The Power of Enthusiasm

Eckhart and Oprah: Models of enthusiasm!
Eckhart and Oprah: Models of enthusiasm!

I was in a coaching session the other day and something came up that, immediately afterward, I thought, "This is something I have to share." My client, a writer, was frustrated because he was showing up every day to commit to his writing, but he wasn't feeling it. Something was missing and he couldn't quite put his finger on it. This is actually something that I uncover all too often in coaching sessions — people doing the right things, making progress toward their goals (or not), but somehow feeling "off" about the entirety of it all. A lot of times, it turns out that they're lacking perhaps the most important part of the process, and that, my friends, is ENTHUSIASM.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I am a huge fan of Eckhart Tolle, and in his book A New Earth, Tolle defines enthusiasm as "...a deep enjoyment in what you do plus the added element of a goal or a vision that you work toward." The idea there is one of harmony — it's not that you just have a deep enjoyment of something, nor that you just have a goal. It's a combination of the two, each feeding the other. Tolle goes on to say, "At the height of creative activity fueled by enthusiasm, there will be enormous intensity and energy behind what you do. You will feel like an arrow that is moving toward the target — and enjoying the journey."

Those of you who've ever experienced that kind of enthusiasm know that it's one of the most incredible feelings in the world. It makes the work suddenly not feel like work. Your ego detaches from the experience and your inner critics fade into the background. Everything feels right. And this is supremely important when it comes to working toward your goals because without enthusiasm, that journey becomes a real slog. It doesn't matter if you're working toward what you want — if you're not enthused about how you're going to get there, you're not going to want to put the effort in.

This is what happens when your enthusiasm is curbed…

This is what happens when your enthusiasm is curbed…

So what happens when you lose your enthusiasm? Does that mean you should just throw in the towel and move on? No. It's not the end of the road. When this happens to my clients, I try to get them to take a look at their goal and remember what it was that got them so excited in the first place. Revisiting that initial enthusiasm is often enough to get a spark going again — think of that goal in its purest sense and how it makes you feel when you imagine accomplishing it. Hopefully, you get a rush of adrenaline or some butterflies in your stomach, and this is what you need to channel when approaching the work that needs to do be done in order to reach that goal. Excitement and sense of purpose — that's enthusiasm.

And what if you revisit your goal and the excitement's just not there? Well, then it's time to reevaluate. What's changed since you set that goal? Was your initial enthusiasm fleeting? Is there something else that has captivated you since then? Whatever it is needs to be addressed, because without enthusiasm, the chances of you succeeding are slim. This is something we do often in coaching sessions — when the enthusiasm fades, we go to the core of the matter and evaluate the overarching goal, poking and prodding it to find out what the issues are and what can be done to reignite the passion that was originally there. Sometimes it's a simple process, and other times it involves tearing the goal apart and rebuilding it from scratch. In either case, it's worth it.

This idea of enthusiasm has always been at the heart of what we do at Capes Coaching, which is why we end up focusing on it so often in coaching sessions — particularly as it applies to careers in the arts. As Eckhart Tolle says, "Sustained enthusiasm brings into existence a wave of creative energy, and all you have to do then is ride the wave." I love that. But if that weren't powerful enough, he quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson in saying, "Nothing great has ever been achieved without enthusiasm." Now that's something to get enthused about!