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Dale Carnegie Course Review – Session 2

Session 2 of the Dale Carnegie course focused on remembering.  Specifically, we learned techniques for remembering names and lists of items.

For remembering names, we learned to create mental scenes that sound like the name.  It’s important to make the scene vivid and ridiculous.  The more outrageous and animated, the easier it is to remember.  It’s also important to picture the person in the scene.  This way, the person’s face will call up the ridiculous scene that sounds like the name.

It’s best to make the scenes ridiculous and silly.  For example, if I met someone named Janice Madison, I might imagine her with her face bright yellow, screaming at her son.  I would think of jaundice and that she’s mad at her son.  Janice Madison would come to me quickly.

We also learned to use ‘peg’ words for remembering lists of items.  Each number in the list gets a silly image where you can place the item you want to remember.  For example, the seven image is an escalator rising to heaven.  Imagine the seventh item in the list tumbling down that escalator.  The four image is a revolving door.  Imagine your fourth item stuck in that door, holding up traffic.

I have to confess, I don’t employ these techniques myself.  I tried them, but I found that by the time I made up a scene, I could have the info written down.  My limited brainpower is too precious to spend on remembering stuff I can write.  I compensate by warning everybody I meet that I’ll forget their name.  Later when I do, I say, “I told you so.”  They always seem to take it well.

I also should admit I’ve seen impressive memory demonstrations where folks employing these techniques can remember dozens of items and names they’ve just encountered.  So give it a try; it may work better for you than me.

To close the session, we each gave a short speech about an important, defining moment in our lives.  Our instructor gave each of us some positive feedback.  The class voted on the outstanding performance, and the winner got a prize.

Carnegie Session 1

Carnegie Session 3

Dale Carnegie Course Review – Session 1

Session 1 of the Dale Carnegie course was very much as I expected. There were about a dozen attendees, one instructor, and one assistant. We talked about different personality types and different things we can do to help us get along better with other people. We covered techniques for making conversation, remembering names, and making small talk. I’d heard most of the material before (probably from reading Carnegie or something similar), but I was very glad to have a venue for practice.

I learned one technique for small talk that I’ve since used with some success. You can remember it via the acronym FORM: Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Message. Almost anyone likes to talk about their family, their work, and their hobbies (Family, Occupation, Recreation). The Message is just the subject at hand – why are you both here.

If you find yourself at a loss for what to say to someone, remember FORM.

Carnegie Session 2

Dale Carnegie Course Review

Earlier this year, I attended the Dale Carnegie course. In case you’re not familiar, Dale Carnegie was the author of the bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People. He began teaching this course in 1912, and it’s been gradually refined since then. It’s all about getting along with other people, managing stress, and working with enthusiasm. There are typically 10-30 attendees. It’s usually about 12 3 hour sessions spread over 12 weeks. It consists of group exercises, reading, and speaking.

I’d thought about attending for some time. Last year I saw a list of former attendees and that cinched it for me. Scott Adams was recommending it, and I learned that Warren Buffett also recommended it. There are many more Carnegie graduates that I admire, and I knew if I learned this stuff it would put me in good company.

I began looking for reviews of the course so I would know what to expect. I couldn’t find anything, so I decided to write a summary each week so I could report on the experience. Stay tuned here for those reviews.

Carnegie Session 1

The first step to reaching your goals

I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific. Jane Wagner

Here’s a fun exercise.  The next time you hear someone complaining about their lousy job, ask them what job they want.  More than likely you won’t get an answer.  If someone’s complaining about their weight, ask them how much they want to weigh.  I bet they don’t have a number.  It works for income, net worth, just about anything.  Often, when someone’s dissatisfied with some area of their life, they’ve never bothered to articulate exactly what they want.  They’re just going along, going through the motions, accepting life’s defaults.  Then, they’re surprised when their results are less than they’d like.

Leaves vs Fish

In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it. Robert Heinlein

Without goals, we’re floating down a river in a boat with no paddle.  We’re at the mercy of the current.  We end up wherever it takes us.

When we set goals, we pick up a paddle.  We don’t have to ride the current anymore.  We can decide what we want and where we want to go.  We can begin making decisions and taking action to get what we want on purpose, instead of settling for what we get by default.

The First Step

The first step toward reaching goals is often neglected, but it’s indispensable.  Without it, we’ll just keep on floating along, meandering wherever the current takes us.

The first step to reaching your goals is setting your goals.

The Cure for Scarcity Mentality

One of the worst afflictions I know of is a scarcity mentality.  People with this disease think that resources are scarce.  In their mind, one person’s gain comes at the expense of everyone else.  To them, the world is a big pie.  If you get a big slice, it must mean a reduction in their slice.

Another word for this disease is coveting.  Its symptoms are envy, jealousy, and greed.  It’s harmful to the person who thinks this way, and it’s harmful to the people around them.

We all know people like this.  They resent others’ success.  Other people’s achievements cause them stress.  They spend their time and energy dragging everyone else down.  They complain about ‘rich people’.  They delight in others’ misfortune.  They often blame their own problems on others.

And you know what else?  They are you and me.  That’s right – we all practice this thinking from time to time.  It’s easier to spot in others, but we’re all guilty.

The good news is that it’s treatable.  In fact, we’ve had the cure for thousands of years.  It was prescribed by the Great Physician.

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.  And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors.  But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.  For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

Luke 22: 24-27

Here we find the disciples arguing over who is the greatest.  Notice that scarcity thinking – evaluating one’s own worth in comparison to others. And what does Jesus prescribe?  Service.

How can I help others?  How can I render more service?  This attitude is the cure for scarcity mentality. As we provide more service, the pie grows. As the pie grows, it’s inevitable that those creating value through service will receive more of it. It’s true whether the pie represents money, energy, knowledge, or goodwill.

One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.  Albert Schweitzer

Five Minute Deals

One of the keys to achieving positive results in any long term endeavor is overcoming inertia.  Sometimes it’s just so tough to get off the couch and begin!  There are always a dozen reasons to put it off, twenty things that can go wrong, and a handful of things more urgent.  We tell ourselves, “Tomorrow I won’t be so tired” or “This day’s already shot” or “I can make this up another day”.

The problem is these excuses form habits.  If I use an excuse to cheat myself out of a workout today, it’s even easier to cheat tomorrow.  If I neglect a chore today in favor of some nonsense TV, I can find an even better excuse tomorrow.

I’m paranoid about developing a procrastination habit.  If I miss a workout, I worry much more about the effects on my character than the effects on my health.  To overcome procrastination, I often employ the five minute deal.

If I have something I need to do but don’t want to, I make a deal with myself.  I’ll do it for five minutes; after five minutes, if I still don’t want to, I can stop.  The hardest step (getting started) is behind me, and it’s easier to continue than to stop.  I’ve made inertia work for me instead of against me.

I can’t number the times I’ve employed this tactic, but I know the number of times it’s failed me is zero.  Without exception, when I muster the discipline to begin, the end is inevitable.

Do you have some task requiring a five minute deal?

Pick Your Battles

Jonathan Kozol said, “Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.” This is something I’ve been working on lately. Do you know people who have a habit of making mountains of mole hills (I’m guilty myself)? They may be a perfectionist and expect the same of others. Or they may be drama royalty, where every problem is a crisis. Either way, it creates problems for them.

Perfectionists waste a lot of time. I’ve been guilty of this too often. So many times I’ve completed a task to everyone’s satisfaction but my own. Some little nonsense detail (completely invisible and irrelevant to everyone else) would annoy me and sap my energy. I’d spend excessive time on it with no benefit to show for it. To overcome this, I’m making an effort to actively practice the 80/20 rule.

Drama royalty spend their credibility too fast. Fax machine’s down? Raise hell! Call the company president! Out of coffee? Complain loudly to anyone who will listen. Call a meeting to solve it. There are only so many times they can cry wolf over nonsense like this before people stop taking them seriously. They spend all their credibility calling attention to non-problems, and when a real crisis occurs, they have no way to escalate it.

A bonus negative to this behavior is it’s contagious. These people in perpetual crisis mode sap the energy of everyone around them by working them into a frenzy.

I’ve resolved to pick my battles more carefully. There are 24 hours in every day, and I intend to spend them meeting my goals, not thrashing about on non-issues.

Are you fighting battles you could let go?

Progress Plateaus

I often find myself frustrated with progress plateaus.  Whether it’s exercise, self discipline, finances, or any area I’m actively improving – at times I reach a point when my progress pauses.  I’ve gotten stuck on the way to net worth, income, weight, running time and speed, strength, and discipline goals.  For those of us who are goal-driven, this can be maddening.

To retain sanity during one of these plateau periods, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

It’s normal and necessary to plateau.  You need plateau periods to rest and to create foundations on which to build further progress.  If you didn’t plateau during strength training, your muscles would outpace your skeleton – possibly leading to injury.  If you didn’t encounter weight loss plateaus, your metabolism might fall out of balance.

Altering technique can help you jump off the plateau.  If you find yourself stuck on 2 miles of running, try temporarily adjusting your speed or your incline.  Can’t get past 50 crunches?  Try leg lifts for a week.  Can’t drop that extra five pounds?  Vary meal times a couple of weeks.  A variation in technique can prompt your body or mind to jump off the plateau and continue to progress.

Plateaus require double discipline.  It’s easier to eat right when you see the weight dropping.  Anyone can save when you can see your account balance climbing.  It’s when the progress pauses that you need discipline.  You need to anticipate the plateau and determine to work your way through it.  This is the time where persistence will make the difference.

What plateaus have you experienced?