Some have enthusiasm for 30 minutes, others for 30 days, but it is the one who has enthusiasm for 30 years who makes a success of their life. Which are you?
When you hear the word enthusiasm, does it remind you of other people or situations, or do you immediately associate that with yourself? What is your “normal switch position”? Are you naturally fired up? Does it show to those around you? Is it contagious? Does it inspire others? Or are you “plodding along” and often in need of inspiration from others? Too busy to care? Perhaps even annoyed by those “bright eyed and bushy tailed” people that are always smiling and always excited about what they are doing and where they are going?
So what’s this enthusiasm everyone is so enthusiastic about?
Is enthusiasm something we are born with? Is it something we develop over time? Or is it a choice that we make – every day – all the time?
I was at a breakfast with one of my mentors, John Fitzgerald this morning and he shared an insight he learned from his mentor almost 30 years ago – that we are defined by our habits – irrespective of whether they are good ones or “bad” ones. That it’s what we choose to do EVERY day that makes the biggest difference between success and being one of the pack. He spoke about you not having to like something to do it well, but referred to an old Chinese proverb that suggests that if you do something well, that over time you will get to like it. And he has often coached me on getting good at the things I dislike.
John has always been inspiring to me, but I have never seen him as enthusiastic as he was this morning. I heard him on a phone conference the other day and it was exactly the same. Why don’t you watch his 8 minute video talk on the following clip and perhaps be inspired by what he sees so magnificently ahead of us right here in Australia right now?
Enthusiasm Definitions and Quotes
There are many definitions of enthusiasm, and I liked the way this one has developed: Over time the meaning of enthusiasm became extended from “rapturous inspiration like that caused by a god” though “an overly confident or delusory belief that one is inspired by God,” to “ill-regulated religious fervour, religious extremism,” and eventually to the more currently familiar sense of “craze, excitement, exuberance or an uncommonly strong liking for something.”We see synonyms like ardent and lively interest or eagerness and today often find it complemented by the overused terms like “passion” and “awesome”.
Would you agree with me that enthusiasm and passion are usually pretty strongly linked?
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote is probably the most famous when he said: “nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”.
However, I really liked the one from Edward Butler that suggests: “One person has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the person who has it for 30 years who makes a success of their life”.
Others speak of enthusiasm “being the trembling you feel when you take the risk of being yourself. Enthusiasm is a wave coming from the soul that lifts you up and takes you along. It is the Life Energy that flows freely through you if you dare to be yourself.”
“Enthusiasm can be seen in the twinkling of your eyes, the determination in your step, the power in your hands, the irresistible energy pull of what you have decided to create.”
“Enthusiasm is the self-raising force that lifts your dreams up to the stars. The world evolves thanks to the thrust of strongly motivated and enthusiastic people.”
There are heaps and heaps of great ones all saying much the same thing for me – enthusiasm comes from within; it comes out of your eyes; it attracts others to notice and to follow you because you have a purpose and are going somewhere; it is a vibe easily picked up by others and it is unquestionably contagious.
So what are you known for?
In my blog Leaping out of bed, I speak about that wonderful feeling we experience when we effortlessly leap out of bed at 4am in the morning to get to the airport for our flight that is taking us on holidays – you know the one I mean? Now that feeling isn’t really a “choice” is it? It is just a feeling of raw joy, isn’t it? And it would certainly “rub off” on other people if they were nearby to experience it, wouldn’t it?
But that isn’t everyday life I hear you suggest. Correct. But it is a really “feel good” feeling, right? I believe it is a good one to remind ourselves of, not only for ourselves but for those around us, a state of mind we can choose to emulate, as I wrote in my blog Managing Your State. Maybe a habit we can develop?
Let me chose another example of enthusiasm. We have the most delightful labradoodle pup and there can surely be no better example of an absolute sheer unbridled and exuberant display of excitement and enthusiasm than when we return home and she greets us at the front window of our entrance porch. If she knew how to revert back afterwards I’m sure she would turn herself inside out as part of that incredible act of joy.
Now I’m not suggesting you would necessarily need or want to greet everyone you meet with such an outward display enthusiasm, but just think back to the last 5 people you saw or met and the last 5 phone calls you took. What will people remember you for from those contacts? Perhaps it was so “ordinary” that they won’t? Or will they remark – yeah, he’s pretty fired up? Were they greeted with a smile and a warm handshake or a warm greeting and a quip that invoked a smile? Or was it “just another call”?
I’m still working on it, believe me to have people feel much the better for having seen me or spoken to me. However, I often don’t even notice any more that I’m doing that. I guess it is becoming one of those habits John spoke about earlier on.
Leadership and Enthusiasm
I do quite a bit of facilitation of leadership teams around the awareness required to differentiate ordinary from extraordinary leadership. I start with the fact that leadership starts with the leadership of ourselves and go on to suggest that it cannot be “given”, but that it needs to be “taken”. Whilst differentiating when to lead from the front and when to be Leading from behind I unquestionably emphasize the need for enthusiasm “from the front”. How can you inspire people when you are behaving like a “sourpuss”? Do you think the dog in the hunt has time to scratch for fleas? No sir, there is absolutely nothing that will stop him until he has caught the rabbit. Enthusiasm replaces the need (and the time needed) to think of or conjure up any “fleas” in our mind.
If you have been given the wonderful privilege of leading others to a cause or an outcome, please do everyone the justice of tackling that role with enthusiasm. Can you afford anything else in front of those you lead?
So then it is a choice, isn’t it? Don’t you have that choice every morning to decide whether you are going to be “tail up or tail down”? I’m going to leave that one for you to decide.
As a coach, I have not only studied the human behaviours that lead to better understanding and influencing of these choices, but have clearly embarked on an ongoing journey of practicing it myself and guiding those I work with to first become aware of and then excercise that choice in their lives and work.
By the way, have you noticed that nowhere have I spoken about skills today? Why, because I believe that attitude and enthusiasm create behaviours (and beliefs) that transcend skills when it comes to outcomes.
So what if you chose to develop a new habit? I’m told a habit manifests by committing to it and then doing what it takes for 21 consecutive days. If you miss a day, you go back to zero and start again until you have done 21 consecutive days.
So what if you chose to develop a habit of “enthusiasm”? Go on – you decide how that could manifest for you. What will you do every day for 21 days until it is a habit that can be measured as a display of one of your enthusiastic behavior traits?
What do you think might come out of your smiling eyes? What influence or inspiration could you generate that others will be compelled to follow? What more could you achieve if there is an enthusiasm coming out of your eyes that everyone can’t help but notice? Can you imagine what you could achieve?
What if you could?