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Please Remain Calm

Who would have ever thought changing health insurance companies would cause such a stressful day?  Apparently, my naiveté was responsible for yesterday’s tiring experience. Upon attempting to get a prescription refilled for the first time on our new insurance, I was told I had no prescription benefits. Well, since we have a fairly nice, shiny new policy, I did the only thing I could.  I got mad.  I didn’t take out my anger on the pharmacy tech (who apologized profusely over what was going on).  No, I prepared myself to let the health insurance customer service agent truly have it.  I dialed the number, and many frustrating automated prompts later, I was warmly treated to


Here I was in line at the pharmacy window and this new company, who had so gladly accepted my first premium payment, did not even have the decency to put me on hold? My anger level had increased from a simmer to a boil.  I came home and sat at my desk, dialed again, and finally was placed in the queue.  The next escalation of my frustration came when the robotic voice said my hold time was likely to be “in excess of 60 minutes.” Now, I had left simmering and boiling, and had moved straight to explosive!  Especially since the hold music I was forced to listen to only had two songs, both of which could only be described as terrible elevator music.

I tried to get some work done in the meantime.  I tried to settle down.  But, the longer they made me wait, the greater my headache grew.  It was around the three hour mark in my hold-time journey that something snapped in me.  All of the sudden, my thoughts were not on how rudely I was being treated, but on how rough of a day the customer service reps were having.  The job of these representatives is to listen to people complain all day long, and here they were with a hold time that they had no control over.  Imagine the screaming and yelling that had been directed at them all day long.

My attitude changed.

And, when, at the three hour and twenty-three minute mark, Trevor answered the phone, I was no longer angry.  I even tried to empathize with him by asking him if he was surviving this tough day.  His answer, “You’re the first person to ask.  I’m hanging in there, but thanks for asking.”  He fixed my problem, and the pharmacy was able to process the refill (for free due to my new benefits, I might add).  Just before I hung up, he wished me a good day, and I know I heard a smile on the other end of the line.  Maybe it was a smile that helped Trevor survive the rest of the day.  I pulled my emotions back in line, and instead of ruining someone else’s day, I made his day better.

What would the world look like if making someone else’s day brighter was our daily goal?

So I Had to Call the IRS…

A few days ago, I received a letter from the IRS saying that I had not filed a certain form for my travel agency that specializes in Disney Vacations.  While they were correct in what they claimed, I had understood from my own research and from consulting with a CPA that I was not required to file that form due to being in a community property state.  So, as the letter requested, I picked up the phone, dreading the next several minutes as I figured I would have to be on the defensive because, let’s face it, who WANTS to call the IRS?

Then…it hit me.  How many people call the IRS upset or incensed about the fact that they received an accusatory letter like I was about to do?  I took a breath, realized that the person who was about to answer my call likely had nothing to do with sending me the nasty letter, and dialed the number.

When the voice answered, I simply explained that I had received this letter, and that I believed it was an error.  She (the IRS rep) looked up my case, and guess what?  I had received the letter because of an incorrect marking in my profile.  She placed me on hold and in less than a minute, she returned to tell me that the error had been corrected and to throw away the letter.  I would not be receiving any other inquiries about this.  I thanked her, and we wished each other a pleasant evening.

Could that have gone differently?  You bet!  If I had gone in blazing mad over receiving the letter, I would not only have ruined her day, but I might have even met a negative response when inquiring about fixing the issue.  The easy way in which the situation was handled was all in my attitude.  Because I chose to treat the situation with a smile, I not only had the problem fixed, but I even got the IRS agent to laugh about how ridiculous computers can be.  We both had a pleasant call because of a choice about how to approach the situation.

Make 2010 the year that you commit to a happy life and a positive attitude.  Without one, you might wind up having to call the IRS a second time!

What A Day This Has Been

Chet McDoniel speaks at Fenton Right-to-Life

Two weeks ago, my dad and I were headed to Fenton, MI to speak at the Fenton Right-to-Life Annual Banquet. The morning started out just fine, however very early as we made our trek to the DFW airport around 4:30AM. American Airlines loaded us onto the plane along with everyone else who was going to Chicago (where our connection was waiting to take us on in to Flint, which is very close to Fenton).

Then, the problems began…

Right around our scheduled departure time, the pilot came on the intercom announcing a problem with the plane, and that we needed to get off this plane in order to get on a different one (hopefully, one that was working!). We quickly realized that our connection would not work as it was only a one-hour window originally, and this delay would make it impossible. American Airlines gate agents were extremely helpful, however, the next flight to Flint from Chicago would not get us to the banquet on time. They re-routed us to Detroit, however, our bags had to stay on the original schedule. That meant that our clothes, sales products, and some materials we use in the presentation wouldn’t arrive in Flint until just after 6PM. The banquet started at 6:30PM.

We decided that all was not lost. We arrived in Detroit and Enterprise was happy to transfer our rental. We drove into Flint to find a Men’s Warehouse where we could buy new clothes and have them tailored on the spot. You see, I can’t just go out and buy a new shirt because of the sleeves. The tailor at the Flint Men’s Warehouse did a great “emergency” job. We called the director of the Right-to-Life group, and she was very gracious and even happy that we were in town. She said as long as we were there that evening, she would be pleased.

Well, our bags arrived while we were at the banquet and my cousin who lives nearby was able to grab them at the airport and rush them over to us. The table of sales materials was set up while we were speaking, and the DVD and CD we needed for the presentation arrived with only a minute or two to spare.

All in all, the evening was a complete success. And, not only that, but our day was not ruined by all of the travel issues. Keeping a positive outlook on the day allowed us to not worry, and to be ready to deliver our message that evening.

Remember, only you can ruin your own day!

Dragons Everywhere!

Last Thursday and Friday, I was given the opportunity to speak to 7th graders from Dawson Middle School and Carroll Middle Schoool (both schools have a dragon for their mascot) in Southlake, TX.  The students were very respectful and asked lots of great questions, but more importantly, they were very receptive to the message of living happier lives by choosing happy, positive attitudes.  

They have been challenged (as I do at every school) to smile for an entire day on the Monday they return from Spring Break.  I call it “The Smile Experiment” and students who smile are changing their schools all over this country.   Here is a great picture of some special students at one of the schools:

Smiling Students with Inspirational Speaker, Chet McDoniel

I encourage you to watch this clip to see how you can “use what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have” which is one of the lessons I gave to the students:


You’re Not that Important – The Self-Important Driver

Have you ever run into this situation?

You are driving home from work one day and approach a traffic light.  You are going the speed limit, and as the light changes to yellow, you make that all important, flash decision. 

“Can I beat the red light?”

Don’t say you haven’t tried it or at least thought it. 🙂

Red-light running is on the rise nationwide. In a six-year study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that deadly crashes at red lights increased at more than three times the rate of all other types of fatal auto accidents.

Why?  I know why.  The people that run those lights seem to think they are that important.  Wherever it is that they are headed, it is so important to not spend an extra minute or two at a red light that they are willing to risk not only their own lives, but the lives of everyone else at that intersection.  

Running a red light is only a symptom of a much larger problem.  Why do we feel the need to run through life as fast as we can?  Sometimes, at the end of the day I feel as if I haven’t stopped once.  Maybe the work of the day called for that kind of busy attitude…but I doubt it.  The real reason behind those kinds of days is that I ALLOW myself to feel like I can’t slow down.  It is all in my attitude in how I handle the day.

So, the lesson here? If we didn’t think so highly of ourselves, maybe we would be happy enough to slow down and spend an extra minute at a red light.  Slow down…enjoy life!  Life is too short for us to run through it.  Blink, and you’ll miss the most important moments.  Realize that your family and your God are much more important than you, and in that realization, find peace and happiness.

The Election is Over – Learn to Let Go

The election is over.  America has decided on its next president.  Are you sad?  Are you happy?  Did your candidate win or lose?  These are all important questions, but here is the most important one:

Are you allowing it to ruin you day, week, month…or the next 4 years? 

I have already heard and seen many comments expressing concern for the nation, and I believe concern and a close watch on the future of our country are important.  But, I’ve also seen people who are mad about the election and are allowing the results to really affect their attitude today.  There are mad workers, mad drivers, mad customers, and mad clients today all over the nation.  And for what?  Can they go back in time and change the outcome of the election?  What is the point of being angry?

It is time that we, as a nation, learn to let go.  Let go of grudges, let go of anger, and let go of the “me, me, me” attitude that is plaguing our nation.  Both candidates spoke of unity in their speeches last night.  They both seek a unified nation, peace and harmony.  Now, it is time to follow our leaders and make our own effort to let go of the past.  It is time to live life to the fullest.  And, you can’t live a truly happy life without first letting go of the hurt and anger you may hold today.

Starting today, I will live life not by what happened yesterday, but by what can happen today!