Would you rather work with people who hate what they are doing, or people who love what they are doing?
Obviously, it is more enjoyable to be around those who love what they are doing–their enthusiastic attitude is contagious, which makes the work environment better for everyone.
The teaching profession is a prime example of the need to enjoy the work that you do. Think about teachers you had in high school or college – some probably lectured straight from notes or a textbook, while others spoke from their hearts and fostered an environment that encouraged participation. They may or may not have injected humor into their teaching style, but their classes seemed fun and exciting nonetheless.
The two types of teachers differed in their enthusiasm for their work. One was obviously just going through the motions, getting the job done to earn a paycheck. The other one lived his job, involved himself in it, and cared enough about the students to create a true learning environment. The first simply recited the information and the students were responsible for listening, taking notes and trying to stay awake. Either they “got it” or they didn’t. The enthusiastic teacher encouraged two-way learning and interacted with students.
The same working environment can house completely different styles of work. Which teacher do you think received a higher level of personal fulfillment from his job?
This example reminds me of a story Zig Ziglar told at one of his seminars. A group of railroad workers were standing around the tracks one day when a large limousine pulled up and the president of the company stepped out. He walked up to one of the workers and said, “Hello, Bob, how are you?” Bob replied, “I’m doing great, Gene, thanks for asking.”
After the president left the work site, the other workers, visibly impressed, asked Bob how he came to know the president of the company on a first-name basis. Bob told them that they had started out working together for the railroad company 20 years ago.
The other workers asked the obvious question. How was it that Bob still worked in the yard, while his friend had advanced to become president of the railroad company?
Bob explained, “Twenty years ago when we started together, I went to work for the paycheck. Gene went to work for the railroad company.”
Gene may or may not have had a goal of becoming company president one day, but one thing is assured – he cared about what he did and had a passion for his work. To start at the bottom and work his way to the top took a lot of enthusiasm and hard work.
And enthusiastic people often find more success. People like to be around them, and their excitement about what their company is doing or selling gets others excited about it too.
In some people, the enthusiasm is there, but it is not always apparent in the traditional ways. A friend of mine is a speaker, but when he begins a presentation the audience probably questions his choice of profession. He stands still behind a lectern and speaks in a dull, monotone voice. Early in his presentation, audience members can be seen stealing frequent glances at their watches, counting the time until the next break.
But a few minutes in, something changes. He doesn’t move around, or change his style of speaking, yet his enthusiasm for the subject matter still comes through. The audience members can tell that he truly has valuable information to share and he cares about it. Fifteen or 20 minutes in, they are on the edge of their seats, engrossed in his presentation.
So it is OK if you are not perfect at something such as public speaking–if you care about your business it will still come through. Maybe it will show as a twinkle in your eye, or simply through your deep knowledge and understanding, and your audience – or customers or coworkers–will pick up on that. If you truly have that enthusiasm, it will be apparent.
And if you don’t, that will be apparent also. Enthusiasm is contagious. And, as fellow professional speaker Danny Cox says, if you have an attitude other than enthusiasm it will also be contagious!