Friday, July 3, 2009

Bring out the best in others

Recently, we have been reading excerpts from one of our favorite books, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Even though the title itself makes it sound like friends are prizes that you win in a contest, the content of the book is full of great substance and wisdom on how to build people and strengthen relationships.

The author poses this question: "Why did [American steel tycoon] Andrew Carnegie pay a million dollars a year, (back when a million dollars was worth even a lot more than it is today), or more than three thousand dollars a day to Charles Schwab? Why? Because he was a genius? No. Because he knew more about steel manufacturing than other people? Nonsense." As president of Carnegie Steel Company, Schwab said that he was paid this salary because of his ability to deal with people. Schwab considered his ability to inspire enthusiasm to be the greatest asset he possessed. He suggested that by appreciation and encouragement, we help develop the best in others.

Dale Carnegie quotes Schwab as saying that nothing can kill the ambitions of a person more than getting criticism from their superiors. Schwab believed that no good ever comes from criticism; instead, he found ways to give people an incentive to improve and do better.

So often we do the opposite when dealing with people in our lives. It is easy to find fault with the people we live with and associate with at work. Too often, the good things they do go unacknowledged. Schwab said that in his wide association with all kinds of people all over the world, he had yet to find the person, however great or accomplished, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval rather than criticism.

These words were a good reminder to us to focus on the positive behavior of those around us and try to bring about positive change. After all, we are in the people business, aren't we? Whether as distributors, leaders, parents, or CEOs, we are all involved in the great work of Together, Building People®.

Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People. 1936, 22-23.