Zest for life

By Henrylito D. Tacio

Bruno Cote is one of the most successful painters to come out from Canada.  Recently, a journalist visited his studio to conduct an exclusive interview.  “The first thing you notice on entering his studio is the cleanliness and lack of clutter,” the journalist reported. The studio is on two levels, one an afterthought of the other.  The lower area contains the workstation and easel.  In the middle of the easel and rising up behind it is a brightly painted board with the cryptic letters EMTD. 

When asked what those four letters stand for, the painter said it was an acronym for Enthusiasm Makes the Difference.  Actually, it was the title of a book by Norman Vincent Peale which he used to read when he was young.

“It changed my life,” he said, adding that EMTD is more than his motto; it is his primal force and method of living.  When asked by the journalist how he gets enthusiastic when he isn’t feeling it. “It builds up,” he says. “If you don’t work for a while, then you need to and you do it.  I come in here and go for it.  I work myself up.  I work very, very fast and get a lot done for every blast.  If you’re not enthusiastic, it’s no good.” 

Thomas J. Watson once reminded: “The great accomplishments of man have resulted from the transmission of ideas of enthusiasm.” Norman Vincent Peale added, “When a person applies enthusiasm to his job, the job will itself become alive with exciting new possibilities.” In his book, Treasury of Courage and Confidence, Peale shared the story of one of the participants of a public speaking class, where he was an invited speaker.  This man was completely desultory and uninspired in his platform performance. 

“You need enthusiasm,” Peale told him. “I know,” the man replied, “but you cannot be enthusiastic just by wanting it.”  “Oh, yes, you can,” Peale insisted.  “Next time you speak, act really enthusiastic.  Pour it on; give it all you’ve got.” “That will be a phony,” the man said.  “You can’t be enthusiastic just by acting as if you were.” 

Hearing his response, Peale gave him the “as if” principle.  The next time he was the speaker, he really threw himself into his talk and the reaction of his hearers was electric.  So inspired was this hitherto dull speaker that he continued to act “as if” he were the most enthusiastic of all speakers until in due course he honestly qualified for that category. 

“To have enthusiasm for life,” Peale concluded his story, “act ‘as if’ you did possess it and you shall have it.” Dale Carnegie himself said: “Act enthusiastic and you become enthusiastic.”  Charles Schwab has the same idea: “A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.” 

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,” Ralph Waldo Emerson said.  To which Walter Chrysler agreed: “I feel sorry for the person who can’t get genuinely excited about his work.  Not only will he never be satisfied, but he will never achieve anything worthwhile.” So be enthusiastic then in everything you do.  Christian Larson urges, “Promise yourself to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.” 

And just don’t be enthusiastic today or tomorrow but throughout your life. “One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man who has it for 30 years who makes a success of his life,” Edward B. Butler reminds.  

Although enthusiasm is contagious, don’t wait for other people to make you enthusiastic.  If you just wait, you won’t go far.  In his book, The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, John C. Maxwell explains: “Successful people understand that attitude is a choice – and that includes enthusiasm.  People who wait for external forces to help them spark their enthusiasm are at other people’s mercy all the time.  They are likely to run hot or cold based on what’s going on around them at any given moment.” 

Unknown to many, enthusiasm can make ordinary people extraordinary.  Bruce Barton shares this story to point out this view: A man had died, and the whole city mourned his going.  At a club we were discussing him, reminding ourselves of one characteristic and another that had endeared him to us. 

Finally a man whose name is famous spoke. “You know our friend hardly had a fair start,” he said quietly.  “Nature did not mean to let him be a big man.  She equipped him with very ordinary talents. “I can remember the first time I heard him speak.  It was a very stumbling performance.  Yet, in his later years, we regarded him as one of the real orators of his generation.  His mind was neither very original nor very profound, but he managed to build a great institution, and the imprint of his influence is on ten thousand lives.” 

The speaker stopped, and we urged him to go on.  “How then do you account for his success?” we asked. “It is simple,” he replied. “He merely forgot himself.  When he spoke, his imperfections were lost in the glory of his enthusiasm.  When he organized, the fire of his faith burned away all obstacles.  He abandoned himself utterly to his task; and the task molded him into greatness.” 

Here’s a good news. Enthusiasm can be cultivated, according to David Dunn.  He explains: “At first you must consciously put your eyes, your voice, your spirit – in a word, yourself – into your appreciation of people and events and things.  Do this around your home, at your work, in your social contacts, and you will be surprised how quickly it will become second nature.  You will find yourself living in a more gracious and enthusiastic world, for your enthusiasm will be reflected back to you from the people to whom you give it.” 

“Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul,” Douglas MacArthur reminds. — ###

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One response to “Zest for life

  1. I can assure readers that applying the “as if” principle with enthusiasm does work. As a successful entrepreneur and speaker this has been part of the foundation of my success. I have also been more than happy to give that knowledge away – in my programs and speeches I often talk of enthusiasm and teach others the act-as-if principle. I have watched others turn around stalled careers, failing marriages, and terrible relationships with others by applying the techniques that this article so nicely summarizes. A good read of Peale’s book helps too.

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