How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

It’s been around 3 months since I published my previous blog post. I went back home to Taiwan for three weeks to attend my friend’s wedding and also spent a couple of days in Korea to visit my family there. After I returned to Toronto, I’ve started to get back to my usual routine this past month and I’m happy to be back.

How to Win Friends & Influence People is a book I read around 2 months ago. It’s harder to recall the details of the book but it also gives me a better idea of what I took away. After reviewing my notes, I remember that I find the book a bit dragged out with examples that often illustrate the principles in the best-case scenarios. To clarify I do believe the examples did indeed happen, it’s just that the outcome of some of the examples can easily be undesired under different circumstances.

All in all, I do find the book filled with many principles everyone can use and learn from. If you practice the principles it teaches, it can definitely be a very impactful book.

Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers

If you involve someone in the decision-making process, you will get better buy-in from that person. And if you let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers, the person will champion it.

This does not mean you should try to trick someone into coming up with an idea they don’t believe in. Instead, ask questions to help them see different perspectives that they might not have considered. They might end up with a different idea than you do and that’s ok. When a team is brainstorming ideas, the goal is to come up with the best decision possible.

In a performance-driven society where demonstrating your value can be the key to a promotion or a raise, you might think twice before giving other people credit for your idea. I’ll say try to help others grow, share the credit, contribute to a better work environment, and most likely, things will work out for you. 🙂

Throw down a challenge

For my 2019 resolutions, I’ve set weekly goals for me to accomplish. For example, I had practicing piano for 30 minutes 3 times a week as a weekly goal. It has helped me to keep my focus and to make incremental progress consistently.

Seeing the effects it had on myself, I’ve started to throw down challenges for my friends and colleagues. Usually, the conversation will start with a desire to achieve something. I’ll follow up with “when are you going to start doing this then?” This is very helpful to get people to start thinking about how their goal can be accomplished or for them to start listing out the reasons which prevent them from accomplishing it. Often times, the reasons listed are solvable. For example, the reason for not starting kickboxing can be having a foot injury. I’ll then follow up with questions such as “when will you fully recover?” and “when will you start rehabbing on a daily basis?” When you are trying to motivate people to accomplish their goals, the key is to get people to commit to an actionable step with a specific timeline.

Commitment secured! But don’t stop there! You want to help others achieve their goals. Remember to follow up and encourage. If a commitment is set for Thursday, ask the person to set up a phone reminder or even check up yourself. And when the person is able to deliver on their commitments, be happy for them and let them know about it.

Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to

Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to. This might sound counterintuitive as we often heard quotes such as respect is earned. However, if someone is given a reputation as a hard worker, the person will be incentivized to work harder to not let down the team and his own reputation. By giving others a fine reputation, you are also more likely to get him to listen to any constructive feedback you might have.

“the average person,” said Samuel Vauclain, then president of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, “can be led readily if you have his or her respect and if you show that you respect that person for some kind of ability.”

So rather than only giving people credit after they’ve earned it, try giving them a fine reputation to live up to until they have shown that it’s not warranted.

Summary

This is not a book I would recommend as I’m not a fan of the writing style. However, it is filled with principles that are beneficial when you practice them so I can see why this book is so popular. The principles it teaches definitely bring a lot of value so please don’t let me discourage you from reading it. 🙂

Have you read this book? And is there any book you would recommend? I’ll love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson

We are constantly reminded of people’s opinions of us. It can be well-intentioned expectations from our family and friends or non-constructive criticisms from complete strangers. With the prevalence of social media, it not only opens up a floodgate to others’ opinions of our publicized thoughts but it also shows a glimpse of how others are doing in their lives. The effects of this can be harmless and at times even beneficial, however, it is when we give others’ opinions too much weight or use people’s life updates as a measurement to compare ourselves against where it can become extremely detrimental.

Focus on What’s Meaningful to You

To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action.

There are always things that can be better, which naturally means there are always problems that we can solve. With all the problems that we have, it can feel overwhelming at times with our limited time and energy. So narrow down on what is important and meaningful to you for you to focus on.

Another key to getting less bothered by problems is the ability to put things into perspective. Many problems we face are upgraded problems that other people are dealing with. Not having healthy food options can be seen as an upgraded problem of not having enough food to eat. Not having enough food to eat can be seen as an upgraded problem of struggling to find food to stay off of starvation. These are all very important problems that are worth solving, but the point is that the mindset you have can greatly affect your experience in working through that problem.

The more things that you care about, the more things that can affect you. So make sure to “give a fuck” to what is truly meaningful to you.

Our Struggles Determine Our Success

Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who run triathlons and have chiseled abs and can bench press a small house.

This is my favorite line of the book. To be great in any industry, the work is done in your preparation. For example, to be an NBA star player, it’s not only about enjoying playing basketball games. There are numerous people in the world that not only enjoy playing basketball but also have the talent to go along with it. However, the NBA players that stand out in the league are those who are willing to struggle through the process of dedicating thousands of hours in the gym to perfect their craft and their conditioning, analyzing game tapes to see what can be done better, studying and understanding plays, and the list goes on.

The work involved in the preparation is oftentimes redundant and even boring. You don’t have to enjoy every or even any part of it, but you need to be willing to sustain it. So if you want to be great at a given profession, it’s not only about considering the performance aspect of it but also thinking about whether you are willing to put in and sustain the work required. The work you put into night in and night out will determine who you become, so choose and develop the habits that will lead you to where you want to go.

Summary

Mark Mason teaches important lessons on how to focus on what’s meaningful to lead a happier life. I didn’t enjoy the book because I was already familiar with the key takeaways. However, Mark is engaging in the way he writes and the content can be very beneficial for those who feel overwhelmed by the problems they are facing. Here’s where you can get the book if you are interested.

Have you read this book? And is there any book you would recommend? I’ll love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

I’m currently reading Upheaval by Jared Diamond.

 

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck

When I first came across Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, it did not pique my interest. The book cover is dull and the title seems to suggest it’s one of those books that simply elaborates on widely known concepts. However, wanting to order one more book, I added it to my online cart since the book cover shows a recommendation from Bill Gates. And if Bill Gates recommends it, then it can’t be all that bad right?

After reading the book’s introduction, my initial perception was further reinforced. Growth mindset is about believing people can develop their abilities and fixed mindset is about believing people are born with fixed traits. A growth mindset can help you fulfill your potential whereas a fixed mindset will hinder it. An entire book on this fundamental concept seems too dragged out to me. “At least it’s a short book that I can practice speed reading with” so I thought.

After the initial pages, this book quickly drew me in. The concept is indeed simple to grasp. However, the application of it and its impact on our daily lives is not something that I was actively conscious of. It helps you understand how people behave the way they do at times and how you can possibly help yourself as well as others in fulfilling their potential.

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others.

When you adopt a growth mindset, it changes how you approach challenges and setbacks. Failure is no longer an indication of who you are because it doesn’t measure who you can become. It’s merely feedback for you to reflect on what you can improve on. Challenges are no longer something you fear but something you cherish, because the more challenging a task is, the more room there is for you to learn and improve.

Whereas when you have a fixed mindset, you believe people have fixed traits. Failures are therefore feared upon since if your abilities are fixed, failures are not a reflection of how you did but a measurement of what you can do. A fixed mindset also makes effort disagreeable. If you are smart and you try your best, are you really that smart if you still fail? It is common to hear at exam centers people saying how little they studied and how unprepared they are. Sometimes it almost seems like it’s a competition to see who is the most unprepared. I’m guilty of doing so in the past myself. Although some people are indeed more gifted than others at a given subject, your talent is not an indication of your performance. We all know people who did great not because of any special talent, but because of their relentless effort on improving themselves.

At this point, you might be categorizing yourself either as having a growth mindset or a fixed mindset and probably the former since people tend to view themselves in a positive light. However, people can and usually do have different mindsets in different areas. This is evident when it comes to artistic abilities. Students might have a growth mindset when they are studying for subjects like history, chemistry, or math. But when it comes to artistic abilities like drawing, the word talent is very often thrown around. Yet experiments have shown that you can greatly improve your drawing skills if you learn how to see. So when you are shying away from challenges next time, think to yourself whether you are falling into a fixed mindset.

Keep in mind that the growth mindset is not only on how you view yourself but on how you view others as well. By having a growth mindset towards other people, you will be more willing to put in the effort to help them. Your peers might be underperforming now, but you know they can develop their abilities if they put in the effort. And if you are in a leadership position, don’t be too controlling and abusive as it can put your team into a fixed mindset. Make sure you foster a safe environment where people can make mistakes and learn from it without being judged.

The Danger of Positive Labels

When stereotypes are evoked, they fill people’s minds with distracting thoughts – with secret worries about conforming to stereotype.

The impact of negative labels is clear. You might get discouraged, get down on yourself, or subconsciously conform to the negative labels put on you. It still happens all the time, but the negative impact is clear which makes it easily avoidable.

When it comes to positive labels such as “You are brilliant for acing the exam!” and “Look at that beautiful portrait you did! You are so talented!”, people give out these praises without second thoughts since it usually makes people who receive them happy. What people fail to realize is when you praise someone on their talent over their effort, you are also putting pressure on the person to not fail. Since if their superior results is due to their talent, then they should keep on delivering superior results as the talent won’t just suddenly disappear. And if their performance is due to their talent, then why do they need to put in the effort?

Rather than praising someone on their talent, praise their effort instead. “Look at that beautiful portrait you did! Your hard work really paid off!”. Doing so will reinforce the value of putting in the hard work. And when they fail, it’s no longer because of who they are but about the additional effort they can put in to improve the result.

Praising people’s effort is great, but you only do it when they do put in the effort. Say your kid aces a challenge without putting in any effort. Instead of praising their effort, you can say “this question seems too easy for you, sorry let me find a harder question that will really allow you to learn”. This will teach the kid the importance of learning.

Relationships

Remember how hard it is for people with the fixed mindset to forgive? Part of it is that they feel branded by a rejection or breakup. But another part is that if they forgive the partner, if they see him or her as a decent person, then they have to shoulder more of the blame themselves. If my partner’s a good guy, then I must be a bad guy. I must be the person who was at fault.

When you are in a long term relationship, you will eventually get into disagreements with your partner. If you have a fixed mindset on either your partner or the relationship, then you will probably not believe that the relationship can be improved. And if a relationship cannot be improved, then no effort will be put towards trying to fix the problem. People with a fixed mindset will start assigning blame. They might blame themselves but often they blame their partner instead. And as time goes on, they see the problems as their partner’s character flaws.

The belief that partners have the potential for change should not be confused with the belief that the partner will change. The partner has to want to change, commit to change, and take concrete actions toward change.

When you have a growth mindset, you believe that you and your partner can improve and fix the relationship. It enables you to focus on the problem and to work with your partner towards a solution.

Summary

Carol S. Dweck is a world-renowned Stanford University psychologist. The mindset concept is simple but it is the various applications on our daily lives that makes it very insightful. I highly recommend people to give this book a read. It can have a profound impact on you as well as those around you.

Have you read this book? And is there any book you would recommend? I’ll love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

I’m currently reading Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari.