Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of attending a graduation. I followed this particular group of people from their first introduction to the Dale Carnegie course 12 weeks ago to their final session, which most individuals consider to be a graduation, and rightly so.

I had the opportunity to speak in front of the group last night. In the process, I related the story of a stress-management consultant who used a cup of water to demonstrate a point. However, during the story, I made another realization, and promptly followed this new direction.

Using a cup of coffee, I held the cup overhead and asked the group, “How much do you think this cup of coffee weighs?”

There were several answers ranging from 8 ounces to 20 ounces.

After collecting several guesses, I revealed that the absolute weight was not important. I could hold the cup high over my head for all to see for a minute and I would not be bothered. If I held it up for 5 minutes, my arm would grow fatigued from the effort. If I held the cup of coffee over my head for an hour, I would be in pain and for anything longer I would be in need of medical attention.

The absolute weight did not matter. What mattered was how long I persisted in holding onto that cup of coffee. So often, we find ourselves holding on to things in our lives that we should have released long ago. These things no longer work for us, like outdated beliefs, misconceptions about our abilities, old work habits, and beliefs about the way the world “used to work”. In spite of our friends and family’s efforts to offer us advice, and in some cases being smacked with a healthy dose of reality, we stubbornly hold on to these beliefs, defining ourselves by them and proudly displaying them for everyone to see, until we begin to crumble and falter under the strain.

I like Dale Carnegie graduations.

I like them because I get to see people liberate themselves from the tyranny of misconception. Last night, I was privileged to see 25 individuals release their old beliefs that they were clinging to for so long, and graduate to explore new possibilities. They got up and demonstrated how they had let go of their past limitations to embrace a new vision of themselves. They revealed how they were more confident in their abilities in handling new situations and communicating with other people. And they demonstrated their flexibility in creating new behaviors, allowing them to step into leadership roles and motivate their team to complete a project.

If you’ve ever had any question about what the Dale Carnegie curriculum, training, and coaching is capable of accomplishing, visit the next graduation in Eastlake and see for yourself what achievement is really all about.

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