This week Dale Carnegie discusses the importance of a smile and what all it entails. As I flipped through the pages, underlining some quotes, I got to thinking. What makes a smile so significant isn’t simply the smile itself. The smile reflects upon something greater. This is what I call the Smile Lifestyle.
Picture a busy New York City street. Cabs weaving in and out of lanes. People rushing out their apartment doors and to the edge of the street, whistling down their ride. If you hear people talking, it’s either about meetings, who wants what in their coffee, or about who’s picking up the kids from school. The cars keep honking and people rush by so fast that coffee drips out the lids. But in the midst of all the noise, we see the people without the headphones tightly snug in and their phones down in their pockets. They are the Smile Lifestylers. They got their heads up. Their emails can wait. They figure walking fast isn’t going to get them to work any faster. And when you talk to them, you see that little grin.
Those that life this lifestyle stop to talk to the security guards when they walk in to work. They ask their cashier at Starbucks about their days. Whether their neighbors live a few blocks over, two floors down, or across the hall, they know them by name. It’s not about the networking for them. It’s just because they love people.
And when we encounter these people, there is something that calms us. The weight on our shoulders disappear for a few moments. Getting upset at your husband this morning doesn’t seem near as important anymore. Simply being in the presence of a Smile Lifestyler relaxes you.
Reality Check. My idealist side of me loves soaking in this idea world, but my realist taps my shoulder and chuckles. I will be the first to confess, I don’t wake up every morning with a smile on my face ready to talk to anyone and everyone around me. Most days I actually roll out of bed, after hitting snooze at least twelve times. I barely have time to boil the water for my hot tea, scribble on my make up and then I scurry out the door.
So with this in mind, let me add this last sidenote: For all you perfectionists out there who are just like me, know that we are not looking for perfection here. We are looking for small steps of change.
Let’s put this goal in perspective of the bigger picture: We've got to realize as photographers, we are dealing with people. We are all human, all deserving of respect, compassion and grace. So when we meet with a client and they seem irritated, short, or stressed, we get and opportunity to be that breath of fresh air. We get to be that Smile Lifestyler that is invigorating to be around. It’s not about getting through the introductions to get to the agenda. It’s about getting to love on some people who are probably fighting battles we have know idea about.
So for our challenge this week we will put into practice Dale Carnegie’s Principle to smile. I have created two exercises to implement this. You can do either one or you can go for both. It is up to you.
1. Pull out a piece of scrap paper, pen, and a timer. Set the timer for 5 minutes and jot down everyone you can think of that you run into during the week. Security guard, people waiting to get on the elevator, photography clients, husbands, wives, kids, etc. Select a handful of these people that you want to be intentional to engage this week.
2. Keep on your desk or nightstand a few sheets of paper this week. Each evening spend some time reflecting on your conversations. Were you critical in most of them? Were you condemning or praising others? Were you busy talking about what you want or how to help someone get what they want?
What do you think of these of these exercises? Share your comments and questions below!