Ralph Waldo Emerson called it the Mother of Effort. Dale Carnegie likened it to a flame. And the wise will discover the power of enthusiasm and how to make it work for them.
Enthusiasm paves the way for a lot more in your working life than you might think. People who think they’ve done enough just because they turn up and do their job will miss out on the secret power of enthusiasm and how to make it work for them.
Enthusiasm makes you attractive to employers
Think about it: who would you employ – the candidate who turns up at the interview and asks insightful questions backed up by careful research, or the one who struggles to ask any questions at all?
Who would you promote – the employee who does just the basics to cover his back or the one who puts the extra mile into his work?
When it comes down to it we all know who we would choose – the one who demonstrates passion, interest and energy.
As you probably know, enthusiasm is one of the soft skills employers look for in graduates, and there’s very good reasons for this. Enthusiasm shows you are interested in and committed to the job, and this makes you a better and safer bet than someone who isn’t.
Enthusiasm drives you to make a difference
But enthusiasm doesn’t only earn you favours with recruiters and employers. It can also benefit you in lots of personal ways. Two years ago, out of the 24 biomedical equipment technicians working at St Anthony’s Central hospital in Denver, only two were certified. The other 22 had the experience they needed to do the job and saw no need to go through the process of studying to sit an examination for certification. Why should they? Why put yourself through all that unnecessary effort considering you already have the job?
But Tim Keenan, team manager, wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to see more of his colleagues go for certification so as to increase commitment and dedication to the profession. So, what did he do to increase enthusiasm among staff?
“We created a study group and made it available to all team members,” he said. Tim and the one other qualified technician garnered support from other professionals in the field and got them to teach on their areas of expertise. The result was “incredible interest and enthusiasm around the momentum created”. One study group turned to three and after two years, all but one of the 24 biomedical equipment technicians were certified. The remaining one had taken the exam three times and so it was only a matter of time before the team would be at 100 per cent.
Enthusiasm empowers you to do a better job
What this did is it also changed the topic of discussions during lunch and tea breaks. Whereas previously these focused on the usual politics, local events and casual conversation, now, with all the studying taking place and newfound interest in their work, conversation now focused on test questions and biomed theory – from cardia output zeroing to integrating amplifiers. What’s that all mean? Who cares? The point is that this newfound enthusiasm around their work led to a team of technicians who were better qualified and informed about their field and, therefore, able both to do a better job and to enjoy it more. They had a greater sense of personal pride and achievement. And, ironically, it was Tim’s own enthusiasm that made it all happen.
How to become more enthusiastic
Well, you may say, I just don’t feel enthusiastic. How does one find enthusiasm and show it? Good question.
Enthusiasm is infectious. Surrounding yourself with enthusiastic people rubs off on you and will help you feel enthusiastic too. This is partly because when a person is enthusiastic about something they will talk about it passionately. They will see connections the rest of us miss. They will have a grasp and perspective that helps other people see things differently.
The same is true with action. When we see other people act enthusiastic this can make us feel more inspired. This explains in part why an employer or recruiter feels more drawn to a person who acts enthusiastic at an interview or at work. Their enthusiasm is received as energy that makes the employer feel energised. The opposite is also true: people who lack enthusiasm can make us feel drained and we will naturally do all we can, whether consciously or not, to avoid them.
Enthusiasm grows when we make our minds up to do our best. Setting a goal to work towards can also help. Another great energiser is to learn more about your job area, company, field or industry. Many a time the reason for lack of enthusiasm is lack of knowledge or understanding. To overcome this, research the company’s background. Find out more about the achievements of the CEO, team members, or others who have previously held the role you are going for or are currently doing. Dig up information on the company’s competitors. Take an interest in what the most pressing issues are that face your industry. Or start (or join) a professional study group, just as the Denver biomedical technicians did.
Without enthusiasm the disease of apathy will set in and working life for yourself and others around you will become a drag. If you’re unemployed, you will find it very hard to get a worthwhile job.
Of course, it is difficult to generate enthusiasm for something you genuinely aren’t interested in but, if that’s the case, then at least you will now know what you don’t want.