Personal Development

The leader in you

The leader in you

One-sentence summary of “The leader in you”: In this book, Dale Carnegie presents 16 fundamental and easy to apply principles to identify and develop people’s qualities as a leader. Personal and professional success guaranteed!

By Dale Carnegie, 1995, 205 pages, improved version by Stuart R. Levine and Michael A. Crom

Chronicle and summary of “The leader in you”

Introduction: The human-relations revolution

This is a book by Dale Carnegie, known worldwide as a global leader in lifelong training in management, communication, leadership, sales and public speaking. Since the death of Dale Carnegie in 1955, this book, like all his other books is regularly updated and improved by his network of professional trainers and the members of his company Dale Carnegie & Associates.

Who are the leaders of tomorrow?

A company can no longer be run “with a whip” from the director’s chair.

To succeed in the years to come, organisations, businesses, administrations and associations are going to have to face profound cultural change. This cultural change requires a new type of leader. A different leader from the bosses we knew before. Perhaps we even became those bosses.

For Dale Carnegie, the leaders of tomorrow must:

  • Have a genuine vision and a set of values for their organisation;
  • Communicate and motivate others more effectively;
  • Keep a clear mind despite constant change.

What makes the difference for Dale Carnegie is not so much the analytical capabilities of people, because that is a given. The difference is the ability to listen.

In the end, winners and losers are not separated by their computer or technical ability. The winners will be companies with intelligent and creative leaders able to interact, communicate and motivate effectively inside their business and with the outside world.

Therefore, for Dale Carnegie, businesses that understand, starting today, that service and human relations are a strategic factor, will beat the others in the future. Nevertheless, this means that the leaders are going to have to train:

Good human relations have the power to change managers into leaders. […] They can learn to change: to guide rather than to lead, to contribute rather than to resist, to share rather than to keep, to take risks rather than to remain passive, to consider staff not as an expense but as a resource.

Dale Carnegie’s goal: to reveal the leader that lies inside each one of us!

When Dale Carnegie arrived in New York in 1912, he got a job at a YMCA in New York teaching an evening class on public speaking. Over the seasons, and with experience, Dale Carnegie broadened his teaching to include basic skills in personal development and in human relations. These included how to communicate more effectively, to create a dynamic and develop leadership skills, to better motivate and build interpersonal relationships…

Try to see things from the point of view of your interlocutor, he told his students. Offer honest and sincere compliments. Take a genuine interest in others.

After fifteen years of experimentation, Dale Carnegie gathered all his principles of human relations. He put them in a book published in 1936 that went on to achieve global success: “How to win friends and influence people”. (In 2014, a new version came out called “How to win friends in the digital age“). It is a clear and practical guide to making friends and building better and more effective relationships with other people.

With nearly forty million copies sold worldwide, “How to win friends is one of the biggest selling books in the entire history of publishing. Translated into dozens of languages, it still sells very well today.

To broadcast his ideas about training in communication and human relations all over the world, Dale Carnegie wrote several books and founded a company called “Dale Carnegie & Associates”. Through a network of lifelong training, this company continues to spread his ideas since the death of Dale Carnegie. They include developing skills for effective communication and learning how to motivate others to take action. They also include identifying a dynamic leader in each of us or learning how to speak in public.

Chapter 1 – Finding the leader in you

1.1 – From traditional management to modern leadership

Up until recently, the boss was the boss. He gave the orders. Orders came down from on high to those who executed them. Managers sat in their offices and managed whatever they could. Back in the day, this management was sufficient. The environment was more predictable and the world was a simpler place. Nowadays, everything is too volatile, too changeable for this kind of simple and traditional “management”.

What we need is leadership: to help everyone succeed in what he or she is capable of achieving, to establish a vision for the future, to encourage and guide, to forge and maintain successful relationships.

1.2 – Visionary leaders

For a number of successful entrepreneurs, a leader must first and foremost have a mental image of a future that is possible and desirable for his or her business. This image, which we will call “a vision”, may be blurry like a dream or precise like a goal or a company project. The essential thing is that it expresses “the attractive prospect of a realistic, credible future for the company, a future that is better than the existing situation in more ways than one”.

1.3 – Identify your skills, don’t imitate others!

For Dale Carnegie, the best leadership techniques are those that we cultivate inside ourselves.

This often requires finding out who we really are. To do this, we must first ask ourselves about the skills that can be useful to us as a leader. Then, whatever our qualities as a leader, Dale Carnegie advises us to allow them to flourish in our role as a leader, and not seek to copy anyone else.

1.4 – Leadership by example

Dale Carnegie believes in leadership by example. According to him, action speak much louder than words. In this, the leader must set standards and respect them.

For Dale Carnegie:

Determined, confident leadership turns a vision into reality.

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

The first decisive step towards success: Identify your qualities as a leader.

Chapter 2 – Starting to communicate

For years, having a loud voice was regarded as strength of character, stubbornness was superior knowledge and the ability to impose your point of view was honesty. Let us rejoice – managers or employees, parents or children, teachers or students – those days are gone.

Nowadays, we know how essential it is to communicate well in our professional and personal lives.

According to Dale Carnegie, our relational faculties are stimulating for others. They are what will allow us to turn a big idea into action. To summarise, this is what makes “everything possible” for him.

There is no miracle recipe when it comes to learning how to communicate. However, there are several concepts that it is essential to master for successful communication.

2.1 – Make communication your absolute priority

Even if we are very busy during our working day, Dale Carnegie invites us to really take the time to communicate. This requires:

  • Remaining open and available to others.
  • Creating an environment that is conducive to exchanges.
  • Keeping the lines of communication open constantly.
  • Exposing your ideas to others and listening to theirs: many managers do not understand that communication is a two-way street.

2.2 – Be available to others, whether they are your superiors, subordinates or colleagues

Regardless of the importance that you take on, communication must continue “in all directions, up, down and around the hierarchical lines.”

Richard L. Fenstermacher, Director of Marketing at Ford, believes strongly in this:

He is always telling his employees “My door is always open! If you see me in here when you walk down the hall, come in, even if it is simply to say hello. If you have a suggestion to make, make it. Don’t believe you have to follow the organisational lines.”

2.3 – Create an environment of trust that is conducive to dialogue

Dale Carnegie tells a lot of stories that are examples to show us what does and does not work. The main ideas that emerge in order to create this receptive environment are:

  • Be available,
  • Like people and show them that you like them,
  • Demonstrate simplicity and humility (we are all the same, whatever our level, simply doing different jobs),
  • Make other people comfortable,
  • Do not do anything to discourage someone from venturing to talk to you again. When someone takes a risk and says what they think, they should not be punished for being frank.

According to Dale Carnegie, communication is in reality both a skill and a form of art. It is a process that deserves thought and training. It sometimes requires us to expose ourselves when we expose our ideas.

Share with others and ask them to share with you.

What to retain at the end of this chapter:

Communication is built on relationships of mutual confidence

Chapter 3 – Motivating people

What you have to do is take the time to include others in your thoughts, your vision, your dream, your fantasy… in everything you do. Get them on board. This requires time, effort and constant support. Do not impose – motivate! If you genuinely motivate someone, you will see a transformation. You change the attitude of someone into a person capable of motivating ten other people.

For Dale Carnegie, the only way to get someone to do something is to make them want to do it.

That is why it is essential to give people a goal. People have to feel that they are working towards a goal that is worthwhile. This objective must be important for the person and for us.

This is where genuine motivation comes from:

Not just doing your job, but the desire to excel.

3.1 – Demonstrate trust, respect and attention

Value your employees. Welcome them. Encourage them. Train them. Ask their opinion. Congratulate them. Let them make decisions. Share successes with them. Ask for their input and follow it when you can. Make them understand that you value them. Encourage them to take risks. Give them the freedom to work in their own way and show your faith in their capability by not getting involved. In other words, demonstrate trust, respect and attention towards your employees. Do this and you will find yourself surrounded by motivated people.

For Dale Carnegie, it is vital to respect and integrate employees to the vision of the company. They have to be on board. It is essential that they take a genuine interest in their professional life. Their successes will be rewarded, valued and celebrated, while their failures will be handled with caution.

Once this fundamental principle is accepted and understood, it is easy to find all kinds of techniques to motivate the staff of a company. They will rely on the three basic principles, which are:

  1. Employees must be involved in the whole process and at every stage. The key to this involvement is teamwork, not a top-down approach.
  2. It is vital to make employees feel important and to demonstrate respect towards them. They are people first, and employees after.
  3. When the work is of a high quality, it should be encouraged, highlighted and rewarded.

Everyone acts in relation to what is expected of them. If you treat other people as capable and intelligent, if you allow them to act, then that is exactly what they will do.

3.2 – Get your employees involved

Leader who succeed these days are those who:

  • Train teams;
  • Involve their staff in every stage of the working process (creation, manufacture, storage, marketing…)
  • Do not give orders that “come from above”;
  • Allow those who do the actual work to make decisions;
  • Take an interest in the people around them and make it known.

3.3 – Managing people with humanity

This is a basic concept of motivation. Dale Carnegie gives us a few examples to follow:

  • Treat your employees with respect and be friendly with them;
  • Invest in them;
  • Smile, say hello;
  • Get to know and care about your employees.

3.4 – Recognise a job well done and pay compliments

There are a whole lot of simple techniques to mark successes (speeches, rewards, bonuses…). Dale Carnegie gives us several examples across many stories.

In the final analysis, the method does not matter much. The key is to have one: what is important is that the members of our entourage know that we appreciate the work they do, that they hold value for us, and that we would like to see them learn and grow.

What to retain at the end of this chapter:

You cannot force motivation. To do a good job, everybody needs to want to do a good job.

Chapter 4 – Expressing genuine interest in others

4.1 – People respond well to people who take an interest in them

You will make more friends in two months by taking a sincere interest in others than if you spend two years trying to get somebody else to take an interest in you.

Human beings love it when people express genuine warmth.

It is a fundamental concept in psychology: people are flattered by the attention of others because they feel recognised and important. Therefore, we like to rub shoulders with people who are interested in us and we often respond to their interest by taking an interest in them too.

Dale Carnegie understood this well:

If you want other people to like you, he wrote, if you want to maintain lasting relationships, if you want to help others while helping yourself, bear in mind this fundamental principle: take a sincere interest in others.

According to Dale Carnegie, it is very easy to get into the habit of this kind of relationship style.

4.2 – Signs of interest: the key to human relations

People do not think about you. They do not think about me. They think about themselves. And, they think about themselves morning, noon and night.

They are countless different ways to show your interest in others. Here are some of the ones that Dale Carnegie suggests:

  • Smile at other people. Learn their name, how to pronounce it and how to spell it. Find out about the other person’s responsibilities.
  • Remember birthdays. Ask about their husband, their wife, their children.
  • Do not limit these expressions of interest to people considered to be important, but to everybody: secretaries, assistants, receptionists, couriers, people who are officially less important in your life. Ask them how their day is going.
  • Observe a detail about your opposite party before engaging in a conversation. For example, a drawing on the wall, an object made by a child, a photo, a racket in the corner of the room. Show your interest, your admiration or your sympathy.
  • Express your affection to others: friend, spouse, parent, colleague… or better yet, show it to them.

These kinds of marks of interest constitute the basic elements of good human relations. They are the tiny details that say: “You are important to me. I am interested in you”.

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

There is nothing more effective and satisfying than expressing a genuine interest in others.

Chapter 5 – Seeing things from the other person’s point of view

Striving to see things from the point of view of other people is a vital principle for Dale Carnegie. If we want to maintain better relations with anybody (our customers, our family, our friends…), then it is crucial to consider things from their point of view.

According to Dale Carnegie, paying constant attention to customer service is even a question of life or death for any business. It is a necessity for a company to:

  • Exceed customer expectations; keep one step ahead of them. A wise manager is always thinking about what the customer will want in a few days, a few weeks or a few months.
  • “Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes”, in particular when it comes to smoothing out a difficult situation is not about giving the other person everything they want. It is about making a genuine effort to understand what he or she really wants to, in order to offer as much satisfaction as possible.

On this topic, Dale Carnegie said:

If you help other people solve their problems, the world is your oyster.

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

Step out of yourself to discover what is important for others.

Chapter 6 – Listening to learn

6.1 – Two reasons to listen

Leaders who succeed are often people who have learned the value of listening.

Being a good listener is the starting point for an efficient conversation and it demonstrates our respect for others. It shows that we consider them important people. It is our way of saying: “What you think, what you do and what you believe is important to me.”

Well-run companies employ many different methods.

Listening is always the best way:

  • To learn;
  • To provoke a favourable reaction in others.

Listening is also a very powerful means of persuasion: it allows you to bring other people around to your world view. According to Dale Carnegie, it works in the world of business, at home, and in every situation we encounter in life.

6.2 – Active listening

Many people consider listening passive and talking to be active. Listening to someone talking is passive, but genuinely listening in an effective and committed way is a very active exercise.

In fact, genuinely listening to someone is so much more than just hearing what he or she are saying. Active listening requires total commitment to the conversation, even without answering. It requires real involvement, with questions and encouragement.

There are various ways to show active interest in a conversation, such as:

  • Nodding your head, saying “Mm-mh” or “I see”,
  • A change in physical posture such as leaning forward,
  • A smile or a movement of the head,
  • Visual contact supported by a frown.

These are all ways to show the person talking to you: “I am listening attentively to what you are telling me.”

6.3 – “Good listening” is better than “good talking”

The secret to influencing others is not so much knowing how to talk but also knowing how to listen well.

Most the people try to win other people over to their point of view by speaking too much themselves. Dale Carnegie invites us to let the other person express themselves fully. He encourages us to let people tell us what is not working and to ask questions. If you do not agree with them, don’t interrupt:

They will not listen to you if they still have a lot of things to get off their chest. Listen patiently, with an open mind. Be sincere. Encourage them to express their ideas fully. They will not forget it. And you will certainly learn a thing or two.

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

There is nothing more persuasive than an attentive listener.

Chapter 7 – Teaming up for tomorrow

7.1 – The end of the pyramid organisation

For Dale Carnegie, the days of the large pyramid corporation are gone. According to him, this structure does not work for governments or for conglomerates.

We need a structure that turns its back on the rigidity of yesterday to enable its members to act creatively and develop talent that has remained fallow for years.

7.2 – The need for a strong leader to lead a team

According to Dale Carnegie, the modern organisation can no longer be of the type boss/subordinate. It must be organised into teams, for two main reasons:

  • Communication

With the establishment of cross-cutting teams, the production, customer service, human resources and other departments can truly communicate. Divisions by departments are even beginning to disappear in some forward-thinking companies.

  • Success

People who work together can accomplish great things according to Dale Carnegie. What gives a team special impetus is the concerted vision of its members.

However, a leader is essential to galvanise this energy. A leader will define the perspective, establish objectives, help each person to understand the team spirit and show team mates the impact that each of their actions has on the outside.

7.3 – Eight leadership techniques to lead a team

According to Dale Carnegie, a good leader masters some basic techniques. He cites the following:

  • Create the shared sense of a common goal

According to Dale Carnegie, a good leader must be able to define objectives that are team objectives: “Unless the entire team wins, nobody wins”. In reality, good leaders always emphasise how much each person’s contribution means. It is interesting to note, for example, that many good coaches and good leaders often speak in the first person plural: “we need to…”, “our deadline…”, “the work that awaits us…”

  • Take care of each person individually

When people form a team, it does not mean that they erase their individuality. A talented leader will recognise these individual differences, appreciate them and use them for the good of the team.

  • Make each team member responsible for the team’s result

In fact, everyone needs to feel that their contribution is decisive.

  • Ensure that most of the decisions emanate from the group, insofar as possible

It is essential not to insist that things are done exactly how we want them done, but in the way that the team chooses.

  • Share honours and accept blame

When a team works well together and succeeds, it is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that all the team members reap the benefits (public congratulations, a bonus, an article in the company newsletter, etc.).

In contrast, when it comes to blame, Dale Carnegie advises us to take the opposite attitude:

Never point the finger of blame and do not complain publicly about the weakest link in the chain. Bear responsibility and accept whatever complaints come your way. Discuss with the members of the team about how the results could improve and encourage them to do better in the future.

  • Seize every opportunity to build team confidence

According to Dale Carnegie, a good leader must really believe in his or her team and share that faith with all the team members.

  • Get involved and stay involved

A good leader has to be available, whatever happens

  • Be a mentor

The mission of the leader consists of developing and strengthening the talents of the members of his or her team.

The greatest reward for a leader, the greatest legacy he or she can leave, is a group of people with the talent, the confidence and the team spirit required to become leaders themselves.

What to retain at the end of this chapter:

Good team members are the leaders of tomorrow.

Chapter 8 – Respecting the dignity of others

According to Dale Carnegie, the only way to establish relations of trust is to respect the dignity of others. In consequence, we should treat other people the way we would like them to treat us. In other words, we need to show other people that we respect them and they will respect us in return.

Here are the four steps that Dale Carnegie suggests to create a working environment in which well-being and respect reign:

1. Put yourself in the other person’s place

Other people are human beings who live and breathe the same way that we do. Just like us, they have family constraints, they want to succeed and they want to be treated with dignity, respect and understanding.

2. Treat your employees like colleagues, without being condescending, without imposing your authority, without reprimanding.

The reason that some bosses belittle and blame their employees is often due to a lack of self-esteem. In reality, it is much more effective to show your staff that you are a human being, just like them.

Treating other people as equals, like valuable assets and not like cogs in a wheel of the company is essential for a good leader.

3. Mobilise, set out challenges, ask for opinions and encourage cooperation

People need to feel their importance, their impact and their influence. According to Dale Carnegie, it is possible to create these feelings by giving them responsibilities, by offering challenges. Get each and every person involved in the company organisation.

4. Humanise the company

Making the company more human uses method, big and small. With this goal in mind, symbolic efforts can play a major role (coming down from the ivory tower of the director’s office for example) as can major changes in facilities (by creating several small sites instead of a huge and impersonal complex, for example).

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

Genuine respect for other people is the most reliable motivator.

Chapter 9 – Recognition, praise and rewards

From the president of the biggest company to the supermarket employee in charge of stacking shelves, everyone wants to hear that they have done an excellent job, that they are intelligent and capable, and that their efforts are appreciated.

For Dale Carnegie, rewards, recognitions and congratulations play a decisive role in professional life. In fact, according to him, it does not really matter how we do this, what matters is that we do it, again and again.

Dale Carnegie gives us, through various examples, multiple ideas for rewards and congratulations. He explains that, when it comes to motivation, even if money counts for a great deal, it is not the only efficient reward.

According to him, there are other rewards that act as powerful motivational forces. What counts is that these rewards encourage self-respect and respect from others.

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

Human beings work normally for financial compensation. But they will excel if there are recognised, congratulated and rewarded.

Chapter 10 – Handling mistakes, complaints and criticism

10.1 – Admit your own mistakes

As a leader, it is crucial to create an atmosphere in which people are receptive to advice or constructive criticism. To do this, Dale Carnegie advises admitting your own mistakes or when you are in the wrong.

  • On one hand, it is a very good way to pass on the idea that mistakes are part of life.
  • On the other hand, it is one of the best ways to escape the accusation trap and move a situation forward.

In addition, Dale Carnegie recommends being the first to admit your mistakes:

Be the first to admit your mistakes and others will rush to absolve you and reassure you. If you choose the opposite tactic, blaming everyone else, people will soon contradict you and defend themselves.

He adds:

Admit your mistakes before anyone else has a chance to point them out. Laugh about it, if you can. Do not try to minimise the consequences.

According to him, this applies everywhere: in a company, a family, a group of friends, sales discussions…

Finally, Dale Carnegie insists on the fact that a leader must take responsibility for his or her own mistakes and never accuse anyone else.

10.2 – Think twice before criticising or blaming

If the person who made the mistake already knows what happened, why it happened and what has to be done to prevent it happening again in the future, there is no point in adding anything else. There is no need to make the person at fault feel any more uncomfortable than they already do.

Dale Carnegie says that we must avoid the blame game at all costs. There are two main reasons for this:

  • It generally only leads to the person at fault trying to wriggle out of it or hide.
  • People who are severely criticised will take fewer risks and initiatives. They will be less creative. The organisation that they work for will automatically lose a big part of their potential.

However, if after reflection, some criticism still seems necessary, then Dale Carnegie recommends doing it with respect. The objective is to improve, not to judge. Among others, he gives the example of the company that renamed its “performance assessment interview”. It became a performance development interview”.

10.3 – Create a receptive atmosphere

According to Dale Carnegie, criticism must follow sincere compliments. He also emphasises that, in a general way, amiability is much more persuasive than accusations and raised voices.

Through a number of examples, he reveals several effective methods to issue constructive criticism. Among these, here are two gentle methods that he guarantees have proven their worth:

  • The 3 + 1 rule:

When we want to criticise, the idea is not to say anything, but to write it down. Once we find three positive things about the person, the rule or the company habit in question, then we become entitled to express the criticism.

  • The “sandwich” method:

We begin by talking about the positive achievements of the person in question. We then move on to the points to be developed and improved. And, We finish with how valuable an asset the person is to the company.

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

Rapidly admit your mistakes, put the brakes on your criticism. Above all, be constructive.

Chapter 11 – Setting goals

11.1 – Set yourself realistic, stimulating, clear and measurable goals

According to Harvey Mackay, a best-selling author on economics: “A goal is a dream with an expiration date.”

Dale Carnegie encourages us to set goals that are both stimulating and realistic, clear and measurable, for the short term and for the long term. In his view, these goals offer us a target to keep in our sights. They also allow us to measure our successes.

When we reach an objective, it is important to congratulate ourselves and then to move on to the next goal “with increased daring, strength and energy”, fuelled by what we have already accomplished.

Furthermore, Dale Carnegie encourages us to constantly seek opportunities to do something different. Do not be satisfied with what you have achieved, but always be on the lookout for a means to do something even better.

11.2 – Set yourself small intermediate goals

Dale Carnegie explains that the majority of major challenges are met when the target goals are part of a series of intermediate objectives. Setting small goals is in fact a process that both encourages and motivates.

The method recommended by Dale Carnegie is the following:

Set yourself small objectives and reach them. Then move on to new and slightly bigger objectives.

In the end, what counts is to keep on planning, to set goals and to act in order to reach those goals.

11.3 – Set yourself priorities in your objectives

Once our objectives have been determined, we now need to ask ourselves what is the most important goal in our eyes. The biggest challenge is what comes next – when it is time to organise your time and mobilise your energy to apply these priorities.

11.4 – The company objectives

Companies need objectives just as much as individuals. The same rules apply: they need to be clear and simple. There should not be too many of them at the same time.

For Dale Carnegie, the most important thing is:

  • Our company must have its own objectives;
  • All employees must clearly understand the company objectives. They must be stimulating and achievable;
  • Achieving these objectives shows that the company is working well.

What to retain at the end of this chapter:

Set clear, motivating and achievable objectives.

Chapter 12 – Focus and discipline

Have a clear objective in mind that you want to achieve. Believe in yourself, persevere, and take care not to get distracted. In business, in a family, in sport, in politics, follow these simple rules and your chances of success will be fabulous.

For Dale Carnegie, our capacity to focus on an objective makes the difference between those who succeed and those who fail. This applies to any area of activity. He believes that to get what we want in life, we have to believe in ourselves and be determined to fight to get it. It is important to persevere, to try again and again.

Dale Carnegie puts it this way:

Patience and perseverance will accomplish more than a brilliant mind. Remember this when things go wrong. Don’t let anything or anyone discourage you. Persevere. Never give up. This is the one rule of almost everyone who ever succeeded. It goes without saying that there will be times when we feel discouraged. What counts is overcoming difficulties. If you can do that, the world will be your oyster.

In concrete terms, on a daily basis, this means that it is crucial to keep your goal in your mind at all times. Work hard without every straying from this path. Take one step at a time and master every detail. To illustrate this idea of perseverance and intense focus, Dale Carnegie gives a number of examples in very different areas of life (presidential elections, a car race, sales campaigns, the focus of a doctor who is first to arrive at the scene of a plane crash…).

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

Leaders never lose their focus. They keep their eye on the target.

Chapter 13 – Achieving balance

According to Dale Carnegie, it is vital to balance your life and to leave time to do something other than work. We will experience more happiness and personal satisfaction. It also gives us more energy, more focus and more professional efficiency.

Through these examples, Dale Carnegie brings up the idea that life balances on several legs, like a stool: one for family, the others for friends, hobbies and health.

This is where Dale Carnegie brings up three principles in order to better balance our life and to become a better leader:

  1. Devote a lot of time to your family, to physical exercise and to leisure activities.
  2. Put as much energy into planning your leisure time as into your working day.
  3. Act, get involved in activities outside your professional life.

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

A good work – life balance is conducive to regular high performance.

Chapter 14 – Creating a positive mental attitude

14.1 – You are what you think

Dale Carnegie is convinced, like the great Roman philosopher and emperor, Marcus Aurelius, that “our life is what our thoughts make it”. He believes that our mental attitude, our mental strength, can radically change reality:

If we have happy thoughts, we will be happy. If we think about our own unhappiness, we will be sad. And, if we have fearful thoughts, we will be afraid. If we are obsessed by illness, we risk becoming sick. If we constantly think about failure, we are sure to fail. And, if we complain constantly, everyone will avoid us. Does this mean that we should adopt an attitude of carefree innocence when faced with our problems? No. Life is not that simple. But I do vigorously recommend adopting a positive rather than a negative attitude.

Dale Carnegie explains that in reality, and in contrast to what we often think, our external environment has very little effect on our personal happiness. In fact, what is important is how we react to good and bad influences.

14.2 – Our attitude influences other people, for better or worse

A positive attitude is the secret to a happy life and a successful career. It is the cornerstone of leadership.

One of the great responsibilities of a leader is to establish a confident and positive tone that shows that failure is not even an option. To do this, he or she must consistently replace negativity with positive attitudes and feelings.

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

Draw strength from positive thoughts and do not allow the negative ones to weaken you. 

Chapter 15 – Learning not to worry

Coping with stress and worries is a real asset for a leader’s professional effectiveness. Dale Carnegie spent seven years reading and studying this subject. These techniques are regularly updated. They are published together under the title How to stop worrying and start living.

15.1 – Live one day at a time

Thinking about tomorrow (planning) and learning lessons from past experiences is of course important, but Dale Carnegie reminds us that the future and the past are elements that we may find it difficult to change.

That is why he believes that it is a waste of time to worry about “what might have been” or “what may or may not happen in the future”. It is much more useful to focus your attention on the reality of life today, on the present moment.

As the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “Anyone can carry his burden, however heavy, until nightfall.  Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, until the sun goes down.  And this is all that life really means.”

15.2 – Techniques for stress management

For Dale Carnegie, circumstances are not what make us happy or sad. It is how we react to circumstances. However, when we truly have no choice, it is essential to cope with the inevitable instead of giving in to disappointment or bitterness.

Here are some techniques you can try to do this:

  • Assess your maximum level of worry by deciding in advance how much stress such or such problem is worth.
  • Perspective: some details do not deserve your concern and are quite negligible.
  • Keep busy: there is nothing better to chase worries away that occupying your mind with something else. For example, you can start on a new project. You can learn something new, do something you believe in, help someone else…

If there is a genuine reason to be concerned, Dale Carnegie suggests following these three principles:

  1. Ask yourself: what is the worst that can happen?
  2. If necessary: mentally prepare to accept the worst by asking how you can get through it if you have to.
  3. Try to make the best of a bad situation by asking yourself: what can I do to improve this? How fast do I need to act? Who can help me? What is the first step to follow? What are the second, third, fourth and fifth steps that I need to take?

The idea to retain at the end of this chapter:

Overcome your fears and boost your life.

Chapter 16 – The power of enthusiasm

For Dale Carnegie, being enthusiastic is an almost sure path to success. He has several ideas about enthusiasm:

16.1 – Enthusiasm is contagious and gets a reaction

If you are not enthusiastic about your idea or your project, then nobody else will be. That is why the best way to get people excited about an idea, a project or a campaign is to be passionate about it yourself. And to show it.

16.2 – Enthusiasm is a feeling that has to come from within

“Making noise” is not synonymous with enthusiasm. It is true that increased physical movement and a more vibrant voice often go with a sense of enthusiasm. However, people who go over the top and use this kind of talk: “I am amazing, you are always extraordinary, we are all great!” often lack credibility.

16.3 – Enthusiasm is composed of two elements: passion and confidence

Real enthusiasm is when we are passionate about something and we show complete confidence in our ability to make it happen.

16.4 – Enthusiasm is as important as some skills or hard work

People who move forward and succeed are those who simultaneously:

  • Work hard,
  • Love what they do,
  • Transmit enthusiasm.

In fact, this is the main shortcoming of intelligence tests, which do not measure either enthusiasm or emotional strength.

16.5 – Enthusiasm cannot be simulated but it can be created and nurtured

Dale Carnegie explains the process in this way:

The way to acquire enthusiasm is to believe in yourself and in what you do, and to want to perform a specific action. Enthusiasm will follow as day follows night.

In fact, we should set challenging goals and enthusiasm will grow inside us.

16.6 – Enthusiasm is transmitted better by actions than by words

The ability to communicate our enthusiasm to others to achieve a common objective is, for Dale Carnegie, the mark of true leadership.

We transmit enthusiasm with a look, a physical attitude, the way we act throughout the day far more than the way we talk. This makes those around us more efficient and more willing to follow us.

What to retain at the end of this chapter:

Never underestimate the power of enthusiasm.

Book critique of The leader in you”

Take action!

In the conclusion of his book, Dale Carnegie invites the reader to take action. He sums up his principles in a few lines:

See things from the other person’s point of view. Give real consideration and congratulate. Mobilise the prodigious power of enthusiasm. Respect the dignity of others. Don’t be too critical. Give other people a good reputation to deserve. Keep a sense of humour and balance in your life.

This advice is quite simple in the end. It requires practice and energy.

If you dream of becoming a good leader based on simple advice that is full of common sense, then I recommend this book!

After reading it, “The leader in you” appears to me to be a practical and concrete guide that sets out the basics of leadership in a very accessible way. Finally, once we apply its principles to our family and friendships and professional daily lives, they can really make a difference. They can be a source of professional and personal success. They may even change our lives!

This book is also a very fast read. Mastering leadership qualities does not require a PhD in psychology or long studies in management. All you need is to want to live a better life! I recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve his or her professional and personal leadership with basic advice and good sense.

Strong Points:

  • Relevant advice and very good illustrations make this book a really practical guide to human relations and leadership;
  • The simplicity of the principles set out do not require a lot of investment before you can apply them daily;
  • A very easy read, full of examples, stories and concrete ideas.

Weak point:

  • This is in fact both a positive and negative point of the book. There is tons of common sense and some really basic tips (smile and say hello to your employees for example). Based on its title, some readers may expect more from the book.

My rating : Carnegie leader people Carnegie leader people Carnegie leader peopleCarnegie leader peopleCarnegie leader peopleCarnegie leader peopleCarnegie leader peopleCarnegie leader peopleCarnegie leader people

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