30 Days of Thanks, Day 4 – The People Who Believe in You

This Thanksgiving I am most thankful for the people that believe in me.

I think that we all forget about these people sometimes, but they are the most important people

in your life. These people genuinely see your potential and your desire for greatness. They believe that you have good character within, and that in the long run your character will win over and you will have success. These people are able to see through the short run of your mistakes, and continue to believe that you will learn and grow from them.

This type of support can come in all forms and sizes: family, friends, relationships, authoritative figures, co-workers. The main point is in that some way they encourage you to reach for greatness, and affirm that you are capable of attaining it. Think about the HR manager who believed that you would bring success to their company and hired you into your first full time position when you had little experience. So many people have had a positive impact on your life by believing in you.

These people that choose to encourage you are applying principles of positive reinforcement and effective motivation. Some of these same principles are taught in a book by Dale Carnegie, a pioneer in public speaking, interpersonal relationships and personal development. How to Win Friends and Influence People is Carnegie’s bestseller self improvement  book with 15 million copies sold since its release in 1936.

In this book, Carnegie uses examples of people who  experience  motivational success. One of Carnegie’s keys to motivation is by sticking with people through their rough patches. Some people will take the time to understand you from the inside out; they believe in your inner greatness. Appreciate these people and keep them in your life.

Everyone needs someone to they can come to in the tough times. The most supportive people in your life are there during your worst moments, in the wake of your biggest mistakes. In times of turmoil these individuals are there to listen, share in your disappointment  and then affirm that you are better, and that they expect more because they believe that your character will persevere. They acknowledge that you are not a lost cause, and that you are not defined by any one action.

My grandfather used to tell me that the best measure of a man is not the tally of his mistakes, but his response to these mistakes. I love this because it frees me up to learn in my own method and make mistakes along the way. Always speak about your desire to be better and be great and to improve so that people know where your heart is.

Choose to believe in people in as many people as you can. Believe because you remember how people influenced your life by believing in you and staying in your corner. This is a large underlying theme in How to Win Friends and Influence People. People respond better when you separate the behavior from the individual. Everyone wants to be the best they can. We all strive for personal greatness in our own ways. Realizing that everyone wants the same thing will help you to deal with people and create meaningful relationships.

My grandfather had his deal of struggles in life. I believe that part of the reason he overcame so many obstacles was the support that he received from those that were closest to him. My grandfather left this world with all of those who had always supported him feeling proud about the man that he had become. They hung with him and were rewarded by seeing him succeed . They received genuine joy that they were there for my grandfathers transformation. I will always remember him telling me that he just knew I was going to be a great and successful person. I believe him because I saw him struggle more than anyone and saw him transform into the great man that we all knew he would always be.

Remember those that believed in you and try to give this gift to as many people as you can.

I Shall Pass This Way but Once

The old saying goes:

I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

These words can be found in Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (pg. 32), but they are not originally attributed to him. Similarly, that book is not the first place I have heard this virtue. I first heard those words from my father, and have heard them repeated here in the Schipul offices.

I don’t remember the circumstances of my first exposure to this virtuous statement, though I can only imagine it was one of the many times that I failed to appreciate an opportunity for kindness. My dad sat down with me and shared “I shall pass this way but once”. He went on to explain the broader meaning of the tale. It’s not about passing through a town or place or really anything specific. It’s about every moment, every interaction, every opportunity to do good. It’s not about buying gifts or planning celebrations. It’s all about the little ways you can show kindness, much like those Liberty Mutual commercials.

It’s easy to glamorize doing good things, to fantasize about writing huge checks or volunteering every weekend somewhere or even just planning special events for your family every night. But this message is about doing much less and achieving much more than those things. It’s the tiny, seemingly insignificant things that you can do to help someone else out that can matter so much more to them. You don’t have to spend money or give all your time, you just need to act in a good and kind nature.

But this is only the first half of the message. The latter portion is a bit more intimidating. As we grow older, we begin to recognize the missed opportunities of our past. I’m only 25 and I can count stacks of occasions, of moments, when I could have been better. As my father explained to me, life comes with thousands of opportunities, but you only get one shot at each one. I can’t go back in time and hold the elevator for the woman I can hear walking down the hallway. I can’t go back and offer to clean the dishes from a meal that I did not have to cook myself. Each opportunity presents itself only once, and we must seize each as an opportunity to show kindness.

Thanks Dad, for reminding me often that I shall pass this way but once.

Why Dale Carnegie Would Be an Awesome Blogger…

“Did you ever stop to think that a dog is the only animal that doesn’t have to work for a living? A hen has to lay eggs, a cow has to give milk, and a canary has to sing. But a dog makes his living by giving you nothing but love.” ‘Dale Carnegie

A few full moons and a gibbous ago, my boss Aaron Long handed me a book to read, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. My first thought was, “Does this silly elf think I have no friends? The nerve!”

On that note, name-calling does not get you friends. Instead, it will give you a cafeteria table all to yourself, unlimited movie nights alone, and ample time to catch up with your imaginary friends named Toffice and Skidmore. Livin’ the dream right? But I digress….

Come to find out, elves have terrific taste, and I haven’t put the book down since the waning gibbous moon.

So who is Dale Carnegie and why do I believe that if he was still alive and kickin’, he would be one of the greatest bloggers of our time? Dale Carnegie is your classic rags to riches tale. Grew up on a farm in Missouri, walked uphill to and from school, became a public speaking teacher, wrote a book blah blah blah. Don’t get me wrong, the man’s life is one to be marveled at. But more importantly, he lived his life with a genuine interest in other people. He realized the value in this notion and put it on paper to benefit humanity. I kid you not, after reading his book I answered all my phone calls with a huge smile, listened attentively during conversations and proceeded to rescue every stray dog that came in my path. No cats though. I have built up animosity towards them due to all the “deposits” they leave in my backyard on a daily basis. I didn’t say Carnegie’s book made me perfect ok?

What I am saying is if Carnegie was still around, I would invite him to come have a beer, watch a Dallas Cowboys football game, and discuss his latest blog on why “a man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” So without further a due, here are the top 5 reasons why Dale Carnegie would be an awesome blogger:

  1. Even in 1936, Carnegie’s network of friends was unparalleled. Imagine discussing Pearl Harbor while sipping tea with Franklin D. Roosevelt, running lines with Clark Gable, sailing the Pacific with Martin Johnson or debating the manufacture of steel with Charles Schwab. Granted the locations are questionable due to my vivid imagination, but Carnegie’s connection with these prominent figures were real. A successful blog has an immense following…Carnegie had this following without [gasp] the internet.   Carnegie discovered from personal experience that “one can win the attention and time and cooperation of even the most sought after people by becoming genuinely interested in them.”
  2. Carnegie wrote stories…excellent stories. He knew how to “bait the hook to suit the fish” if you will. Aren’t blogs essentially a compilation of news, recent happenings, daily occurrences, and stories? Alright then, I rest my case.
  3. Remembering people’s names was of utmost priority for Carnegie. This leads me to believe that he would have done quite well on a network such as Twitter; @dcarnGmoney perhaps? Responding to people by their name, replying on Twitter, and commenting on blog posts once again reinforces Carnegie’s idea that if you take interest in someone they will take interest in you. Why not give a little smile and a wink while you’re at it, even if it’s only an emoticon. We all know Carnegie would have ;-).
  4. Dale Carnegie “hustled.” To put it simply, he worked his derrière off. Carnegie started with a set of rules on a note-card; evolving fifteen years later into a best-selling book and continues to influence people decades later. Over 15 million copies of his book have been sold and if there was a way to configure that into number of followers on a blog I would. I’m no scientist but I’m sure the data would be staggering. Modernly speaking, “…you too can have 70,000+ readers and write your own ticket to internet fame’ but it won’t happen by playing World of Warcraft every night.” Chris Guillebeau, “How to Be Awesome”
  5. In the words of someone who truly understood the art of human relations, Carnegie said“…the royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things that he or she treasures most.” I don’t think I need to thump you on the head to understand this one. Carnegie would have been an awesome blogger.

*I also feel he had excellent music taste but I will leave that for another day.

Thanks Mexicanwave for the cool flickr pic!