By Kathleen Himler, Dale Carnegie Training
Enthusiasm is rooted in the Greek language – “God within”. Deep huh? I prefer to put it in every day context. Think of enthusiasm in terms of this visual.
Open up a can of coca cola (any brand!). What do hear? Pour it out. What do notice. Take a sip. Describe it. Now do the same with a can that has been sitting out open overnight? Which beverage do you want to buy and drink? Every day we have the ability to be the one people prefer!
Enthusiasm is in our control and as professionals, it behooves us to be mindful of strategies to find and keep this healthy spark. On the other hand, negative attitudes can spread like the plague (who hasn’t had the pleasure of working alongside “Debbie Downer”) and become a huge drag on performance. The good news is that enthusiasm and positive attitudes spread quickly and positively affect performance.
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude”. —William James
Enthusiasm looks different on everyone; some show it in animation and volume, others show it with intensity and focus. When you are enthusiastic, whatever your mode, it shows and most important, YOU feel it. Let’s spend our time here with ways to be intentional with your enthusiasm strategy.
Here are my favorite 3 strategies that work to increase your enthusiasm for life and work:
1. Make an Enthusiasm Commitment
Stephen Covey says, begin with the end in mind. Accordingly, take the time to think about the benefits of being more enthusiastic. In my experience, this is easier than it sounds. Most people know where they are lacking in this department. Consider, do you have a pattern of rolling your eyes? Are you stressed at the same time every day? Do you find yourself in the excuse mode way too often? Is your resolution list always the same?
Now decide what you are going a) to do more of, or b) do differently? It can be as simple as getting up earlier on work days, giving yourself a daily pep talk or intentionally taking “no” out of your vocabulary.
Now do it. It takes a minimum of 21 consecutive attempts at a new activity in order for it to become a habit.
2. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Positive energy attracts positive energy. And relatedly, positive energy reduces the negative. That’s one of the keys to success of this Chamber! Have you ever attended an event here and didn’t feel a surge of positivity (at least to some degree) afterwards?
It’s not just about being in a comfort zone either. Expand your social circle! This is easier to do than ever before with social media platforms. Via keyboard we can see what people are talking about, chime in, and learn.
It is critical that you minimize contact with those that drain us. Venting is necessary, I get it. What I’m talking about are those people in your life that don’t add, they only subtract. This includes those contacts on Facebook whose posts are entertaining but not in a good way. Defriend (is that the term?) them asap. Put your time in (in person or virtual) with people that are a net positive. Remember this:
“Great people talk about ideas. Average people talk about things. Small people talk about other people”. – Author: Unknown
Expand your circles and your enthusiasm for life and learning will soar.
3. Be a Possibility Thinker
A possibility thinker considers what could be, what should be, despite current status. This is not being delusional. This requires a different perspective. The alternative zaps us of our creativity and our enthusiasm for challenge. Too often we talk ourselves out of trying something new before we give it a go. This strategy says, suspend your disbelief and try something new. Trust yourself.
“It doesn’t depend on who you are or what you have. It depends solely on what you think. So think positive thoughts and approach issues as opportunities”. – Dale Carnegie
The practice of greenlight thinking is super helpful here; effective in solo or group mode. Here, all ideas are helpful. Write them down on separate post it notes. Seeing all ideas on paper, on walls, charted, etc lends itself to better decisions. In group settings, this process can be lively and productive when done right. One of the primary benefits is that you land on a decision/approach with team buy in.
I’d be remiss if we stop here. Final segment – here are strategies for sparking enthusiasm in others:
- Talk in terms of their interests. (shift from me to you, in verbal and digital communication)
- Let them feel the idea is theirs (careful not to be condescending)
- Give honest appreciation and be specific (platitudes don’t cut it)
- Praise the slightest improvement and every improvement (the workforce has changed so recognize this “need” as we on-board and manage employees).
- Enroll them in a Dale Carnegie Course! (you knew that was coming)
When we live with intentional focus on enthusiasm, we have more control over maintaining our own positive attitudes.
It is a cycle; think differently, behave differently, produce new exciting results. Watch for the ripple effect!
Be bold and curious; adopt the Columbo attitude. For those who don’t recognize that reference, be curious to explore and take notice of the changes you can achieve when the focus is on being more enthusiastic. For cynics, prove me wrong! Put in the effort, treat this as a grand experiment and then let’s talk.