When the late Dale Carnegie released How to Win Friends and Influence People in October of 1936, the $2 book sold over 100,000 copies its first few months on store shelves. Seventy-three years and 15 million copies later, the title and its content remain timeless.
At the time of Mr. Carnegie's death on November 1, 1955, the obituary writers of the The New York Times drew the following conclusion:
Mr. Carnegie's advice for successful living might be summed up in two of his maxims: "Forget yourself; do things for others," and "Cooperate with the inevitable."
Isn't that great? Perhaps unknowingly, The New York Times was endorsing the fundamental teachings of the Gospel. Mr. Carnegie believed in losing himself in sacrificial service and finding contentment in God's will for his life.
At a time of rising unemployment, anxious and volatile financial markets and shrinking personal retirement accounts, the story of Dale Carnegie's life -- and his wisdom -- serves as an inspirational and encouraging lesson.
He was born in poverty and raised on a Missouri farm. He attended and graduated from Warrensburg State Teachers' College. His initial forays into business were miserable failures. Dragging bottom, he took a job selling bacon and soap and lard for Armour and Company in Omaha, Nebraska. As the new guy on the block, he was given a tough territory consisting of the Badlands and the Indian country of western South Dakota. To make his appointments, he traveled by freight train, stage coach and on horseback. In his free time he studied books on salesmanship, dabbled in writing and dreamed of becoming an actor. Within two years he took an unsuccessful territory and boosted it to the number one route of the company.
But he was restless and unhappy.
Despite being offered a promotion, Carnegie quit to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Once there he quickly realized he was no actor and went back to selling, this time for the Packard Motor Company. Alas, he was miserable once again. His new dream was to be a writer and a speaker -- but how to support such a far-flung goal? He decided that he would write during the day and teach a communications class at Y.M.C.A. schools in New York City at night.
When administrators refused to pay his desired salary of $2 per night, they agreed upon compensation based on a mix of commission and a percentage of the net profits. Within three years he was making $30 a night.
As it was, much of the material he taught in class would find its way into his many bestselling books.
Although he didn't write traditional "Christian" literature, Dale Carnegie was a professing believer. His worldview and creative material was clearly biblically based and inspired.
It is always interesting to read words and thoughts that were penned decades earlier. There is a tendency to think we're living in such unique times and facing such unusual circumstances. Literally speaking, we are, of course. But times and troubles tend to run in circles. This is why King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (1:9).
Mr. Carnegie's sevens rules for managing worry and stress practically illustrates the king's observation. You'll note that though the reference to General Eisenhower dates the advice to the 1940s, those of his generation were managing just as much stress as we are today.
Rule 1: Let's fill our minds with thoughts of peace, courage, health, and hope, for our life is what our thoughts make it.
Rule 2: Let's never try to get even with our enemies, because if we do we will still hurt ourselves far more than we hurt them. Let's do as General Eisenhower does: let's never waste a minute thinking (negatively) about people we don't like.
A. Instead of worrying about ingratitude, let's expect it. Let's remember that Jesus healed ten lepers in one day-and only one thanked Him. Why should we expect more gratitude than Jesus got?
B. Let's remember that the only way to find happiness is not to expect gratitude-but to give for the joy of giving.
C. Let's remember that gratitude is a "cultivated" trait; so if we want our children to be grateful, we must train them to be grateful
Rule 4: Count your blessings-not your troubles!
Rule 5: Let's not imitate others. Let's find ourselves and be ourselves, for envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide.
Rule 6: When fate hands you a lemon, let's try to make lemonade.
Rule 7: Let's forget our own unhappiness-by trying to create a little happiness for others. When you are good to others, you are best to yourself.
I hope those words encourage you as much as they do me. We are wise to take the long view of life and to put our faith and hope not in the things of this world, but in the God of the universe. He knows. He cares. He understands.