Thoughts + Articles

Chill Out! How to Successfully Handle Problems the Carrier Air Conditioner Way

In 1902, William Carrier “was working on the problem of regulating humidity for a printing company and decided to give up for a while and take a vacation. While waiting on a foggy railroad platform in Pittsburg, he gazed at the mist surrounding the station and tracks, wondering how late his train was going to be.” The answer to his problem came out of the fog. 

“His idea was to blow air through a fine mist that would act like a condenser, drying out the air. Since air’s moisture content varies with temperature- cold air is drier than warm-changing the temperature of the mist would also alter the humidity.” (Michael Michalko’s book “Thinkertoys“) Carrier’s invention was the air-conditioner that combined “refrigeration and electricity”.

Mr. Carrier found that by taking a mini break from the problem he was able to calm down and clear his mind and think of a solution.

When you are able to relax and clear your mind everything looks better. Your perspective is more positive, clearer, and energized.

Mr. Carrier said, “When I was a young man I worked for the Buffalo Forge Company in Buffalo, New York. I was handed the assignment of installing a gas-cleaning device in a plant of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company at Crystal City, Missouri-a plant costing millions of dollars. The purpose of this installation was to remove the impurities from the gas so it could be burned without injuring the engines. This method of cleaning gas was new. It had been tried only once before- and under different conditions. In my work at Crystal City, Missouri, unforeseen difficulties arose. It worked after a fashion -but not well enough to meet the guarantee we had made.”

He continues. “I was stunned by my failure. It was almost as if someone had struck me a blow on the head. My stomach, my insides, began to twist and turn. For a while I was so worried I couldn’t sleep.”  (“How To Stop Worrying And Start Living” By Dale Carnegie p. 14.)

“Finally, common sense reminded me that worry wasn’t getting me anywhere; so, I figured out a way to handle my problem without worrying. It worked superbly. I have been using this same anti-worry technique for more than thirty years.” 

Here are Mr. Carrier’s three simple steps: 

Step 1: Analyze ” the situation fearlessly and honestly and figure out what was the worst that could possibly happen as a result of this failure. No one was going to put me in jail or shoot me. There was a chance that I would lose my position; and there was also a chance that my employers would have to remove the machinery and lose the $20,000 we had invested.” (Nearly $700,000 in 2023 dollars!)

Step 2: “After figuring out what was the worst that could possibly happen, failure will sting and I may lose my job; but if I do, I can always get another position. Conditions could be much worse; and as far as my employers are concerned- they realize that we are experimenting with a new method of cleaning gas, and if this experience costs them $20,000 they can stand it. They can charge it up to research, for it is an experiment.”

“After discovering the worst that could possibly happen and reconciling myself to accepting it, if necessary, an extremely important thing happened: I immediately relaxed and felt a sense of peace that I hadn’t experienced in days.” 

Step 3: “From that time on,I calmly devoted my time and energy to trying to improve upon the worst which I had already accepted mentally.”

What happened? “We faced a potential loss of $20,000, but after conducting several tests and concluding that if we spent another $5,000 for additional equipment, our problem would be solved. We did this, and instead of the firm losing $20,000, we profited $15,000.”

When we worry, our minds lose the ability to create and are only focused on survival. We are in an attention economy. We must focus our attention on creating, growing, and relationships. 

Dale Carnegie, “Now, why is Willis H. Carrier’s magic formula so valuable and so practical, psychologically speaking? Because it yanks us down out of the great gray clouds in which we fumble around when we are blinded by worry. It plants our feet good and solid on the earth. We know where we stand. And if we haven’t solid ground under us, how in creation can we ever hope to think anything through?” 

Dale Carnegie, “That’s it, exactly! Psychologically, it means a new release of energy! When we have accepted the worst, we have nothing more to lose. And that automatically means-we have everything to gain!”

Willis H. Carrier said, “After facing the worst I immediately relaxed and felt a sense of peace that I hadn’t experienced in days. From that time on, I was able to think.” 

Take a step after asking the right question to yourself.

Then stop, focus, and think clearly about the answer.

Mr. Carnegie says, “Here is another example, from a New York oil dealer who was a student in my classes who adopted Willis H. Carrier’s magic formula.” 

Mr. Carnegie’s student, “I was being blackmailed! I didn’t believe it was possible-I didn’t believe it could happen outside of the movies-but I was actually being blackmailed! What happened was this: the oil company of which I was the head had a number of delivery trucks and a number of drivers. At that time, the Oil Pollution Act regulations were strictly in force, and we were rationed on the amount of oil we could deliver to any one of our customers. I didn’t know it, but it seems that certain of our drivers had been delivering oil short to our regular customers, and then reselling the surplus to customers of their own.” 

Student continues, “The first inkling I had of these illegitimate transactions was when a man who claimed to be a government inspector came to see me one day and demanded hush money. He had got documentary proof of what our drivers had been doing, and he threatened to turn this proof over to the District Attorney’s office if I didn’t cough up.” 

“I knew, of course, that I had nothing to worry about-personally, at least. But I also knew that the law says a firm is responsible for the actions of its employees. What’s more, I knew that if the case came to court, and it was aired in the newspapers, the bad publicity would ruin my business. And I was proud of my business-it had been founded by my father twenty-four years before. “

“I was so worried I was sick! I didn’t eat or sleep for three days and nights. I kept going around in crazy circles. Should I pay the money-five thousand dollars-or should I tell this man to go ahead and do his damnedest? Either way I tried to make up my mind, it ended in a nightmare.” 

“Then, on Sunday night, I happened to pick up the booklet on How to Stop Worrying which I had been given in my Carnegie class in public speaking. I started to read it, and came across the story of Willis H. Carrier. ‘Face the worst’, it said. So, I asked myself: ‘What is the worst that can happen if I refuse to pay up, and these blackmailers turn their records over to the District Attorney?”

“The answer to that was: The ruin of my business-that’s the worst that can happen. I can’t go to jail. All that can happen is that I shall be ruined by the publicity.”  

“I then said to myself: ‘All right, the business is ruined. I accept that mentally.”  “What happens next?” 

“Well, with my business ruined, I would probably have to look for a job. That wasn’t bad. I knew a lot about oil- there were several firms that might be glad to employ me. … I began to feel better. The blue funk I had been in for three days and nights began to lift a little. My emotions calmed down. … And to my astonishment, I was able to think.” 

“I was clear-headed enough now to face Step III-improve on the worst. As I thought of solutions, an entirely new angle presented itself to me. If I told my attorney the whole situation, he might find a way out which I hadn’t thought of. I know it sounds stupid to say that this hadn’t even occurred to me before-but of course I hadn’t been thinking, I had only been worrying! I immediately made up my mind that I would see my attorney first thing in the morning-and then I went to bed and slept like a log!” 

“How did it end? Well, the next morning my lawyer told me to go and see the District Attorney and tell him the truth. I did precisely that. When I finished I was astonished to hear the D.A. say that this blackmail racket had been going on for months and that the man who claimed to be a ‘government agent’ was a crook wanted by the police. What a relief to hear all this after I had tormented myself for three days and nights wondering whether I should hand over five thousand dollars to this professional swindler!” (“How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” By Dale Carnegie p. 16)

“This experience taught me a lasting lesson. Now, whenever I face a pressing problem that threatens to worry me, I give it what I call ‘the old Willis H. Carrier formula’.” 

Why don’t you try William Carrier’s formula and chill out!

Madeline Frank, Ph.D., is an Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, concert artist, and parent. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Business”. Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a virtual speaker contact Madeline at:

This entry was posted on Monday, December 4th, 2023 at 1:25 am and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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