Shortly after my daughter Jennie graduated from college, I noticed a change in her. News that would have been greeting with an “Oh, wow!” in the past was met with a shrug or a grunt. Nothing seemed to excite her.
When I mentioned my concern to my sister, she said, “I don’t think you need to be worried. I was like that when I was in my twenties trying to send the message, ‘I’ve seen better,’ so people would think I was worldly.”
Happily, the enthusiastic Jennie eventually returned, but not everybody passes through their blasé phase so quickly. Some people make it a lifetime policy to be unimpressed and unexcited about everything that life has to offer.
While they may think that they’re displaying superior intelligence by their perpetually disapproving attitude, they’re really repelling others (including customers and clients) from their life.
Being around the terminally bored is like being in a room lit by 25 watt light bulbs. It’s strangely uncomfortable and there’s a natural impulse to want to move into a brighter space.
Smart entrepreneurs know that apathy is an invitation to doom while enthusiasm is survival gear.
The wise have always known this. “Success is going from failure to failure,” observed Winston Churchill, “without a loss of enthusiasm.”
The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek “entheos” which means “God within”. It appears that those who are in touch with their inner spiritual fire are the most naturally enthusiastic about life itself.
Of course, many people have brief moments of excitement if they make a big sale, buy a winning lottery ticket or get invited to a reception at the White House. These are temporary responses, however, and once the moment has passed, so has their enthusiasm.
Genuine enthusiasm isn’t a temporary response to short-lived good fortune: it’s a way of dealing with whatever life offers up. It is actually an expression of a grateful and awe-filled attitude. Most critically, it’s a cultivated behavior—like good manners.
The chronically cranky don’t understand that they’re doing it to themselves. On the other hand, the perpetually enthusiastic know that their attitude is a powerful weapon against boredom, frustration and intolerance so they take great care to protect it.
Unlike good manners, which are totally learned behavior, enthusiasm arrives with us at birth. Watch any two-year-old exploring the world around them and you’ll see wide-eyed enthusiasm in action.
Unfortunately, many people believe that the role of parenting is about dampening enthusiasm, not fanning it, so too many of us arrive at adulthood with our enthusiasm dimmed and diminished. If we are to approach our lives with enthusiasm and vigor, we need to learn how to light our own fire.
That may be easier than you think. Since enthusiasm is an innate quality residing in each of us, we can decide to release it and allow it to propel us through our lives.
We can also discover for ourselves what nurtures our enthusiasm and make an effort to bring more of that into our lives. Conversely, we also need to identify those people and situations that diminish our zest and either eliminate them or find a workable way to include them with enthusiasm.
If you want to create a business that is rich, full and filled with wonder, start by releasing this magical power.
Do so and you’ll discover first hand what Charles Kingsley was talking about when he said, “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”