Would others describe you as enthusiastic? Do you get out of bed ready to jump into your favourite activity? What activities and topics do you have enthusiasm for? Or are you sluggish but once you get started things start to get better for you?
Enthusiasm is something that comes and goes. Often we think if we are not initially enthusiastic about something, then we shouldn't do that activity but in my experience, we need to remember that enthusiasm comes and goes. An activity can begin as boring but as we do it more, enthusiasm increases. This used to happen to me when I was younger. I worked in my families plant nursery and the work was often tedious and repetitive. Instead of become more bored with the activity I started to gamify it. I explored how many trays of plants I could fill in the quickest time. Could I work faster than the person working next to me? Was it possible to improve the process? I would try some aspects in a different order and see what worked better. Eventually I had perfected my process and was happy with my speed, output and ideas. Being paid by the hour, there was no incentive to be faster but rather an internal one. It was during this job that I realised how important it was to be enthusiastic and to find ways to make meaning in the smallest things. To have fun and learn on the job. Otherwise the alternative was to really dislike the work, put in less and get less out of the experience.
Since those years of summer, weekend and holiday work I have used this understanding of my learning style in many of my jobs and situations in life. When we have more excitement and interest in something, our enthusiasm grows. Excitement grows when we do something well. The reward of the activity itself often brings about more enthusiasm for it. Our skills increase and we gain more enjoyment, fuelling the excitement and enthusiasm.
It also works in reverse. Sometimes we are enthusiastic about something only to discover that it is not what we expect. Our enthusiasm wanes as time passes. If we aren't careful this can happen quickly. This is also natural, so don't be hard on yourself when things do change. Change is a natural part of our life and things do not last forever. Change is ok and you are allowed to make new choices.
So is enthusiasm turned on and off at will? I don't know the full answer to this question but do feel like it can be quick. There is an element of choice in it, like most activities. So what do you choose? I prefer to be enthusiastic. To be positive and to be open and teachable. This allows the enthusiasm to come in. When it does I know to receive it as a gift as it won't always be there.
In my podcast, the Cottage Conversations, I have explored Enthusiasm from the perspective of George Matthews Adams, from his book You Can, and he says enthusiasm is the combination of Heart, Head and Determination. It is when these three elements come together at the same spot, for the same amount of time and purpose that things start and move towards progress.
Heart in it, head in it and the determination to grow and change. This parallels personal growth in many ways. We need to have the right structure and plan for growth (Head), we need to want to do it (Heart) and we need to stick with it (Determination). Determination could be a real key here. How much do you want it? When we do want things enough, we find a way. We face adversity and failure and eventually know things will turn around. We put in the hours required, doing the work people neither want to do or see as important. The boring work can be gamified as I said earlier in this post. Make the boring somewhat interesting and your determination increases.
So let enthusiasm in, recognise it and become friends with it when it is with you! Become aware of when it comes and when it goes. It will change and be ok with that.
David Corcoran is a Executive Voice Coach. He helps people take responsibility for their communication. This Blog contains his regular musings, thoughts and ideas. He is based in Vienna, Austria.