Who Stole Your Enthusiasm?

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No. That is not a rhetorical question, not really. But you may be one of many people who are having difficulty in experiencing any enthusiasm lately. This is quite understandable, and is directly related to the trials of living and working in today’s high-pressure working environment and challenging economic situation.

With far too many people worried about their future and seeing the glass as half-empty, not half-full, it’s no wonder so few are enthusiastic about anything. What to do? You cannot always control what happens around you, but you can learn from the wise. I believe Walter Chrysler said it best: “The real secret of success is enthusiasm. Enthusiasts are fighters. They have fortitude. They have staying qualities. Enthusiasm is the bottom of all progress.

With it, there is accomplishment. Without it, there are only alibis.” With this in mind, how about taking Chrysler’s advice? Try putting a little enthusiasm into your work and your life. Perhaps you feel that with all the “weighty” issues that exasperate you, this might seem like a minor issue. Or, perhaps you may not even care. With a little effort, however, you may discover that you can make a difference for yourself and those around you by putting a little enthusiasm into those moment-to-moment choices you make in your daily interactions with others.

For example: If you are in sales, you can’t win-over customers unless you are believing–believing in your company, its products or services, its people, and most of all, yourself. Then, in making your customers believe too, by applying superior communication skills. You can accomplish this by putting a touch of enthusiasm behind your words and approaching customers with the intent to “help” and not to sell them something.

Put a little enthusiasm in your voice when speaking on the phone. Sound like you are happy to be serving customers and coworkers and it will come through loud and clear. It will also make people enjoy talking with you and help to develop relationships. More importantly, it will make you a valuable asset to your company. Sales down? Work harder than your competitors to develop relationships and sound confident when you do. Don’t complain about how tough business is either. No one wants to be reminded.

If you are a boss, do all you can to maintain high levels of enthusiasm in your company. During challenging times, people look to how their leaders act. It’s up to you to keep your employees motivated. You can accomplish this by remaining positive, displaying dynamic leadership, showing your employees you care about them, and by making them feel they are working with you, and not for you. Make them feel like family. Keep this in mind: As a leader, all eyes are on you. You can never let down your guard when it comes to your attitude and your level of enthusiasm. And if you are a great leader, people will perform at their highest levels with enthusiasm to deliver for you because they admire and respect you. The question you must ask yourself today and every day is: Would you work for YOU?

There are many reasons a little enthusiasm can go a long way. Recently, I had a conversation with a person who made this point poignantly clear. He said, “Christine, I work for a Fortune 50 company. Like many companies, we are challenged by understaffing and fierce competition. We aren’t laying anyone off yet, but our revenue is not what our projections were. We’ve been told that there will not be any pay raises for next year so the company can restructure and invest in new equipment.

Deeply disappointed, I talked with my boss, reminding her of the excellent feedback I had received from the customers I serviced, the extra projects I had volunteered for, and the accolades I had received from other managers. That’s when the harsh reality hit me. My boss told me that nearly everyone in the department was doing excellent work and that we had a team made up of exceptional workers.

Then, she went on to say that although my hard work is appreciated, that I’ve complained about recent executive decisions, and lack the enthusiasm for the restructuring we’re putting into place. She said this has made my coworkers apprehensive. So here I am, an employee with a proven track record of quality work who finds himself at the bottom of the pack simply because of my enthusiasm level. What a bummer. But I do admit I grumbled a lot.”

That’s right, not only your job performance, but your attitude will be the criteria on how people judge you. If your company is restructuring and you aren’t sure whether the decisions will benefit the organization, state your case, but also make it clear that you will roll up your sleeves and do all you can to make it work! Remember, executives must make tough decisions to maintain market share and increase profits. When your company makes changes that create job stress and cause uncertainty, these are not within your realm of control. It’s far better to say, “What will be will be. And, I’m not sure this is going to work, but let’s roll up our sleeves and do our best to make it work!”

Your company needs people who come to work each day ready to serve customers and each other. They need people who have a positive attitude. If that doesn’t hit home, then do it for yourself –put your heart and soul into your work for your own integrity and to set an example for others to follow. Show initiative beyond your job description. Keep in mind: While you don’t like hearing it, there are still many highly qualified and dedicated people who are unemployed and would be happy to have your job. Sorry, but that’s the cold hard truth.

So, who stole YOUR enthusiasm? For my friend, it was learning he would not get a raise. I reminded him to be grateful that he has a job, is healthy and his family is healthy.

Is it your demanding boss? Be kind to your boss. Remember, they have to make very tough decisions during challenging times, and must answer to others whose main concern is profitability.

Is it your high-pressure job? Learn how become more organized. Your alternative is to agonize over all you need to do on any given day and never having enough time to do it. Learn to manage your stress so you can maintain the energy and enthusiasm you need to bring to your job each day. Take care of your health, for without it, you have nothing. If you have good heath, be enthusiastic about maintaining it.

Is it those unreasonable customers? They can drive you crazy, but they are the people who create your job. Never lose your enthusiasm for delivering superior service. Develop an obsession for delivering your best performance with every customer, every day!

Is it the high cost of living, especially food and gas? Learn to manage your money and see a financial planner to help you stay in control and not live above your means.

Is it your grumpy coworker? Tune them out, or do what they teach in the Harvard University MBA program: Go to boss and tell them how their behavior is affecting you, how it is affecting your team, and how it is affecting the service you provide to your customers.

Is it your lazy teenager? Remind them that rewards are not in the picture for those who don’t put a little enthusiasm into their schoolwork and responsibilities at home. Be the best role model you can be. Never ever give up on them. Then pray for them to grow up into responsible adults.

Is it the stock market? Listen to Warren Buffett. He’s probably right. He usually is. Is it those endless boring meetings your have to attend? Suggest a quick huddle instead of a formal meeting. If you are planning a big meeting, get creative. Make sure your people will be energized and educated while there. Then, they will likely be more enthusiastic in helping you to accomplish your goals when the meeting is over.

Is it the horrible war in Iraq and the fighting going on elsewhere in the world? War is heart-breaking. Many hearts have been broken. Pray for peace and pray that our government will find solutions to these problems, and that the United Nations can work harder to their purpose: to prevent and end wars. And by all means, vote.

The list and the examples can go on and on. While these are all realistic sources of agitation, and good reason for concern, and regardless of whether your reasons are micro or macro in nature, look at your own situation critically and ask yourself, “What do I gain from losing my enthusiasm for what I can control? ” The answer is “nothing.”

Reframe your thinking to accept that there will always be reasons to remain negative and pessimistic, but that those who have the ability to move forward through good times and bad, tend to refrain from cynical thoughts. They also put enthusiasm in what they do, even when they don’t feel like it—like when they’re cleaning the house for example! Why not? It should be a labor of love. Your home is your castle and place of refuge.

Keep in mind, there are many people today who are simply grateful they are gainfully employed and that they still have the privilege of living in the greatest and freest country in the world. Our country is not perfect, and for sure, neither is our government. But we still need to be grateful that we live here. Trust me on this—my work has taken me to fourteen countries. This is where I want to live. You should too.

I’m reminded of another quote in addition to Walter Chrysler’s. “One person has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the person who has it for 30 years who makes a success of his or her life.” And don’t worry that you need to trade in your realism to become enthusiastic. Realism is the content of what happens. Enthusiasm is your attitude about that content.

Think back to my high-performing friend. Now that he’s realistic about his chances of being rewarded in a high-performing work group, his future will depend on the attitude he next adopts. Enthusiastic or apathetic? No-brainer, right?

So, can you approach your work and your life with enthusiasm, or will you be working on your alibis, your excuses? It’s your decision, and yours alone. Life is short, make the best of it.

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About Christine Corelli

Christine Corelli is a motivational, keynote, business, leadership, sales, and customer service speaker, sales trainer, and author of six business books. As a keynote speaker, she is known for her high energy and interactive speaking style.

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