Tuesday, January 12, 2010


When I was serving my mission in Switzerland, Elder Hafen of the Seventy came to one of our Zone Conferences and spoke to us. We weren't doing too well as a mission at the time.  A lot of the missionaries were depressed and/or not working very hard, and the quantity and quality of our lessons were dwindling. He spoke about something that is really hard to do, namely, do something that you think wont succeed at as if you think it will. Most of the people we tried to speak to weren't interested in speaking to us. But Elder Hafen challenged us to approach each person as if they were dieing to talk to us. This is a lot harder than it sounds, especially if you have tried to do it for twelve hours a day, seven days a week (minus the few hours on p-day). It was easy to have that mindset at first--right when you're fresh from the MTC, feeling that you can conquer the world--but after a few months, that feeling begins to drain and you feel dread and brace yourself for the coming insult and rejection as you approach someone.  I knew I was in the wrong kind of mindset when I could see the campaign posters for Swiss people running for office and I could imagine exactly what they would say to me if I asked them if I could speak with them, right down to the scoff and impatient tone of voice.

Elder Hafen said that we should be like eager puppies, waiting at the front door for someone to come in. Every time we hear a car approach, we should run barking to the door, fully expecting the owner to come walking through the door.  Dogs can do this all day, apparently (I don't remember our dog well enough to know if she did this or not). They don't get discouraged and stop running to the door when the cars just seem to be going by with no hint of stopping.  I decided to try it out.  And it worked. I would approach people as if they were excited to meet me and they would stop to talk to me.  I'm not sure why this worked--maybe people just like talking to happy, excited people, or maybe I just noticed the nice people more often because I was looking for them.  Or maybe we find what we expect to find.  Either way, I was happier and having more success.

This can also be applied to other things.  For instance, Katie and I got Yahtzee for Christmas and now we play a few games every day.  The game is mostly luck, but there is some skill in knowing what you have a greater probability of rolling and so forth.  Anyway, I decided to put this principle to use and try to roll a Yahtzee every single round. I wouldn't stop rolling, even if I got a full house or a four-of-a-kind, and I would re-roll until I got my Yahtzee.  And it paid off, too.  I got my Yahtzee (worth 50 points) plus 2 bonus Yahtzees (worth 100 points each).  And any time I didn't get a Yahtzee, the dice that I had rolled counted as something else either way. Let me just say that I totally creamed Katie and blew my personal best score out of the water.

So I guess the moral of the story is to expect for the best ... and prepare for the best, too.  If you fully convince yourself that you can succeed and do great things, you will act accordingly and you will succeed and do great things.


Katie said...

Whatev. You never did get your large straight. So there.

alee said...

I really like that your big examples were your mission and Yahtzee...nothing is as serious as Yahtzee eh? :) I agree with the theory though and will argue with anyone about the probability theory!

Kathy Haynie said...

Your post reminds me of the bumper sticker I saw the other day: More Wagging, Less Barking.

It also reminds me of the phrase, "Presume welcome." I have to say that to myself fairly often.