Enthusiasm is derived from the Greek ἐνθουσιασμός from ἐν (en, “in”) and θεός (theós, “god”), meaning “inspired or possessed by [a] god.” It can also refer to a person possessed by God or exhibited intense piety. To be enthused means to be interested in something, a subject or an activity. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War, Winston Churchill, once quipped, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Not losing one’s enthusiasm when the challenges, vicissitudes, trials and tribulations of life arise is one of the hallmarks of highly successful people.
Life can be challenging most of the time; the storms of life are always coming; it is either this or that, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Losing a loved one, getting laid off, getting divorced, dealing with a medical condition, and managing various life stressors can result in a loss of enthusiasm. Having the mental fortitude and strength to withstand whatever life throws at us is a skill set that needs to be continuously cultivated and harnessed. To maintain your enthusiasm, never let success get to your head and do not let failure get to your heart. Whatever will go wrong will eventually go wrong (Murphy’s Law). The key to navigating the roller coaster of life is to accept the impermanence of life radically and have some compassion for yourself.
One evening an elder Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us. One is Fear. It carries anxiety, concern, uncertainty, hesitancy, indecision, and inaction. The other is Faith. It brings calm, conviction, confidence, enthusiasm, decisiveness, excitement, and action.” The grandson thought about it for a moment and then meekly asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed. 1
In his 2017 California State University Maritime Academy commencement speech, author and speaker Dr. Rick Rigsby delivered a speech titled “Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout”. He also wrote a book based on the speech and lessons learned from his dad, Lessons From a Third-Grade Dropout: How the Timeless Wisdom of One Man Can Impact an Entire Generation. One of the lessons that Dr. Rigsby shared in his speech is to never lose your enthusiasm, no matter what you are going through.
Let me close with a very personal story that I think will bring all this into focus. Wisdom will come to you in the unlikeliest of sources, a lot of times through failure. When you hit rock bottom, remember this. While you’re struggling, rock bottom can also be a great foundation on which to build and on which to grow. I’m not worried that you’ll be successful. I’m worried that you won’t fail from time to time. The person that gets up off the canvas and keeps growing, that’s the person that will continue to grow their influence.
American author, radio and television host Larry King went through a lot in his lifetime; he was married eight times to seven women and had multiple health conditions, including a near-fatal stroke. King was once fired from the Miami Herald, where he wrote a column. In his book, We Got Fired!: . . . And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us 2, author Harvey Mackay interviewed Larry King and asked him how he kept his enthusiasm despite what was going on in his life.
Mackay: One of the reasons that people can’t imagine Larry King getting fired is that you keep getting better. How do you do it?
Larry King: I’ve never lost my enthusiasm. I’ve never had an agenda. I’ve never gone on the air with the intent to harm or to hurt other persons. I’m just there to learn. And I have never gotten jaded. I still like what I do. I like some shows better than others. I don’t like it when I have to do a show on a subject that I’m sort of bored with, but I understand that producers need the public to watch something. When that light goes on, something pops in me that is unexplainable. I can be tired. Something could have gone wrong. That hour is my refuge. It has to do with control. I control that hour. It’s my hour. Not many people in their lives get a chance to control things. They think: I can’t control my kids, my spouse. In that hour, I ask the questions. I go to the phones. That’s hard to come down from.
One of the building blocks of Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is Enthusiasm. The Pyramid reveals that success is built block by block, where each block is a crucial principle contributing to lifelong achievement in every area of life. Coach Wooden led the UCLA Bruins team won ten NCAA national championships, seven of them in consecutive years, and had four undefeated seasons, including an 88-game winning streak. John Wooden had a 620-147 record during his 27-year tenure. In his book, Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success 3, Coach Wooden describes enthusiasm as the second building block for achieving success. He writes:
Brushes off with those with whom you come in contact. You must truly enjoy what you are doing. We almost have to force or drive ourselves to work hard if we are to reach our potential. If we don’t enjoy what we do, we won’t be able to push as hard as we need to push for as long as we need to push to achieve our best. However, if we do enjoy what we do, and if we’re enthusiastic about it, we’ll do it better and come closer to becoming the best we can be.
- Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt – Stillness
When everything is moving and shifting, the only way to counteract chaos is stillness. When things feel extraordinary, strive for ordinary. When the surface is wavy, dive deeper for quieter waters. – Kristin Armstrong
Daily Calm with Jay Shetty -Before and After
- The never-ending process of growth. The Maslow hierarchy of needs.
- For most of our lives, we are in the “during phase” where we are constantly learning, growing, making mistakes and trying again – Messy Middle. One of the reasons that we feel so distressed by the middle is that we have been programmed to focus on the happy ending where all is resolved. So we find the in-between moments unfulfilling, like a waste of time.
- We feel stuck when we are making strides; we think that we are in limbo when we are actually in progress, Life is not a trip from A to B, it is an adventure.
- Kona Ice: Tony Lamb | How I Built This with Guy Raz
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.