In another time, another life, before I veered off into the path of becoming a psychotherapist, later becoming known as “The Weight Loss Guru”, I was the CEO of a small chain of furniture stores. One day, while touring one of the stores, I spotted a sign the store manager had posted in the break room: “Those who are not fired with enthusiasm soon will be!”
The scary sign had appeared soon after a sales trainer I had hired preached that enthusiasm was the single most important ingredient for success in sales, as well as every other aspect in the operation of a business. My manager’s sign was not quite the lesson I had hoped would be remembered, but alas, it was a truism. Success, and even survival, were not possible without this vital ingredient.
Today, I am known as the clinician who “healed thyself” when I lost 140 pounds permanently with The Anderson Method, a weight loss program that has become recognized nationally and spread internationally. In the years since that business lesson, I have become an expert in human behavior and dysfunction and teach recovery from the most difficult of challenges. The importance of that lesson about enthusiasm has only multiplied.
In that lesson we learned that in order to be really successful, in order to be fully alive and fulfilling our true potential, we needed to be filled with real enthusiasm. Success, especially with difficult things, requires us to summon all the energy we can muster, and invest it in the mission. We cannot be even remotely apathetic, “cool” or blasé about things. And we learned that enthusiasm referred to the spirit or God (Theos) within us (en+theos).
So, here we were, learning, from an established business trainer, that our success in business depended on a spiritual quality, energy that came from something inside us. It was not something that we needed to get. It was already in us, what made us alive. If we did not know it or sense it, getting it was a matter of getting in touch with it, becoming aware of it, giving life to it and drawing on it. Enthusiasm was not an intellectual thing, related to being smart or educated or skilled. It was a spirit. It was not something to be acquired from the outside world. It was an energy already within us, perhaps untapped, but waiting to be called upon and unleashed. What is it? How do we experience it? How do we put it to work? What are its’ characteristics?
Passion is feeling, emotion, strong emotion. Games and wars are not won by those without emotion, who are dispassionate about things. We must really care about what we are doing and be able to express that emotional investment through our words and actions. To tap and unleash enthusiasm, we need to feel it and express it, in no uncertain terms, not hold it back.
We need to be genuine. We can’t be faking it. Our passion has to be real, not an act. It has to come from the depths of our soul. If we sign on to a mission, to succeed, we have to believe in it, for real, not pretend. If you can’t be sincerely committed, you need to find a mission you can be passionate about. You have to care, really care about success in this mission. It’s not enough to say it’s important. There has to be integrity, where you mean what you say and say what you mean.
Desire has gotten a bad rap, but wanting or craving is a powerful drive that is the prime motive in many success stories. It’s something we feel from day one, and psychologists have said that “needs reduction” is what causes drive and motivation in us. It’s not an intellectual thing. It’s not something we create. It is part of our psyche that you feel when you spot an object of your desire, be it a love interest, an adornment, a car, a promotion, recognition, a house, a cupcake…. Desire. Wanting it badly.
Wanting springs as an energy from within and takes you with it, so that you dream about it, obsess about it, create ways to make it happen, and you can’t stop it. Sometimes, desires have gotten us into trouble, been harmful, sometimes led to big troubles. Some have said that desire is a sin, a mistake, something we should extinguish. But rather than snuff it out, we need to channel it. Constant craving for food when you are overweight has to go. But consistent strong desire for the well-being of yourself and your loved ones needs to be fueled.
We need to foster the desire for the things that will make our life and our world better — not greed that makes the world worse, but a passion for a better life, a better world. We need to channel that energy and activity to attainments and objects of desire that help instead of harm, that make life better, healthier, happier, whole. A desire for what is good is not a bad thing. Fuel it. Build a fire. Let yourself dream, imagine, crave and picture that which represents real success, so much that you can taste it. Build up a burning desire. That kind of desire and enthusiasm spring from the same well.
Enthusiasm is the natural experience when you love what you are doing. It is the fire you feel when you work for the benefit of what and who you love. It is the opposite of greed. It is the devotion of yourself to something greater than yourself. There is enormous endless energy there. Embrace it.
The Right Gods
Can one be enthused by greed, by hate? Certainly. We choose the spirit we choose to give life to. While we think that we possess spirit when we are enthused, the definition of enthusiasm is to possessed by the spirit. So, we better choose wisely. There are different outcomes with these different spirits within.
Commitment and Success
To commit to something, in the origin of the word, is to “join” or “send with”. When we honestly commit ourselves to a mission, a cause, a goal or to someone we love, we are giving our very selves, our souls, to that process, and there is an energy engaged beyond understanding. It wells up from within and powers us. It is not something only of our own making. It is enthusiasm. If done with the right spirit, it propels us to favorable outcomes (the definition of success) in line with those spirits, loves, missions and goals.
Do you want to be successful? Be enthused.
William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He was an obese heavy smoker and workaholic until his early thirties, and burned out, but survived and changed direction. He changed in many ways, among them, losing 140 pounds permanently. Health, in a holistic way, is now his mission. He is the author of The Anderson Method of Permanent Weight Loss.