In High Spirits

How to get yourself and your business fired up from the inside out
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the April 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Enthusiasm. What is it, and how do we get it? It comes from the Greek word "enthios," which means "the god within." Isn't that an apt description? Think back to the times you've been enthusiastic about something. Think of how enthusiasm has provided you with the energy you need to keep going and the will to take whatever action is necessary.

What does enthusiasm have to do with sales? Everything. It is the outward manifestation of our inner passion. Enthusiasm often carries us far beyond any skill or talent we may have. Take two people who are vying for a job. One has enthusiasm and energy, but not much experience. The other one has experience and is-at least on paper-smarter, but lacks energy. Who would I hire? The person who demonstrates enthusiasm.

Experienced salespeople are a dime a dozen. Give me someone with passion or drive; they'll go much further than anybody else. Sure, you need to have a skills set and be knowledgeable. And you have to be able to set goals and know your customers. But without enthusiasm, you'll be pulling yourself uphill all the way.

Here are four keys that will help you to increase and maintain your sense of enthusiasm:

1. Learn something new every day. I've said this before, but I can't emphasize it enough. When you begin to understand something at a deeper level, your passion for it begins to brew. Human beings, like water, become stagnant without movement. In fact, if we stand still, we may actually move backward as the business world keeps moving forward without us. Ask yourself every day, What new thing did I learn today?

2. Revel in the smallest steps toward success. Acknowledge whatever forward movement you're taking, no matter how small-even small steps, if steady, will get you to your destination. We often get into a rut, our enthusiasm dragging behind, because we're waiting for the "big reward" to push us forward. But often the best way to push enthusiasm ahead is to get a series of minor successes going with little activities.

Progress alone can generate excitement. When you're generating activity, it drives you to work harder, to do more, to learn more about your business, industry and customers. It spurs you to make those extra calls, even though it's late and you're tired and no one would be the wiser if you just stopped right where you were.

3. Set your goals and stick to them. You start the day at a disadvantage if you get up every morning thinking, What am I doing? Where am I going? How will I get there? Enthusiasm naturally increases when we have something ahead of us to shoot for. Passion creates the pathway that pulls us forward like a magnet in the direction we've set for ourselves.

If your enthusiasm is waning, re-establish your goals. Remind yourself of long-term rewards and how much closer you are to them now than when you started out. This will make it easier for you to get through the rough times-to get past the obstacles and over the rejections.

4. Protect your environment. This is the most important key to building and maintaining enthusiasm. When you're around people who are not supportive, when you're constantly battling those who would bring you down, it's almost impossible to remain positive and enthusiastic.

No matter how strong you are, if you are surrounded by pessimistic people, you will be drawn down their slippery slope. If you can't rid these people from your life, then spend as little time as possible with them and shield yourself from their negative influence.

Remember that your passion is contagious. It gets your customers excited-they don't just want to buy your product, they want to buy the energy and vivacity you bring with it. Enthusiasm is an ardor, a zeal for living that buoys our spirits and gives us energy. It makes us feel good, empowered and spirited, as if the god within was giving our lives a lift, a shine and a clear path toward success.

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