I have read Dr. Peale’s book “Enthusiasm Make The Difference.” As a matter of fact, I have read a few of his books. All of them are good reads. I love the examples and stories of his patients and clients in a world so far different than ours today. The stories are pre-internet days. Pre-everything days really. Some say it was much simpler then, than now. To a certain extent, I agree with those people. Life has sped up.
I remember my younger days with the long phone chords stretching them as far as possible to get some privacy and the big box televisions that weighed a gazillion pounds. Atari, Betamax VCR’s, eight-tracks, cassette tapes, and so many other obsolete devices we all used that no longer exist. It’s funny, those things are gone with new improved and faster technology, but the wisdom of Dr. Peale remains the same. It’s true, enthusiasm does make the difference. It was the same as in 1967 when his book was published and now in 2019. If you want people to listen to you, follow you, or learn from you, you need enthusiasm.
Each semester I begin all my classes doing push-ups the first day. The students come in with regular street clothes expecting to hear the usual “spiel” on the class requirements, paperwork, and the expectations for the course. Now, remember, I teach kids how to lift weights, not math or science. Following the discussion of general information, I tell them to get in a big circle in the weight room.
I teach them how to do a correct push-up and demonstrate key points to make it more safe and effective. Then, we do a lot of push-ups. I am usually met with some resistance with a few of the students. While they all elected to take the class (it is not required- but should be), they are not too keen on doing push-ups in their blue jeans or their “school clothes.” Almost 100% of the time, the students finish loving the activity. They laugh and have fun with it. Why? I make it fun for them. I am loud. I talk fast. I make jokes (they are funny to me, probably not to them).
I do the push-ups with them. I am enthusiastic about the experience! If I went into the activity with typical teacher talk, I would not get the same effect. Furthermore, if I went into it being a drill sergeant and demanded it from them, I would be met with a ton of resistance as well. I start each class and each semester with push-ups for a few reasons. I want to let them know the course will be challenging. I want to show them that you do not need a long drawn out routine for exercise to be effective. And, mostly to show them that physical training can be a fun and enjoyable experience.
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I coach wrestling, I might not smile as much, at least in the beginning, but I make it a priority to be enthusiastic each day. I talk to my team a lot about the proper mindset they need to have each day to have a good practice and to get the most out of the workout. I tell them that it will be tough and needs to be tough because from that we get better, and we will shorten the learning curve with other teams that have more experience.
I participate in most conditioning workouts with them. I want to share the experience with them. By doing that, I build trust and rapport. Ultimately though, what matters most is that each day I (and my other coaches) are enthusiastic in what we do.
Enthusiasm is the “secret sauce” in nearly every life activity. Whether it is mowing the lawn or working out, having energy and spirit make any challenging experience better. Enthusiasm also brings out the best in others!
How to develop enthusiasm
Let’s be clear before I discuss ways to develop enthusiasm with your team or daily life, it isn’t Pollyanna double-speak and painting a rosy picture to your students, organization, or employment staff. Enthusiasm is bringing passion and love into an experience and doing it with energy and vitality. It is selling your people to buy into your program, and it is showing up prepared and ready to attack what’s ahead of you. It is not getting through it and surviving.
How can we develop an enthusiastic attitude? It first begins in your own mind! Everything we do starts in our minds. To be passionate, you need to plant the seeds of enthusiasm into your thinking. You need to tell yourself that it’s going to be a great experience and your day is going to be filled with opportunities!
You tell yourself you are “lucky” to have the chance to do whatever you do. What if you do not feel that way? Well, you lie to yourself. You keep telling yourself that it is going to be good. You catch the negative thinking right away and quickly change it to something that will benefit and motivate you.
In what ways can we demonstrate enthusiasm with others? The biggest thing that will show your enthusiasm is your body language, tone of your voice, and facial expressions. In other words, your physiology. If you want people to be enthusiastic, you demonstrate it first. You talk louder. You move faster. Equally important, you smile and have some fun in what you are doing.
And if you don’t feel that way when you start, fake it, do it anyway, and I guarantee you will quickly morph into the person you are trying to be. You will get excited and feel full of energy. You “trick” yourself into being enthusiastic and low and behold after a couple of minutes, you are!
“Enthusiasm releases the drive to carry you over obstacles and adds significance to all you do.” – Norman Vincent Peale
So remember, enthusiasm starts in your own thinking. If you think lazy and uninspiring thoughts, the result will be that you are lazy and uninspired in your daily living and communication with people. You need to change your thinking deliberately. At first, it will need to be repetitive and constant. Eventually, it only takes a quick reframe of your negative thought to turn it into a positive one. But like anything else in life that’s worth it, it takes time and effort.
You also have to move your body like a person who has enthusiasm. “Fake it till you make it.” If you move your body intending to be enthusiastic, your mind will follow.