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Enthusiasm VIP - Commentary
Hello, this is A.J. and welcome to the Commentary for this month’s lesson. The subject, enthusiasm, is a favorite topic of mine and I kind of think of it as a very old topic for me, meaning that when I look at my own life and whatever I’ve learned and however I’ve grown and whatever successes I’ve had, I can go back and I can find the root in the far, far past in my life in enthusiasm.
I think way, way back to when I was young before I was even out of school, and I can see the roots of a lot of the successes I’ve had all the way back then. The roots of that really were from enthusiasm because I’ve always been very enthusiastic in my life.
I’ve always had things in my life that I’ve been excited about. I’ve always been curious about trying new things, but more than just curious. Curious means that you like to investigate things, you like to learn things, you’re interested in new things.
Certainly that’s been true for me, but enthusiasm is much more than that because it’s possible to be curious about something but not enthusiastic, meaning you just look at it, you play with it a little bit and then you go to something else and then something else.
In my life, I have gotten enthusiastic about certain things. Always in my life I’ve had a few things that I’m really enthusiastic about at the moment. I can think way, way, way back when I was a kid and I was super enthusiastic about sports, like playing baseball and football when I was a little kid. Riding my bike and certain things like that.
Then when I got older, I got really enthusiastic about martial arts for many years, and I really poured a lot of energy into it. I loved it. I just had so much fun and really focused on it for a long time. I got really into science fiction and fantasy and gaming at a certain point in my life also when I was young. This is still when I was a kid.
When we talk about enthusiasm, what we’re talking about is this sustained excitement.
That’s maybe the way you could think about it. We can get excited about something in a moment. Right now I could say oh you won a million dollars, yay, and you’d get excited but enthusiasm is more than excitement.
Excitement is fleeting. Fleeting means that it leaves quickly. It does not last long.
Excitement can come and it can be very strong even, but the problem with excitement is that if it comes and goes quickly, you can’t build success, you can’t build much learning on it, you certainly can’t build mastery on it.
Enthusiasm, however, is this kind of sustained excitement for something, the passionate interest in something that is sustained. It keeps going and going and going and in fact in many ways it builds and gets stronger and stronger and stronger.
There are so many things we talk about that are important, but I think enthusiasm is really, really, really deep – meaning it’s at the root of so much success in so many parts of life for so many people.
Another reason I say it’s at the root is because it’s often the very first thing you need. It’s often the thing that starts you on the path to great success, great mastery in some area.
Of course when we start something, anything, we don’t have skill. In fact, we’re not good at whatever it is.
So, if we don’t have enthusiasm for it, this kind of sustained interest and excitement for it, then typically we’re not going to get much better, or we may force ourselves and push ourselves for a while but it’s unlikely we will achieve a very high level of success in that area.
I’ve experienced this in my own life with music, for example. I really enjoy listening to music. At points in my life, I’ve gotten the idea that I wanted to play some instrument.
When I was kid, I played the trumpet for a couple years. I joined the little school band and I played the trumpet, and I was excited about it.
See, this is the difference here. I was excited about it at the beginning. I don’t know why.
I saw the band playing and I thought it would be cool. So, I got excited about the trumpet and then I practiced and practiced for a while, but then the excitement got less and less because it started feeling more like work.
It was something that had to be done indoors. You had to practice it alone indoors most of the time at home to get better. As a kid, I hated to be indoors. I wanted to be running around outside. My parents punished me by locking me in the house. That’s all they had to do. They didn’t have to hit me, just keep me in the house and I was miserable.
So, I kind of lost my excitement for the trumpet quite quickly. I kept doing it for a while longer, I think almost two years, but more and more my parents had to force me to practice, and eventually I didn’t hate the trumpet but I hated being indoors practicing by myself and never developed that enthusiasm to keep myself going.
Then later on when I was in high school, I thought it would be cool to play the drums because that’s a very physical thing. I still think that the drums out of any instrument probably would fit me the best for my personality. Banging away on drums, it would really fit me, but unfortunately drums are really, really, really loud, so my parents said no, you can’t play the drums.
Then I tried guitar instead, and it was basically the same pattern as the trumpet. I started off with excitement but then more and more and more I had to force myself to practice. I never got that enthusiasm.
More recently, maybe a year or two ago, I thought I’ll learn the bass and it was basically the same pattern again. Interesting. This is what happens typically if there’s not enthusiasm. On the other hand, with traveling I immediately had an intense enthusiasm.
Certainly I was very excited about my first trip abroad, but it’s something that just kept growing and growing and growing, this genuine enthusiasm, this love, this deep passion for it. That has been the case for writing. I enjoy writing and I’ve had a passion and enthusiasm for it for a long time.
Teaching and speaking and being an entrepreneur – all the things that are connected to Effortless English – I’ve had this enthusiasm for that, that has only gotten stronger and stronger and stronger. That’s often the pattern of enthusiasm. You start off excited and if it grows then, that’s where you really get enthusiasm for something.
It’s the most powerful thing. Enthusiasm is really the fuel, the energy for persistence.
They really go together. You could think of two kinds of persistence. They’re both useful.
One kind of persistence comes from just toughness and determination and willpower.
That’s where you must accomplish something. It’s really tough and difficult and maybe it’s unpleasant and maybe even miserable.
Sometimes there are these things in life but we have to do them anyway, and we’ve got to just keep going and going and pushing ourselves and not quit. That’s a certain kind of persistence, a kind of tough persistence. It is useful in life to have that in certain situations.
That kind of toughness, usually it gets you through difficult times. It gets you through difficult problems, but that kind of persistence – which is more willpower, toughness – it does not usually lead to mastery of something or fantastic success.
The other kind of persistence is the persistence that comes from truly loving something, having this incredible enthusiasm and passion for it. That’s the kind of persistence that really leads to amazing successes.
When you have that enthusiasm, when you truly, truly just love something and you just love doing it, you love getting better at it, you love learning it but you also love right now.
You just love it, love it, love it so much and you’re just so excited about it, and the excitement just grows and grows and grows.
That gives you this kind of amazing fuel or gasoline for persistence. Enthusiasm lets you just crash through obstacles and walls and problems and just keep going. You keep going because you love doing it. This is what I think a lot of the great athletes do – most of them, the ones that really do well, people like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.
Are they determined? Of course they are. Do they work really hard? Yes. Do they do tough things? Yes, but they also have this incredible passion and enthusiasm for the game. It’s obvious that there’s something deep there that they just love, this kind of fire that they have for the game.
You see this with certain really great businesspeople like Steve Jobs had for Apple.
Richard Branson has that, the Virgin leader. There’s just something more than determination. It’s a love, a deep passion.
I guess the next question would be is this something that you can create or do you just discover it? I think you can build it. I think that maybe there are some things in life where you might have a little enthusiasm maybe at the beginning, a little excitement, not so strong and if you keep putting your attention on that area of your life, then you kind of feed it and let it grow and grow and grow.
At least in my own experience, I have found it’s not something you can force or create.
I’ve tried to do it with music, for example. I love the idea of getting up and playing guitar or bass or something, but the truth is I just don’t have the enthusiasm for actually doing it.
I like the idea of it. I like the idea of the goal and the end result of it, but the actual process of playing and practicing and all of that, I just don’t have the enthusiasm and I’m not sure it’s something you can force. I’ve tried forcing it and it hasn’t worked for me very well.
On the other hand, I recently learned how to kitesurf last year, also a very difficult process. It was actually frightening at times. I worried about drowning and yet I just quickly developed this enthusiasm for it. I tend to like physical things. I like doing things physically outside in nature, so it had that. I like being in the water.
Even though for my first 10 or 15 lessons I’m just being dragged through the water – I had this big kite. It looks like a parachute, just dragging me through the water. I was not standing on a board. It’s just dragging me around and the water’s in my face. I’m swallowing it and I’m coughing. It was not very fun, yet something kept me going.
There was something about it that I just got more and more excited about and enthusiastic about. Of course, once I started riding that increased incredibly. I’m really excited about it now. In fact, it’s expanded now to snowboarding. I tried snowboarding last year and there are a lot of things that are similar to kitesurfing, so I immediately felt this passion and excitement for snowboarding.
It’s interesting. I don’t know what it is. It’s just finding things that fit you and fit your personality. I think the smartest strategy in life is not to force yourself to do things that you think you should master or should do well. I think the smarter strategy is to find things in your life that you are passionate and enthusiastic about, and focus on building that passion more and more and more.
That’s the faster way to success in anything. It’s also much more enjoyable. Why succeed at something that you don’t really truly love, because then even if you succeed you’re still not very happy?
If I hated teaching English and teaching and speaking, and if hated traveling and I hated being an entrepreneur and running my own company, I’d be successful now in one way but on the other hand I’d be miserable because I’d doing all these things that I didn’t love. That’s not really success.
Unfortunately, this happens in life to a good number of people, where they get stuck doing jobs or doing things in general that they’re not really passionate about, they’re not enthusiastic about.
Then even if they become very good at those things, even if many people respect them because they’re very skilled at those things, they’re still not happy because they don’t have that passion, and they usually have to work a lot harder as well to become successful at something that they’re not passionate about.
You don’t want to do that. I never had this big success plan in my life. When I was a teenager or in my 20’s or in my 30’s, I never decided someday I will be successful. I will start a company teaching English and then I’ll be able to travel and live like a rock star.
That was not my plan. In fact, there was no big long-term plan at all, except to just jump into things I was passionate about. It was travel for a while. For a while it was science fiction and gaming, and writing for a while. I just kept jumping into these things and I would do them for several years, and I’d build the skills that were part of that, but mostly too I just loved and enjoyed doing them.
I just would keep doing that and then I would find something else, and then eventually things worked out with Effortless English, but I’m still doing that. There are still many things that I do in my life that I’m enthusiastic about that aren’t going to make me any money or anything like that, but I still doing them. Wonderful, great, travel for example.
That’s me. What about you? It’s never too late. We’ve already had a number of lessons on that topic. It’s never too late. Whatever your age, maybe you’re 18 or 19 or maybe you’re 79 or 99 I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. The question you have to ask yourself is what are you enthusiastic about? Do I spend enough time doing that?
Are you spending your day doing things that you love, that you’re passionate about, enthusiastic about? Is that what you spend most of your time doing, or do you spend most of your time doing stuff that other people think you should be doing or that you think that you must do. That’s no fun at all.
What I want you to do is first of all figure out your passions, figure out what you’re enthusiastic about. Find that enthusiasm for something in your life, and then just spend more time doing it. If you’re not sure, then get out there and try some new thing and whenever you feel some excitement for something, focus on it for a while.
Then just notice if the excitement keeps increasing, that’s great and that’s something you really and if the excitement goes away then it’s okay, go to something else. Just let it open, there’s no secret to enthusiasm other than when you find it, just open up and let it go. Don’t try to control it. Don’t hold it back. Just be a little crazy. Be excited. Be more enthusiastic than other people. It is the root of most great successes in life, so explore your enthusiasm, eat it and let it grow.
I’ll see you next time. Bye.
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