How enthusiasm can work for you

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” — Marcus Aurelius

Dale Carnegie recognized that an enthusiastic attitude is fundamental to success, happiness, and personal growth. “Today is life, make the most of today. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you,” he wrote.

Of the many areas we focus on in our training programs, enthusiasm is often one of the most misunderstood. Many people think of enthusiasm as shouting, cheering, jumping up and down, and the list goes on. The analogy we hear is that of being at a sporting event, enthusiastically cheering on your team. There is no doubt that this is a part of enthusiasm, but only a small part.

Enthusiasm without direction is like running in a room full of crowded furniture in the dark. In other words, enthusiasm is a very goal-focused attitude. Great examples of enthusiasm at work include:

  • It’s 5 p.m. and you have a major proposal due at 8 a.m. the next day. You work through whatever hour is necessary to make sure the proposal is 100% on target and on time.
  • You have been given an assignment that is at the absolute bottom of your personal likeability list, but at the top of the list for the person you report to. Again, you give it 100% effort, rather than complain about it and procrastinate.
  • You just found out the names of your new team members for a six month project. One of them you prefer not to be in the same room with. Rather than let that relationship destroy effectiveness on the project, you do whatever it takes to move the project forward, working a positively as possible with that one team member.

Many years ago, I personally experienced how the positive power of enthusiasm can turn a negative scenario into a positive one. There were a couple of sessions in one of our training programs that I thought were not very good. In fact, I never looked forward to those sessions when I was teaching. After doing this a few times I realized that my attitude was quite apparent in the training room as well. Rather than repeat this totally ineffective approach another time, I decided to do something about it. I reached out to my colleagues asking them for input on how to make those meetings better. I traveled and watched other trainers conduct what I thought were terrible sessions in classes that were filled with excitement. Ultimately, after implementing the new approach, my former dreaded sessions became my favorites. More important, they became even more meaningful for the participants in my classes.



So, what is the message? How about live every day with purpose, direction, and the right attitude! And if you have one of those days where it’s really difficult to kick-start your day the right way, why not give yourself a positive pep talk. It almost always works for me. Bobby Jones, the legendary golfer and only winner of golf’s Grand Slam, once said: “The game of golf takes place in the five inches between your ears.” I firmly believe the game of life is the same.

A great example is when we do presentation training. We suggest to presenters that the last words they say to themselves before they address any audience should be, “I’d rather be here than anyplace else in the world right now!” Then begin your presentation with that attitude.

Dale Carnegie wrote, “Remember that happiness does not depend on who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think. So start each day by thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for and your purpose for the day. Your future will depend largely on the thoughts you think today.”

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