The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1751-1348.htm JMH 18,3 Narrative analysis of Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living 268 Using psychological capital as the analytical framework Mario Hayek Texas A&M University– Commerce, Commerce, Texas, USA Milorad M. Novicevic Management Department, University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi, USA M. Ronald Buckley Division of Management, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA Russell W. Clayton University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina, USA, and Foster Roberts University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi, USA Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how one of Dale Carnegie’s historically best selling self-help books, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, resonates with the contemporary conceptualization of psychological capital (PsyCap). Design/methodology/approach – The authors use a narrative historical interpretation to analyze Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Initially, two of the co-authors independently identified passages mirroring each of the four PsyCap capacities, while in the final stage a consensus on the interpretation was reached with the remaining co-authors. Findings – The components of the PsyCap construct resonate well with the prescriptions that Carnegie narrated and outlined in his best selling book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Research limitations/implications – The findings of this study should be interpreted with a recognition that an alternative critical approach to narrative analysis could have been conducted based on the narrative logic of social power structure. Originality/value – This paper is unique in placing an emphasis on the insights researchers and practitioners alike can gain by re-evaluating the self-help books from the past. Keywords Dale Carnegie, Psychological capital, Positive psychology, Psychological research, Self development Paper type Research paper Journal of Management History Vol. 18 No. 3, 2012 pp. 268-284 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1751-1348 DOI 10.1108/17511341211236219 Positive psychology is an emerging field focused on the development of individuals through an encouraging outlook on life (Seligman, 1998). This field, which was formally established at the American Psychological Association Convention in 1998, has since continued to grow and capture the attention of academics and the public in general (Donaldson et al., 2011). Practitioners have been particularly interested in the applied research of positive psychological interventions, which could be designed to induce positive feelings, behaviors, and thoughts that may yield a broad range of positive outcomes (Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009). In addition, researchers have been inspire by the initial successful interventions to examine the phenomena of positive psychology in the organizational context, as positive organizational behavior at the individual level (POB, Luthans, 2002a) and positive organizational scholarship at the organizational level (POS, Cameron and Caza, 2004). This examination has opened a new perspective of exploring what is best about organizations and employees, as opposed to the mainstream investigation of what is wrong and what needs to be fixed in organizational conduct (Lopes et al., 2011, p. 100). The authors promoting the expected benefits of positive organizational behavior and positive organizational scholarship have produced a plethora of self-help books targeting the general mass market (Peterson, 2000). The historical “grandfather” of these self-help books is Dale Carnegie, who published his seminal self-help books almost 60 years before the contemporary books in positive psychology became popular in the wider community. Curiously, while his work is known to virtually every practitioner, it has been mostly overlooked as the subject of positive academic research. This is paradoxical as Dale Carnegie’s first bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People, was initially published in 1936 and had sold more than 30 million copies by 2000 (Peterson, 2000). In 1944 Carnegie published his second book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, which became one of the most popular self-help books for positive coping ever written in the USA, as it sold approximately 25 million copies by 2000. These two books eventually became required reading for over seven million practitioners that have attended the Dale Carnegie Training Program (Peterson, 2000). With today’s growing movement to “theorize practice” (Feldman and Orlikowski, 2011; Novicevic et al., 2002, 2011a, b; Gilstrap et al., 2011; Bevir, 2011), there is evidently a pressing need to analyze the practice in and of Carnegie’s works. The purpose of this paper is to use historical interpretation and examine how Dale Carnegie’s ideas outlined in his works resonate with the contemporary conceptualization of psychological capital. First, we explain the psychological capital construct and its components/factors (self-efficacy, hope, resilience, and optimism). Second, we analyze Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living to identify passages paralleling the psychological capital factors. Finally, we discuss how Dale Carnegie’s timeless classics may shed a new historical light on contemporary thought and practice in positive psychological inquiry. Narrative interpretation of classics Grounded in the philosophy of the history of ideas, the narrative approach to the history of positive organizational behavior emphasizes the importance of storytelling and exploratory theorizing (Humphreys et al., 2011; White, 1987; Abraham et al., 2009). This approach rejects pure empiricism while supporting the Kuhnian view that our theories are embedded in the webs of our shared beliefs (i.e. paradigms or traditions) (Czarniawska, 2004). In this view, theories based on the narrative interpretation of classics are tested by choosing among webs of beliefs based on the “ability of a tradition to narrate itself and its rivals” (Bevir, 2011, p. 188). The ontology of the narrative approach to history of POB is grounded in constructivism (i.e. reality is constructed) and historicism (i.e. history matters) (Novicevic Psychological capital 269 JMH 18,3 270 et al., 2008). With this grounding, the POB concepts are assumed as derived in an inventive way from meaningful practical activities observed by the historicist in the examined classical Carnegie’s book. The aim of this pragmatic focus on practice is to reveal the underlying beliefs that guided actions and provided explanations for these actions by attributing the intentionality of their actors that Carnegie described. The explanations that connect actions of different positive individuals to the traditional shared webs of beliefs are contextualized as historical explanations (White, 1987). These types of explanations reflect narratives that historicize reasons for actors’ positive actions. In order to explain POB using a narrative approach to the Carnegie’s work, it is necessary to tell competing stories about actors’ positive beliefs that evolved within their contexts and histories and select the story that best explains their actions (Lieblich et al., 1988). In other words, a POB theory as a causal claim about historical practices “becomes objective not by virtue of its isolated relations to facts but rather through a comparison with other accounts” (Bevir, 2011, p. 191) (i.e. we can explain POB concepts by analyzing historical narratives). In this study, we will review the POB concept of psychological capital by analyzing the narrative of the practices observed by Dale Carnegie. For this analysis, we selected the book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living that reflects the positive psychology to which Carnegie implicitly refers in his prescriptions. These positive psychology prescriptions resonate well with the concept of positive organizational behavior labeled as psychological capital. Two of the co-authors of this article acted as independent readers to identify passages of the book reflecting each of the four PsyCap capacities (i.e. self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resiliency). Once these passages were identified, both of the readers, with the assistance of the remaining co-authors, compared and discussed the interpretation of the passages and resolved any discrepancies in the individual interpretations of Carnegie’s narration. Dale Carnegie’s narration is based on his collection and interpretation of individual beliefs that reflect the folk conceptualization of positivity in the US culture (Carnegie, 1952; Dale Carnegie Training, 2006). Specifically, Dale Carnegie’s books exemplify folk wisdom as implicit theory about the manner in which people develop beliefs (Hofer and Pintrich, 2002; Kitchener, 2002; Krass, 2002). In his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Carnegie (1944) narrates personal stories of both common and prominent individuals with the objective of deriving from these stories folk-epistemic prescriptions for effective and positive ways of dealing with life challenges (Peterson, 2000; Woodstock, 2005). The challenges are particularly salient during the turbulent economic and social times, such as were the times post Great Depression and the World War II when Carnegie was writing his first self-help books. We argue that Carnegie’s folk prescriptions for coping with adverse situations, which were articulated more than half a century ago, can be appropriately analyzed using the framework of the contemporary conceptualization of psychological capital. By analyzing Carnegie’s narration using this framework, we examine whether these particular prescriptions can be mapped onto the factors/capacities of psychological capital. The specific purpose of our narrative analysis is to identify those beliefs of Dale Carnegie about the power of positive thinking that may be viewed as historical lay/folk conceptualizations of psychological capital. The main impetus for our analysis rests on the decades-long popularity of Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, which in an applied way legitimizes the assumption that positive thinking matters for practice. In other words, Dale Carnegie’s collection of folk wisdom, along with his interpretation of this accumulated wisdom as prescriptions, has stood the test of time and invites our narrative analysis to capitalize on his insights (i.e. to discern his potential foreshadowing of specific meanings that resemble the psychological capital construct) (Kemp and Claflin, 1989). In summary, we use in our narrative analysis, psychological capital as the framework to recover meanings from Dale Carnegie’s classic text, thereby “transcending the dichotomy between the ‘living’ and the ‘dead’ past” of these meanings (Tyler, 2009, p. 171). Specifically, we attempt to achieve “historicized re-enactment” of those Carnegie’s presuppositions that resonate well with this framework. To avoid a possible trap of claiming anachronism in this attempt, we narrow our narrative analysis only to these instances of conceptual resonance, while refraining from making any argument that Dale Carnegie provided seminal conceptualization of psychological capital. Therefore, in the following sections we explain psychological capital as the framework that is later in this paper used for narrowing of our narrative analysis. Psychological capital The construct of psychological capital, or PsyCap, is: . grounded in theory and empirical research; . measurable; . state-like and open to development; and . may have a positive impact on work-related performance (Luthans, 2002a, b; Luthans et al., 2010). The positive resources that fit these criteria as the components of psychological capital are self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience (Luthans et al., 2007b, 2010), because they possess a state-like capacity to be developed by individuals (i.e. individual psychological capital can be accumulated in terms of these resources) (Luthans and Youssef, 2007). Kersting (2003) explained that psychological capital is built through devotion of psychological assets of a person with the purpose of receiving future benefit from such investment and that when such benefit is received it further strengthens the devotion to building their psychological capital. In terms of these four resources, PsyCap is defined as an “individual’s positive-psychological state of development that is characterized by: . “having confidence (self-efficacy) to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks: . making a positive attribution (optimism) about succeeding now and in the future; . persevering toward goals and, when necessary, redirecting paths to goals (hope) in order to succeed; and . when beset by problems and adversity, sustaining and bouncing back and even beyond (resiliency) to attain success” (Luthans et al., 2007b, p. 3). This means that PsyCap is a multidimensional second-order construct consisting of the four distinct first-order constructs of hope, resilience, optimism and self-efficacy that Psychological capital 271 JMH 18,3 272 are tied together by “a core factor of internalized agency, motivation, perseverance, and success expectancies” (Avey et al., 2010a, p. 438). Past empirical studies indicate that those individuals that are high in PsyCap have greater levels of job satisfaction (Luthans et al., 2007a) and organizational commitment (Luthans et al., 2008) than those individuals possessing lower levels of PsyCap. Recent research also suggests that PsyCap provides a protective buffer between work-related stress and uncivil behavior at work (Roberts et al., 2011). That is, those individuals high in PsyCap are better able to cope with work-related stress and more likely to respond positively. A recent meta-analysis (i.e. Avey et al., 2011) encompassing 51 independent samples provides an even broader evidence of PsyCap’s positive impact on employees’ attitudes, behaviors, and performance. First, PsyCap was found to have a positive relationship with the employee attitudes of job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and psychological well being at work and negatively related to the undesirable employee attitudes of employee cynicism, turnover intentions, and stress and anxiety. Second, this meta-analysis indicates that there is a strong positive relationship between PsyCap and the desirable employee behavior of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB) and negative relationship with employee deviance. Finally, PsyCap was a significant predictor of employee performance (e.g. supervisor ratings). Taken together, the evidence provided by prior empirical research suggests that the development of PsyCap may lead to greater performance of employees (Avey et al., 2010b). In the remaining part of this section, we deconstruct the PsyCap construct and analyze its four first-order constructs that meet Luthans’ (2002a, b) criteria of what constitutes a psychological capital resource. These first-order constructs are self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resiliency (Larson and Luthans, 2006). Self-efficacy Self-efficacy, also referred to as confidence in the POB literature (e.g. Luthans, 2002a), is the construct that best fits the four criteria for inclusion in PsyCap (Larson and Luthans, 2006). Self-efficacy, which originated from Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory, represents an individual’s perception about his or her abilities to successfully accomplish a given task. In other words, self-efficacy is an individual’s perception of control and assessment of “how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations” (Bandura, 1982, p. 122). Individuals with higher levels of self-efficacy will exert greater effort in accomplishing a given task than those with lower levels of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986). In effect, self-efficacy research has yielded strong positive relationships with work-performance of employees (Stajkovic and Luthans, 1998). In their study of the effects of negative self-efficacy, Bandura and Locke (2003) found a positive relationship between self-efficacy and job performance. Meta-analytic evidence has also been found in support of the positive relationship between self-efficacy and work-related performance (Sadri and Robertson, 1993). Self-efficacy is a state-like capacity that can be developed in one or more of the following ways: . efficacy can be developed through success, as individuals experience success they become more confident in their ability to succeed; . self-efficacy can be learned from others, as they are taught by others and observe others accomplishing tasks successfully; . . self-efficacy can also be developed through interaction with superiors and those superiors showing confidence in the subordinates’ ability to accomplish the tasks (the superior’s confidence builds the subordinate’s confidence); and emotional stability breeds self-efficacy. Hope Hope is a state-like construct like other psychological capital components. Hope is defined as “a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful: . agency (goal-directed behavior); and . pathways (planning to meet goals)” (Snyder et al., 1991, p. 570). The agency component of hope refers to an individual’s willpower or motivation to pursue a goal. Complementing the agency component, pathways refers to an individual’s creation of sub-goals and comparison of alternative ways to achieve these goals (Luthans et al., 2010). In summary, hope may be viewed as an “empowering way of thinking” (Snyder, 1994, p. 2) as it combines both the will and the means for success. Empirical research on the hope construct suggests that hope positively influences academic, athletic, and health outcomes (Snyder, 2000, 2002), individual performance evaluations (Adams et al., 2002), job performance (Peterson and Byron, 2007), unit performance, employee retention and job satisfaction (Peterson and Luthans, 2002), satisfaction with owning a business (Luthans and Jensen, 2002), and salary increases (Luthans et al., 2005). Hope is developable just like self-efficacy. Based on the model proposed by Snyder (2002), hope develops through goal accomplishment. According to this model, an individual high in hope facing an obstacle or stressor in the way of goal attainment will persevere and remain committed to the goal through alternate pathways pre-determined by the individual. If and when goal accomplishment occurs, positive emotions are created which feed back into and increase the hope the individual possesses. Earlier works (Snyder et al., 1996), which supported the capacity of hope to be developed, created and validated the hope scale. Optimism Optimism is conceptualized in the positive psychology literature in terms of the attributions that an individual makes relative to an event (Larson and Luthans, 2006). Carver and Scheier (2002) define optimism as an anticipation that positive events will occur. Similarly, Luthans (2002) explains that optimism is the element of psychological capital that is associated to realistic positive outlooks. Although optimism has traditionally been viewed as a trait, recent research findings (Carver and Scheier, 2002) have however, indicated that developmental interventions do influence levels of optimism, suggesting it is a state-like construct (Luthans, 2002a), which is one of the reasons for its inclusion as a component of the psychological capital construct. In fact, Seligman (1998) coined the expression “learned optimism” indicating that optimism can be learned or developed. The studies examining positive effects of optimism on organizational outcomes have provided empirical support. For example, a study of insurance agents found that those agents who were high in optimism sold more life insurance policies than those Psychological capital 273 JMH 18,3 who were low in optimism (Seligman, 1998). Another empirical study found that optimistic employees were rated higher by their supervisors (Luthans et al., 2005). More recently, Youssef and Luthans (2007) found a positive relationship between optimism and job performance, along with job satisfaction. In summary, optimism appears to be positively related to a number of valuable organizational outcomes. 274 Resiliency Resiliency is defined as “the capability of individuals to cope successfully in the face of significant change, adversity, or risk” (Stewart et al., 1997, p. 22). In particular, resiliency is “the positive psychological capacity to rebound, to ‘bounce back’ from adversity, uncertainty, conflict, failure or even positive change, progress and increased responsibility” (Luthans, 2002a, p. 702). Luthans et al. (2006) note that resiliency is viewed primarily as reactive, requiring a stressor antecedent (e.g. job loss) to activate the resilience process, whereas the other three PsyCap constructs are more proactive in nature. Much of the empirical research on resiliency has been done in clinical psychology and focuses on personal assets (i.e. resources) that assist individuals in adapting to adverse events and risk factors that decrease adaptation (Luthans et al., 2010). Applied to an organizational setting, these assets may be viewed in terms of such resources as mentoring programs and training sessions. Risk factors in an organizational setting would pertain to threats such as abusive supervision. Therefore, human resource development related to resilience focuses on reducing risk factors and increasing assets (Luthans et al., 2010). Extant research suggests that resilience is developable just like are self-efficacy and hope. For example, Masten (2001) describes that resilience is an adaptive system and by the term adaptive can be developed and changed. In what she termed “ordinary magic” resilience comes from “ordinary, normative human resources in the minds, brains and bodies” of individuals and goes on to say that these “adaptational systems are not invulnerable and require nurturance” (p. 235). This implies that resilience not only can be developed but it is also extremely susceptible to being lost or decreased. In summary, the four first-order factors (self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resiliency) are grouped to form facets of the second-order PsyCap factor (Luthans et al., 2006). By uniting the facets into psychological capital, these componential constructs taken together represent “one’s positive appraisal of circumstances and probability for success based on motivated effort and perseverance” (Luthans et al., 2007a, p. 550) and offer a stronger predictive construct than the four capacities taken individually (Avey et al., 2010a). In the following section, we use the PsyCap facets as a framework to conduct a narrative analysis of Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Analyzing Carnegie’s narratives within a psychological capital framework Dale Carnegie’s inspiration for his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living originated from his review of the ideas of ancient philosophers (e.g. Plato, ancient Greek philosopher and founder of the Academy in Athens, which was the first institute of higher learning), his analysis of significant biographies (e.g. Churchill, the British statesman and military leader during WWII, as well as the winner of the 1953 Nobel Prize in literature), and his interviews of prominent individuals (e.g. Jack Dempsey, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion from 1919 to 1926). Although How to Stop Worrying and Start Living might be viewed as another “popular feel-good” book of the past, Carnegie’s conceptualization of positivity as it is narrated in this book does mirror the lay/folk views that are stable across time. This conceptualization places an emphasis on what is right with people while focusing on strengths and positive outlooks, developing wellness, and a sense of a good life. Specifically, Carnegie (1944) states in his book that he is “advocating that we assume a positive attitude instead of a negative attitude” (p. 67) claiming that his recommendations can help alleviate health problems, increase efficiency, and happiness. Carnegie (1944) also states “circumstances alone do not make us happy or unhappy. It is the way we react to circumstances that determines our feelings” (p. 54). Interestingly, contemporary research suggest “that happiness is a function of environmental events and circumstances, stable tendencies in the person, and the fit between the two, with the possibility of limited modification by carefully chosen and intentionally varied volitional acts”. Carnegie’s prescription on how to achieve happiness resonates with the findings by Youssef and Luthans (2007) that antecedents to happiness include hope, resilience and optimism. Carnegie (1944) also explains that he is “deeply convinced that our peace of mind and the joy we get out of living depends not on where we are, or what we have, or who we are, but solely on our mental attitudes. Outward conditions have very little to do with it” (p. 70). In the following section we illustrate the parallels that resonate between the four first-order constructs of PsyCap and Carnegie’s prescriptions narrated in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Carnegie’s view of self-efficacy Of the four first-order constructs of PsyCap, self-efficacy or self-confidence provides arguably the best fit with Luthans’ (2002a) approach to positive organizational behavior. The concept of self-efficacy seems to be a predominant theme in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. For example, in the preface “How This Book was Written – and Why,” Carnegie (1944) described his time as a teacher of adults at the YMCA’s night school noting that he “was astounded at how quickly these business men developed self-confidence” (p. 7). Highlighting the importance of self-efficacy as a foundation for individual development, Carnegie offered a glimpse into his method of self-analysis which is akin to providing himself the feedback needed to develop self-efficacy. He noted that he kept a file of “Fool Things I Have Done” as a tool to reflect and adjust his own behavior. Reflecting on this attempt to develop self-efficacy, Carnegie recalled, “Sometimes I am astonished by my own blunders. Of course, as the years have gone by, these blunders have become less frequent. This system of self-analysis, continued year after year, has done more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 125). Carnegie’s discourse concerning learning from ones own experiences mirrors the concept of “mastery experiences” introduced by Bandura (1986). Mastery experiences come from one’s evaluation of his or her previous performance in a specific situation and are one way in which self-efficacy can be developed (Bandura, 1986). One example Carnegie provides concerns a gentleman, Frank Bettger, who struggled selling life-insurance. Carnegie explained “he was on the point of admitting failure-until analyzing the problem gave him a boost on the road to success.” Another illustrative example, Carnegie (1944) describes how former US Senator Elmer Thomas developed self-efficacy via a mastery experience: Psychological capital 275 JMH 18,3 276 Shortly after [putting myself through college], four events happened that helped me to overcome my worries and my feeling of inferiority. One of these events gave me courage and hope and confidence and completely changed all the rest of my life [. . .] I can see that winning that speaking contest was the turning point of my life. The local newspapers ran an article about me on the front page and prophesied great things for my future. Winning that contest put me on the map locally and gave me prestige, and, what is far more important, it multiplied my confidence a hundredfold (p. 167). Another example of developing self-efficacy by utilizing mastery experiences is Carnegie’s discussion of Benjamin Franklin’s reflection on his experiences. Carnegie (1944) noted that Benjamin Franklin “gave himself a severe going-over every night” to assess his own faults (p. 125). He further noted, “Ben Franklin realized that, unless he eliminated [his] handicaps, he wasn’t going to get very far. So he battled with one of his shortcomings every day for a week, and kept a record of who had won each day’s slugging match” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 125). Carnegie (1944) supports this view further through the wisdom of Emerson who said, “The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried” (p. 92). Overall, based on these examples given by Carnegie that echo the underlying PsyCap construct of self-efficacy, it appears that developing self-efficacy to help working adults stop worrying was a theme addressed by Carnegie, many years before the formalization of the self-efficacy construct in the PsyCap literature. Carnegie’s View of Hope In the preface to his book, Carnegie narrates how hope helped him find a pathway out of the vicious recurring question, “Was this all life would ever mean to me-working at a job I despised, living with roaches, eating vile food-and with no hope for the future?” (Carnegie, 1944, preface). Also, in referring to the importance that hope had for his own family, he reveals that “My own father-well, as I have already said, my own father would have drowned himself had it not been for my mother’s prayers and faith” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 113). Carnegie emphasizes the exemplary importance of hope illustrating how it can play a decisive role of providing purpose in the lives of a number of people. Carnegie’s description of Willis H. Carrier’s “magic formula for solving worry situations” is the essence of hope. This formula has three steps: (1) stuation analysis; (2) determining the absolute worst that can happen and accept it; and (3) work toward improving the situation (Carnegie, 1944, p. 16). Once the worst that can occur has been accepted it opens plenty of room for hope for improving the situation. For example, expressing hope after she had been told by doctors that she would most certainly die of cancer, a woman exclaimed, “And if there is anything to mind over matter, I am going to win! I am going to LIVE!” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 27). In a similar fashion, a woman who was considering suicide read in an article, “Every day is a new life to a wise man” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 13). This article gave her hope of truly appreciating another day of her life. Carnegie also stresses the role of religion as a source of hope for many individuals. He cites a Nobel-Prize laureate, Dr Alexis Carrel, who wrote Man, the Unknown: “Prayer is the most powerful form of energy one can generate. It is a force as real as terrestrial gravity. As a physician, I have seen men, after all other therapy had failed, lifted out of disease and melancholy by the serene effort of prayer [. . .] Prayer like radium is a source of luminous, self-generating energy [. . .] In prayer, human beings seek to augment their finite energy by addressing themselves to the Infinite source of all energy. When we pray, we link ourselves with the inexhaustible motive power that spins the universe. We pray that a part of this power be apportioned to our needs” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 116). Carnegie’s view of optimism Carnegie (1944, p. 52) recommends that even during desperate times, it is important to maintain a positive, optimistic outlook on life. He cites Alfred Adler who professed that one of the fascinating aspects of human beings is “their power to turn a minus into a plus” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 93). “Two men looked out from prison bars: One saw the mud, the other saw stars” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 93). This example shows how optimism is a prerequisite for opportunity recognition, as only an optimistic eye can recognize an opportunity. “Count your blessings-not your troubles” (p. 88) Carnegie describes, is the lesson we should learn from Dr Samuel Johnson, who said more than two centuries before, ‘the habit of looking on the best side of every event, is worth more than a thousand pounds a year’ (Carnegie, 1944, p. 87). To stop worrying and start recognizing opportunities, Carnegie suggests that it is important to reflect on each situation looking for the reasons to mitigate worries by thinking, “Let’s examine the record [. . .]. Let’s ask ourselves: What are the chances, according to the law of averages, that this event I am worrying about will ever occur?” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 52). Specifically, Carnegie cites the words of Roger Babson who recounts a method he uses to reduce his worries: “After reading history for an hour, I realize that bad as conditions are now, they are infinitely better than they used to be. This enables me to see and face my present troubles in their proper perspective as well as to realize that the world as a whole is constantly growing better” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 165). Another extreme case of taking the positive from what would be typically viewed as negative can be found in Carnegie’s description of Booth Tarkington who endured many surgeries in efforts to save his eyes sight. As explained by Carnegie (1944): The average man would have been a nervous wreck if he had had to endure more than 12 operations and blindness. Yet Tarkington said: “I would not exchange this experience for a happier one.” It taught him acceptance. It taught him that nothing life could bring him was beyond his strength to endure. It taught him, as John Milton discovered, that “It is not miserable to be blind, it is only miserable not to be able to endure blindness.” (p. 54). In this example, Tarkington mitigated the worries that would be brought on by operations and the loss of his eyesight by focusing on the positive experience he was receiving in developing his acceptance and endurance. Even to the one that realizes the gravity of a particular situation, Carnegie (1944, p. 176) proposes an optimistic framing of the situation, “It is good to know that we have hit bottom and survived. That makes all our daily problems seem easy by comparison.” Ultimately, he explains “The point of this is: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Try ‘just laughing’ at some of your sillier worries, and see if you can’t laugh them out of existence” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 177). In other words, optimism provides capacity to conserve one’s emotional resources and redirect them from worries to opportunities. Psychological capital 277 JMH 18,3 278 Carnegie’s view of resiliency Carnegie discusses at length the need to remain resilient in the face of adversity, particularly the adversity that results from one’s disability. He warns that in order for the principles he set forth in his book to be effective, they would “require time and persistence and daily application” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 37). Carnegie recounts numerous famous individuals (e.g. Darwin, Lincoln, Helen Keller, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven) that had some disability but it only made them more determined to excel. In particular, he suggests that it was the disability that made them resilient and determined to fight harder and accomplish the great things for which history remembers them. In a similar vein, Harry Emerson Fosdick describes vividly this resilient attitude of determined people in his book, The Power to See it Through; “There is a Scandinavian saying which some of us might well take as a rallying cry for our lives: “The north wind made the Vikings’” (as cited in Carnegie, 1944, p. 97). To illustrate how resiliency stems from one’s ability to face the situation as it is, Carnegie narrates the story of Mrs John Burger’s life that was in shambles. Referring to the impact of her mother who had influenced her to become resilient, she wrote, “She challenged me to get up out of bed and fight for all I had. She said I was giving in to the situation, fearing it instead of facing it, running away from life instead of living it.” After heeding her mothers’ advice, she said: “I had a sense of well-being because I had begun to fight a battle and I was winning.” She concluded with the following advice: “If a situation seems insurmountable, face it! Start fighting! Don’t give in!” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 201). Another example is Al Smith, who after being elected to the New York State Senate found that he was not prepared for such a challenge, however “he decided to study 16 hours a day and turn his lemon of ignorance into a lemonade of knowledge. By doing that, he transformed himself from a local politician into a national figure and made himself so outstanding that The New York Times called him ‘the best-loved citizen of New York’” (Carnegie, 1944, pp. 95-6). Although, this resilience ultimately resulted in success and popularity for Al Smith, Carnegie (1944) also suggests resilience in the face of criticism, when he states “Do the very best you can: and then put up your old umbrella and keep the rain of criticism from running down the back of your neck” (p. 124). Carnegie illustrates a particular means by which people can develop resiliency – the means which was proposed by Ferenc Molnar: “Getting used to work might be hard. Sooner or later you succeed. It has, of course, the quality of all the narcotics. It becomes habit-forming. And once the habit is formed, sooner or later, it becomes impossible to break one’s self of it” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 202). In the end, Carnegie provides a closing recommendation “You and I will last longer, and enjoy smoother riding, if we learn to absorb the shocks and jolts along the rocky road of life” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 57), just how the renowned boxer Jack Dempsey always focused on positive thoughts and gave positive statements that kept his mind so occupied that he did not feel the blows (Carnegie, 1944), and how R.V.C. Bodley learned from the Arabs that “when the fierce, burning winds blow over our lives-and we cannot prevent them-let us, too, accept the inevitable. And then get busy picking up the pieces” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 169). In other words, to be resilient we must learn how to recover from setbacks in our lives. Discussion In this paper, we have engaged in the process of interpreting historical meanings expressed by Dale Carnegie in his classic work How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Although this world does “give the appearance of straightforward objectivity,” the process of interpreting it is not straightforward unless we use tradition as the reference for our narrative analysis. We have also used a coherent form of reasoning (i.e. logic) when examining the contemporary construct (i.e. psychological capital) that we used as the framework for conceptualizing meanings uncovered from the classic. By making coherent and meaningful links between the traditional and contemporary conceptualizations, we “act as translators explaining the people of the past to us today” (Bevir, 2011, p. 158). In this translation, we have attempted to uncover meanings and outline conceptualizations that could be valuable for the historical legitimization of the studied construct (i.e. psychological capital). Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living was written as a self-help book intended to offer prescriptions of how to maintain a positive outlook when dealing with life’s adversities and challenges (Novicevic et al., 2006). His prescriptions are given in the form of techniques that could mitigate worries. These techniques are reframing problems as challenges, reflecting realistically on each problematic situation, and redirecting emotional resources to a positive stance. Carnegie’s main advice is to preserve enthusiasm when confronting problems at hand by always searching for the ways to “hide [our] private sorrow under a smile and carry on” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 53). Despite the overwhelming success of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, it is not without limitation. That is, the prescriptions espoused by Carnegie may be perceived as overly simplistic by some in both the academic community and general public. For example, Carnegie’s discussion of following Carrier’s “magic formula for solving worry situations” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 16) as a prescription for the PsyCap construct of hope may be perceived as too general as compared to Luthans et al.’ (2006) facilitator-led PsyCap Intervention (PCI) in which hope is developed via a three-pronged strategy that includes goal design, pathway generation, and overcoming obstacles. Furthermore, as it was published over 65 years ago, the language and examples used in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living may not resonate with present-day, Millennial generation (those born in/after 1980) readers. However, our analysis supports the notion that Carnegie’s views on positive thinking can enrich our contemporary conceptualization of psychological capital; as a result, these limitations should not diminish the contributive value made to PsyCap research by Carnegie. Carnegie argues that individuals that exhibit resiliency in the face of adversity have the capacity not only to recover but also to improve the quality of their lives with optimism and energy. Looking at the “sunny side” of reality even in stressful situations, these individuals are more effective problem-solvers that make sense of threatening situations and recognize opportunities. Frequently, the backbone of their positive capacities is their spirituality that may broaden their coping repertoire and facilitate their relaxation (Duke and Novicevic, 2008). In summary, Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living offers a compelling lay/folk psychological and spiritual construction of reality in a positive light. While many self-help books are marketing gimmicks, this one is evidently an evergreen classic for the general public, as for years it has been awarded a five-star rating by Amazon.com readers (Petersson, 2000). This unpretentious, old-fashioned narration is based on many interviews that Carnegie conducted with ordinary and extraordinary people. Carnegie’s narration is so compelling that it seems “if an earnest character like Dale Carnegie went around interviewing luminaries and common folk Psychological capital 279 JMH 18,3 280 today, the details would change, but the lessons would probably be pretty similar” (Petersson, 2000, p. 46). In other words, it seems that despite the fact that Carnegie’s first books were written during the turbulent times of the great depression and WWII, his thoughts and prescriptions continue to resonate with the general public today. While recognizing that the unique contribution of our article is the use of the narrative analysis of Dale Carnegie’s historical writing based on the conceptual framework of positive psychological capital, we also recognize that narrative logic as applied to this classical writing may use some other different approaches. For example, a critical approach based on the narrative logic of social power structure espoused in the works of Michel Foucault (1977) might have likely resulted in a different interpretation, which could have been either competing or complementary to our interpretation provided in this article. In addition, we acknowledge that our imposed framework does not allow for a grounded analysis of Carnegie’s work in which we could identify in an unconstrained way the concepts embedded in the examined Carnegie’s book. Conclusion The twentieth century was characterized by the accentuation of the positive in theology, philosophy, psychology, and more recently, organizational studies. Positivity had been originally conceptualized as a unidimensional divine enlightenment, but is now increasingly recognized as a multidimensional construct. In this study, we have used components of a specific positive multidimensional construct – psychological capital – as the framework for our narrative analysis of Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Our analysis reveals several similarities between Carnegie’s book and PsyCap, thus the components of the PsyCap construct seem to resonate well with the prescriptions that Carnegie narrated and outlined in his best selling book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Similar to prior analyses of historical and contemporary concepts (e.g. Novicevic et al., 2011a), while similarities were found between Carnegie’s book and PsyCap, we do not assert that PsyCap was developed from Carnegie’s works. Nevertheless, it seems that the empirical support for PsyCap lends credibility to Carnegie’s ideas. The prescriptions set forth by Carnegie appear to offer many of the same positive outcomes as those implied by the PsyCap construct proposed by Luthans (2002a) as well as their malleable state-like conditions allowing them to be learned with the right mental attitude. For example, Carnegie stressed how the experiences he had while teaching people how to cope with stress convinced him about the “vital importance of one’s mental attitude” (Carnegie, 1944, p. 170). Moreover, Carnegie (1944) posits, “these principles can be made habitual and unconscious,” thus indicating their sustainability (p. 37). Carnegie’s thoughts and prescriptions also extend beyond the boundaries of psychological capital offering interesting avenues for future research. For example, Carnegie suggested that developing self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resilience is important for obtaining positive outcomes in life, but only after individuals realistically discern the boundary conditions by assessing what indeed is within their control and what is not. In other words, he stressed the importance of maintaining a realistic assessment of a given situation and avoiding unrealistic positivity. Unrealistic positivity may lead to undesirable conditions such as unrealistic control beliefs (Zuckerman et al., 1996, 2004), illusions of control (Horswill and McKenna, 1999), or other psychological biases (De Carolis and Saparito, 2006). Carnegie’s perspective of maintaining a realistic assessment implies that individuals should develop a sense of self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience for the future once they make a realistic assessment of their current situation. This boundary condition has not been considered in the positive psychology research. The realistic assessment of a situation is important as attempting to instill greater levels of hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience in an individual who may have already constructed an unrealistic assessment of reality may cause more harm than good. Therefore, before promoting positive psychological components, individuals must first have the ability to assess situations in an unbiased manner. This initial step of realistically assessing a situation is an important boundary condition that would benefit positive psychology research. In summary, research using historical analysis to explore narratives of popular self-help books may aid in converging lay and academic interests. Review of the self-help literature may inform academics of non-academic topics of interest as well as serve to inspire curiosity about concepts that have grasped the attention/ interest of the general public. 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