The Habit of Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
“Mere enthusiasm is the all in all.” ~William Blake
By: Martin Grunburg
Let’s begin with a true understanding of enthusiasm. Take a quick look at its definition:
“intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval.”
Note the word “approval.” This implies that being enthusiastic is an affirmation of sorts. So, if I’m enthusiastic about your idea, I approve of it and affirm it has value.
Now let’s look at the etymology of the word enthusiasm. This is from http://www.etymonline.com.
I have highlighted a key area here. Note the phrasing: “be inspired or possessed by a god,” and from entheos, “divinely inspired, possessed by a god.” En = in, while theos = god.
To be enthusiastic is to be “divinely inspired to be in-god, or you might say that enthusiasm welcomes and encourages the “god-within.”
So, what’s the point?
The point is that enthusiasm IS the difference maker. It’s the game-changer; the difference between living a vital, creative and inspired life or a boring, dull, uninspired and mostly unhappy life. This bears repeating: ENTHUSIASM is the difference.
So, here’s the kicker: Enthusiasm, like any habit, can be cultivated!
It’s worth noting that to be enthusiastic is really our original and natural state. It is a habit (really an instinct, if you will), that we were ALL born with. Just try to imagine a 5-year-old child who isn’t entirely enthusiastic about everything!
Meet Dale and Uli
My wife and I have been friends with an extraordinarily active, elderly couple, Dale and Uli (both in their late 70s). My wife has known these two for 40 years and I’ve known them for the last 20 or so. At the last Christmas party, I had to ask Dale how they do it. “How do you both continue to look as though you are getting younger each year? It’s incredible!” I almost yelled (with enthusiasm). In fact, we were even discussing our previous encounter; they had caught me on a run as they were riding their bikes along the bay.
I persisted: “Really, you are the most active and fit couple I have ever seen at any age! How do you do it? How do you account for being so active and young looking?” Of course, before I could even finish asking my own question (thinking I was being “smart-guy”), I threw out my own two cents on the matter, saying something like, “It’s gotta be your diet and exercise, right?” Dale just looked at me; her clear, blue eyes might as well have been those of a baby. “Well,” she said, “I think the real key is to be excited…it’s about having great enthusiasm almost like a kid does for each and every new day — that’s what we try to do!”
As I’m recounting this exchange, it’s fascinating that she said “that is what we TRY to do.” This would suggest that there is a conscious effort; I would think by now, for the most part, it has developed into a habit!
If happiness is a habit (and it is), then so is enthusiasm!
If health and longevity weren’t good enough reasons for us to be more enthusiastic about each and every day, then consider how an increase in enthusiasm might elevate your profession. Just try to imagine any great business leader who isn’t enthusiastic.
For instance, try to imagine Steve Jobs unveiling the iPhone or iPod with little or no enthusiasm. Picture Walt Disney sharing his vision of Disneyland without any enthusiasm. In fact, when it comes to raising capital, every entrepreneur should know this: Almost nothing can take the place of enthusiasm. I have personally witnessed marginal ideas with great enthusiasm raise millions of dollars — and good (even great) ideas with marginal enthusiasm raise little to no money.
We’re only scratching the surface here when it comes to the many advantages of being enthusiastic. Think about it this way: If you’re enthusiastic, you’re more likely to enjoy your work, which will help you to be more productive and more creative, all which are likely to result in you earning more money!
I would submit to you that even “greatness” itself, as we have come to define it, could not exist without enthusiasm. So, as we approach Martin Luther King Jr. day, I ask you to imagine MLK delivering his “I have a dream” speech in a monotone voice, without any enthusiasm. How great would that be? How powerful would his message be?
It was his enthusiasm (en theos) that ultimately inspired millions to stand behind MLK and his noble cause! It was enthusiasm that allowed him to achieve greatness.
This is perhaps another example of why Ralph Waldo Emerson once proclaimed, “Nothing great is ever achieved without enthusiasm!” (Note: I added the exclamation point! ; )
Finally, the following is a terrific trailer video for a movie about the life of Jack LaLanne — an amazing man who was so far ahead of his time in terms of nutrition and fitness. And, as I’m sure you guessed, he was full of enthusiasm. In fact, it’s almost impossible to watch this and not be inspired!
Enjoy! Thanks for reading!
btw: Just ran across this Dr. Norman Vincent Peale book, “Enthusiasm Makes The Difference“. Interesting… (I haven’t read it, but have really enjoyed some of his other books… this one looks great too!)