mat.

By this time it’s 11 am.  I decide I’ve done enough for the day and I’m late enough for work.

Once at work, I call the Homeowner’s Association to find out where I could post information on their website.  I spoke with “Patricia”.  I told her the entire story about Lassie—the Easter dog I found.  She was completely sympathetic.  

“It even knows tricks…I’m sure someone is missing their dog,” I tell Patricia. 

 “Oh yes, no doubt”, she replied.  

Patricia gets information on the dog just in case someone calls looking for him.  At one point in the conversation I hesitate—and said, “I’m going to get in trouble with you…. You see, I posted signs on lampposts.  I know I’m not supposed to… but I feel so bad for the dog and the dog’s owner.  I have a dog too and if I lost my dog… I would hope someone did the same for me….”

Patricia said.. oh, don’t you worry.  I would have done the same.  The worst that will happen is that they remove the signs.  But it will be ok.” 

 “Oh thank you,” I said to Patricia. 

 ———
It’s evening now and I’m driving into my neighborhood.  My heart sinks.  ALL the waterproof signs I lovingly posted on lampposts and stop sign posts are gone.  I wanted to cry.  Really?  Do you not have a heart Betty Lou and your minions?  (Patricia is excluded from this group of course)

As I am checking my mail a neighbor drives by—and asks if I found the dog’s owner yet.  I was touched he cared enough to ask and he expressed his gratitude for my mission.

After having dinner I went to the store to pick up a stuffed animal toy for the dog.  Then driving over to the vet, I remembered I held the dog in my arms.  He knows my scent.  I decide to rub the stuffed animal on me—so that my scent is on the toy.  This way, he will be comforted with a familiar scent. 

I walked into the animal hospital and the same technician from the night before greeted me.  She said…we have good news!  We found the owner!

“Thank God!” I replied. 

The technician said, “you were his guardian angel!  We called the owner and he insisted the dog was home.  We explained we tracked him down with the microchip in the dog and the owner admitted he was out of town until Wednesday.  The dog must have escaped somehow.  So the dog will remain with us until then.” 

I smiled completely unaffected by the carelessness of the owner to leave a dog alone for three days.  I was just relieved I was able to keep my word with the dog to reunite him with his owner. 

Before leaving I told the technician, “I brought a toy for the dog.”

The technician replied, “oh, I’ll make sure the dog goes home with it!” 

I handed her the little stuffed lamb I carefully selected for the sheltie.  

A variety of Dale Carnegie principles were used in this story:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile.
Principle 10.  The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Principle 13.  Begin in a friendly way.
Principle 19.  Appeal to the nobler motives.
Principle 18.  Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
–          Live in “day-tight compartments.”
–          Do the very best you can.
–          Put enthusiasm into your work.

 I did not let the Homeowners Association prevent me from executing my plan of action.  When they tried to stop me—I found creative ways to comply with the rules while still keeping focused on my goal.  I was even able to convince Patricia, an employee with the Association that breaking the rules did make sense in this case. 

In this story enthusiasm trumped everything.  I was no longer nervous about knocking on strangers’ doors, interrupting their mornings and asking them if they lost a dog.  I was able to think creatively and strategically—from waterproof signs, to observing which homes had fallen fences to posting signs at busy traffic areas. 

You might ask why I didn’t just wait a day or two to see if the microchip had current contact information on the owner.  I couldn’t bear to think of the owner being worried sick about his/her missing dog.  I would want someone to do the same for me.  I even planned for the worst—I was thinking of individuals who could adopt the dog. 

If you take anything from this story—I hope it is this—approach a task with enthusiasm.  When you approach a task with enthusiasm you will accomplish things you never would have imagined.

Day 31. Dale Carnegie’s principles gave me courage to save Lassie’s relative. Part 1


Lassie's relative: Francis the Easter Dog

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 31.  April 25, 2011
It was 11 pm on Sunday.  The Easter festivities from the day were over.  I was going to pick up my workout clothes at home and head to the gym.  (I spent entire day trying to figure out how I could do two workouts in one day since I skipped my Saturday run at the gym).  So much for living in day-tight compartments.

There had been a severe storm with heavy winds and hail that evening.  It cleared up but it was still very wet outside.  As I reached the end of a street and stopped at the stop sign—I noticed a dog.  It was circling a parked car.  I looked around to see if there was an owner but the dog was by itself. 

I parked my car at the stop sign and got out of the car.  The dog came up to me immediately.  I was a bit scared… is it a dog… is it a coyote… after composing myself I confirmed it was the same type of dog from the old TV program— “Lassie”.  Ha! Certainly not a wild, fierce animal. 

It started circling my car.  The poor thing was scared.  I started talking to it—“where are your parents?  Do you know where you live?  What’s your name?”

Since it was a dog—clearly it couldn’t answer.  But it sure was friendly—it came up to me—and at one point I bravely stroked its fur.  I wasn’t sure what to do with the dog.  I couldn’t leave it alone.  But it’s 11 pm.  The neighborhood is asleep.

I said a prayer, “please God I don’t know what to do.  I am afraid of big dogs—and there’s no way I’m going to pick it up.”

I decided to open the back passenger door of my car.  If it’s meant that I get involved—the dog will enter the car without coaxing. 

 Well, the dog hopped right into my car. 

I closed the door, walked around to the driver’s side and entered my precious car that now has a wet dog inside.  I prayed the dog wasn’t waiting to bite me as I sat down.

Well, it sat there in the back seat, waiting for me to drive.  So I did.  I carried on a lengthy conversation with it as I drove.  I did this mainly to keep my nerves down as I figured out what I was supposed to do with a wet dog at 11 pm on Easter Sunday.  I was worried the dog was waiting for the right moment to jump on top of me and bite me or perhaps have an accident all over the interior of my car.  But it didn’t.  It just sat there. 

I headed into another city nearby—where there’s an animal hospital that is open all night.  I’m telling the dog about my own dog and some other dogs I know—and about the friendly animal hospital we are visiting.  I assure the dog we will find his parents. 

 As I pull into the animal hospital I explain to the dog that I will be right back.  I head into the hospital and open with:  “I may have lost my mind…. I never do things like this… I was driving home… there was a bad storm… and there was a lost dog… I couldn’t leave it….”

They assured me I did the right thing.  They gave me a leash and I returned to the car where the dog is waiting.  The dog is scared.  I am scared.  I try to get the leash on—but the dog decided to move to the driver’s seat.  I head to the front passenger’s seat—but am still scared of putting the leash around its neck.  I’m also scared of getting bitten. And I’m scared of fleas and ticks.  And what if it growls at me. 

I decide to embrace the inevitable.  I must get the dog out of my car with or without getting attacked.  I decided to talk to the dog who is still sitting nervously in the driver’s seat of my car.  With blind faith I picked him up.  I carried the shivering, wet dog inside the animal hospital—still talking to it assuring him it will be ok.  Oddly, between the dog and me—I think I was the braver, calmer one. 

I set him down and the vet gave him a dry towel.  It turned out the dog didn’t have a collar but he had a microchip embedded in him.  The vet explained that it will take at least a day for the microchip center to research the owner—and hopefully the microchip has current information. 

I gave the hospital all my contact information and they assured me they will do their best to find his owners.  The dog kept looking at me—as if we had bonded—I felt so sad leaving him there.  But the vet was very attentive and loving toward the dog.  He was in good hands.  They even mentioned they might take him home for the night.  I took several photos of the dog and assured him I would find his owners. 

By this time it’s midnight.  I realize that the gym is out of the question.  I decided that in the grand scheme of things—missing the gym for a second day in a row is not the end of the world.  And for this dog’s sake and the dog owners’ sake it was a necessary sacrifice. 

Sometimes events out of the norm give the right dose of perspective on what’s important.  I spent the entire day devising creative ways I could get two gym workout sessions done on Easter Sunday—of all days.  Despite all the planning and worrying—a new opportunity unfolded—as if to test my flexibility and to remind me to live in the moment and do what needs to be done.

 The Dale Carnegie principles I used:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
– How to face trouble:  
     *
As yourself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen?”
     *
Prepare to accept the worst.
     *
Try to improve on the worst.

– Cooperate with the inevitable.
Pray. 

The Dale Carnegie principle that is a work in progress for me:
– Live in ‘day-tight compartments.’

This story is to be continued…

Day 15. Try this approach when your hair gets bushwacked by enormous scissors


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 15.  April 9, 2011 
It was Saturday, January 8, 2011.  My hairdresser wasn’t available—but another stylist was willing to cut my hair.  I didn’t think it was a big deal—it’s just a short haircut—surely anyone can cut my hair.  I showed the stylist a photo of my last haircut and explained I like it short but feminine.

This woman began cutting mercilessly, with what appeared to be trimmers that are meant for yard work.  (Yes, I mildly exaggerate, but these were some large scissors my hairdresser would never use on me). 

It looked like someone trimmed my hair with hedge shears...

At this time I was still enrolled in the Dale Carnegie course.  I reviewed the principles in my head and decided I’d trust this woman to cut my hair.  She’s a professional.  But halfway into this I did remind her politely—please be sure it’s still feminine….

When she was finished—I had super short, spiked hair.  She put gel in it to make sure those spikes would stick up.  I wanted to cry.  I clung to my Carnegie principles as best I could but the look on my face gave me away. 

I kept reminding myself it’s just hair and that I will have to be patient as it grows back.  The worst that can happen is that someone mistakes me for a boy.  So I solved this problem by wearing earrings, necklaces, mascara and a headband.  I also decided that if I smile maybe people will be distracted by the smile they won’t notice the horrible haircut. 

Fast forward to Saturday April 9, 2011.   My hair is finally long enough to get it cut by my trusted hairdresser.  As I watched my hairdresser cutting with focus and precision with her small scissors I reflected on the last three months.

Ironically, the last three months have been among the best:

  • I graduated the Dale Carnegie course. 
  • I had an incredibly successful business trip where I was able to use my new skills from the Dale Carnegie course.
  • I’ve made some new contacts and new friends.
  • New opportunities have opened up for me.
  • I smiled far more than usual.

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

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:

  • Keep busy.
  • Don’t fuss about trifles.
  • Cooperate with the inevitable.
  • Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.
  • Try to profit from your losses.

By applying the principles I accepted the reality of my bad haircut and focused on other activities and other people.  By doing this the bad haircut became a trivial matter. 

So remember, if you are faced with a disappointment figure out how to use it to your advantage.  Your life will be more fulfilling because you won’t waste your time and energy blaming circumstances or people for your unhappiness.

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.