Good news: This isn’t a hypothetical question. You really do have a secret weapon (even though you might not know it yet). I’m not going to keep you waiting; I’m just going to spill the beans. The secret weapon that will help you stand out, make an impression, and get people interested in your ideas/products/cause is:
The sad truth is that most people hold back on their enthusiasm. They keep it bottled up inside because they are scared. Scared of what, you ask? Scared of looking silly. Scared of making a mistake in their joyful abandon. Scared of looking stupid or appearing unsophisticated, immature, unprofessional … you get the idea.
You see, somewhere along the line, some jerk told us that it’s not okay to be all happy and enthusiastic about stuff. We’re supposed to grow up, be serious, attend to the Important Things with decorum, authority, and levelheaded perspective. As Srinivas Rao from the Skool of Life puts it, “some well intentioned jackass tells us to be realistic, pragmatic, and practical.” (Which is just one small reason why I enjoy Srini’s blog so much.)
Sadly, happy people are often looked down upon. (Crazy, right?) We assume that they must be missing something. We’re suspicious of people who smile too much. What image comes to mind when I say “village idiot.” How about the expression “grinning like the cat that ate the canary”? See what I mean?
The danger we can easily forget is that sometimes the jerk telling us to simmer down is US. We are the ones who are reining in our unbridled enthusiasm. For all the reasons mentioned above, we decide – through some twisted anti-logic – that it’s smarter to keep our eagerness, zeal, and exuberance under wraps.
That stuff is rocket fuel, baby. It’s the magic juice that can send you (and your business) to the moon. Is it scary to let loose and be open and vocal and LOUD about the things that really turn you on? Is it scary to get up on a soapbox and proclaim your beliefs and passions to the world? Hell, yes. Someone might not like it. Someone might not like you. Someone might tell you you’re wrong. Someone might (gasp!) laugh at you.
Maybe it’s that I’m officially “over the hill” (and swiftly approaching “middle age”). Maybe it’s because I’m somebody’s mom (and have learned not to take life so damn seriously). Maybe it’s because I’ve been through a divorce (and come out stronger, braver, and more “me” on the other side). Whatever it is, I’m starting to just not give a rat’s ass about measuring up to someone else’s standards … even if they are the standards of the annoying, dream-killer voice in. my. own. head.
SO … how can you start cultivating your own enthusiasm? Step #1: know that it already exists. You’ve had it inside you forever. You may not let it out very often, but it’s there. You don’t need to create your enthusiasm; you just need to unchain it. Remember when you were a kid and you wanted something so bad that you’d do anything to get it? Remember jumping up and down in excitement? Remember when you thought it was not only okay, but a good thing to be happy? Go back to that place. If you need some help getting there – here are some tips inspired by the world’s most unabashedly enthusiastic souls: dogs.
If you’re not feeling your enthusiasm naturally bubbling up from your heart, start from the outside and work your way in. Put a big, ol’ grin on your mug and see how it feels … see if it doesn’t start your enthusiasm engine rumbling. Though we may be suspicious of people who we think smile “too much,” we are – in general – drawn to people who are smiling. They seem more approachable. Try using a Big Smile in your avatar for your website, blog, and social profiles. See what happens.
Indulge your curiosity.
You don’t need to know everything. It’s okay to be ignorant of some things. And it’s more than okay to be curious and to let your curiosity show. Curiosity is often the spark that ignites enthusiasm. We are intrigued by something and then lean in for a closer look, and suddenly we’re learning and exploring and it feels good and – bam! – enthusiasm explodes. Ask people questions. Be interested in what they are doing and saying. This is an excellent way to make new friends (and contacts).
Enthusiasm is best when shared. Don’t keep your newly released joy trapped inside. Reach out to other people. Share your excitement and passion. You might be surprised at how people react. Sure, they may be a little stand offish at first, but be patient. They’ll come around. Maybe they’ll even share their enthusiasm with you. Reach out to people through blog posts, comments, etc. If you write or share something and think a particular person might really like it, tell them!
Let your freak flag fly.
It’s okay to be different. In the world of branding and marketing, it’s actually fabulous. Don’t hide the eccentricity of your enthusiasm. Let it out. Be proud of it. If the thing that makes your heart sing also inspires you to dance in the streets, shout from the rooftops, or run around giving out free hugs – do that. As much as you might start out feeling like an outsider, there are other people out there who feel exactly as you do and believe in the same things. Use your enthusiasm to broadcast how you feel and they will find you and be loyal supporters.
Finally, if you feel happy, let it show! As our canine friends often demonstrate – happiness can look a little silly, BUT it also feels really, really good. And – let me tell you – when people are exposed to genuine, honest happiness they can’t help but smile. And you know what happens when they smile? They start to feel good and their own enthusiasm starts bubbling up from the depths. That’s when the magic happens.
Enthusiasm alone won’t take you everywhere in life or business, but it’s a great place from which to start. Own your enthusiasm. Embrace it. Use it to light up your face and your message. People will respond.
For an up close and personal look at enthusiasm in action, check out my friends Bernardo and Monica. They have passion to spare and a great style that showcases their irresistible enthusiasm for all the world to see. Bravo, you guys! 😉
What are your thoughts on enthusiasm? Do you let loose, or play it a little closer to the vest? Have you seen enthusiasm work for an individual or brand?