Guest Blogger Marie Bleu: ‘I played the Dale Carnegie version of “Follow the Leader” in my household of 7 children under the age of 12.’

By Marie Bleu

Oh, the irony of it all.  Immediately after speaking with the Smiling Daffodil today about the possibility of writing a guest blog, my husband called.  I greeted him cheerfully and asked about his day.  He was calling to let me know he had returned early from his business trip and that he would be home in a few hours.  Originally, he was not due to arrive until after the children’s bedtime (translation: when things have quieted down and the little ones have stopped making messes.)

My husband is the type that likes a clean house, and as a home schooling family with seven children under the age of 12, the atmosphere of our house usually fluctuates between organized chaos and brink of disaster.  So, outwardly I expressed my joy at his early arrival, while internally I went into overdrive—“How can we possibly get this place organized and dinner on the table before he comes home?!”

Even though I’m a newcomer to this blog and have only just begun to read the books, I’ve been learning a lot, and I find myself trying to implement the Dale Carnegie principles.  As a mother, I have many opportunities every day to incorporate his strategies, but today provided a better example than usual.

Rather than flip out so that I’m yelling, complaining, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, accomplishing very little except getting everyone else stressed (my usual approach), I went through the 3-step process to overcome worry.  Okay, so he could come home to a messy house.  It wouldn’t be the first time, but I wanted to create happiness for him, so how could I improve what lies around me?  Little progress had been made on chores, even though 5 of the children had supposedly been working on them for hours.  When I got off the phone, some were working, some standing around idly, some tattling, and some crying.  After trying my best to get the younger ones enthusiastic about making it nice for daddy and meeting with no success, I decided the best I could do was to not let anyone take away my happiness and to work hard and set a good example.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles by The Smiling Daffodil

A few minutes after I made this decision, “Imelda” came and asked if she could do a chore for her sister “Maggie,” so that Maggie could finish a special project she was working on.  A little later, my persistent example helped to cheer “Teresa,” who had been discouraged by the lack of cooperation from the others.  The domino effect is amazing. J  The house, though not spotless, was drastically improved and dinner was on the table when we ran to welcome daddy at the door with smiles and hugs.

Hence, even though another child “Georgie” was having a rough evening and kept frustrating the efforts of others, by the grace of God and a steely determination, I was able to keep smiling and preserve my own peace of mind and soul…even when my husband told me that the coworker he was with for two days had the stomach flu.  (Has anyone had the pleasure of emptying buckets all night long for a large family?)

The principles I used today are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
How to face trouble:

  1. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
  2. Prepare to accept the worst.
  3. Try to improve on the worst.

From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 1.  Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Principle 28.  Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Thank you Marie Bleu for sharing your story!  You did not panic from receiving the news that your husband was due to arrive in a few hours.  You also didn’t scold your children for taking too long on their chores.   Instead you led by example by remaining calm, focused and cheerful.  This gave your children a fine reputation to live up to so that they would be disinclined to spend their time fussing, fighting or avoiding their chores altogether. 

The lesson in this story:  If you want to motivate people to do or behave in a certain manner you need to set the example.  When you take this approach you’ll be amazed by how much can get accomplished  with fewer complaints.  

- The Smiling Daffodil

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