There's never a need to curb your enthusiasm

The old cartoon strip character Calvin, from "Calvin and Hobbes," once said the difference between him and the rest of the world was, "Happiness isn't good enough for me! I demand euphoria!"

Calvin is right. You must live with enthusiasm. It's one of the most important keys to success.

One of life's greatest tragedies is that the curiosity, enthusiasm and excitement about life that we are born with seem to erode as the years go by. When the challenges of daily life get in the way, it is easy to spend more energy on putting out little fires than on sparking enthusiasm for overcoming those challenges.

Henry Ford once said, "You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. ... Enthusiasm is the spark in your eye, the swing in the gait, the grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of your will and your energy to execute your ideas. Enthusiasm is at the bottom of all progress. With it, there is accomplishment. Without it, there are only alibis."

You may recall Henry Ford's early struggles to make his fledgling company successful. Enthusiasm prevented him from giving in to setbacks and pressure.

When my own enthusiasm wanes, and it sometimes does, I look for inspiration from three of my favorite resources. Their advice is timeless, far-reaching and well worth revisiting any time you feel your spirit flagging.

"Enthusiasm is the priceless quality that makes everything different. The men and women who achieve the most are invariably inspired by enthusiasm. They approach life, its opportunities and its problems with this vital characteristic," said Norman Vincent Peale, author of "The Power of Positive Thinking."

"Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success," according to Dale Carnegie, one of the most successful inspirational writers of all time. Do you know his books "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living"? They are great first steps to cultivating enthusiasm for living.

Napoleon Hill, another of my favorite authors, says in his classic work "The Laws of Success in 16 Lessons" that enthusiasm in life is an essential ingredient for success.

Hill says some people are born with a natural enthusiasm, and some people have to develop it. How? Simple, he says. Work at something you love.

That's easier said than done, you might say, but you can be enthusiastic in practically anything you do, no matter how mundane. Change is possible. Attitude is key.

Let me tell you a story that my friend the late Charlie "Tremendous" Jones shared with me about a guy who dreamed he inherited a million dollars. He dreamed he went to take a shower that morning and the shower wouldn't shower. He started to shave and the shaver wouldn't shave. He went to get some coffee and the coffee wouldn't perk, and the toaster wouldn't toast. He went to get the newspaper, but the newspaper wasn't there. He went to catch the bus and the bus didn't come. He waited 45 minutes, and finally a guy came puffing down the street.

"What's going on here?" he asked, and the guy gasped, "Haven't you heard? Everybody inherited a million dollars! Nobody's working!"

Just then the man woke up. And he went and had a tremendous shower and a tremendous shave and a tremendous cup of coffee and a tremendous piece of toast. He read a tremendous newspaper and caught a tremendous bus to a tremendous job!

Mackay's Moral: There is one thing more contagious than enthusiasm, and that is the lack of enthusiasm.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail harvey@mackay.com.

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