“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote is so true… but what if you are not feeling enthusiasm for what you are doing? Then what?
Definition of Enthusiasm: Strong excitement or feeling; something inspiring zeal or fervor.
The main synonym for enthusiasm is passion. And I would agree it’s easy to have enthusiasm for something for which you have a passion. But what if you are a ditch digger, a factory line worker, a telemarketer, a bagger at a grocery store, a dishwasher, a _________________(fill in your ambivalent occupation here)? If enthusiasm and what you are doing seem like a polar opposites or you feel you need to develop more passion about what you are doing, here are some thoughts that may help.
First of all let’s define the type of enthusiasm that I’m talking about. I’m not talking about in-authentic enthusiasm. The type of enthusiasm that is fake and turns others away like fingernails to a chalkboard (think about a cheerleader when their team is behind 63-0). I’m talking about the enthusiasm that comes from deep within us and spills out so that all can’t help but see it. It comes from a deep love of what you are doing and it takes no effort at all to share. Enthusiasm is an energy that is palatable and it comes from us being ourselves and doing what we like doing.
So back to the question: “How can I have enthusiasm for something I don’t have a passion for?”
I will answer this question by telling a story.
A few years back there was major construction on the road leading to my office. It took about a year to complete the many phases of construction and it’s a busy four lane road so it caused frequent and serious traffic problems. Many times my 10 minute commute took three times what I had planned. It was frustrating at times and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with a dour look on my face as the traffic crawled through town. However, I can still picture one of the workers. He was one of the people who stopped traffic as the construction trucks pulled into traffic. Take a moment a picture the typical worker who does this job. What is their attitude? What is their body language? What is their level of enthusiasm? If your anything like me, the picture in my head is anything but flattering.
But on this job was one worker who changed my view. He was there almost every day, through cold, dark and heat. A large African American gentleman with a different view on his work. Instead of ignoring the stream of cars and drivers coming by all day. He smiled and waved at every single car! He made eye contact. He had an energized posture as we rocked back and forth to make an engaging wave. He became a topic of conversation at the office. I noticed when he had the day off. After awhile I found myself waving and smiling back. Years later I can still picture him spreading the love.
Do you think he had passion for standing around in a low skilled job all day in the cold and heat? Do you think that stopping frustrated drivers in a construction zone was his dream job? The answer to both was probably no, but where did he get the energy and enthusiasm to do what he did?
I think the answer lies in the phrase “love what you are doing”. If you are stacking firewood, LOVE IT! If you are doing the dishes, LOVE IT! If you are writing a grant proposal, LOVE IT! If you are directing traffic, LOVE IT! It is a choice to love what you are doing. And that love brings energy and enthusiasm to what you are doing. Maybe your task isn’t your passion but you have a choice to do your very best and by doing so you bring energy and enthusiasm to your task. If you are stacking firewood and you place a piece of wood that will work but it’s not quite right; pick it up and place it again. This attitude brings pride and pride leads to having the energy to do it right and that energy leads to enthusiasm that comes from deep within us.
For a different perspective on having enthusiasm for what you are passionate about watch this TedX video.