Are You Afraid Of Enthusiasm?


I collect quotes – I’ve got half-a-dozen journals filled with quotes. A couple of weeks ago, I opened a journal and came across this quote from the French poet, Apollinaire:

“Come to the edge, Life said. We are afraid, they said. Come to the edge, Life said. They came to the edge. Life pushed them and they flew.”

I shared this quote with my client Eugenie (name changed) a few days ago.

Eugenie loves to read self-help books. She’s even thought that someday she’d like to work as a motivational speaker. For now, though, she’s a computer analyst at an international tech company. This past year she’s been asked to give guided tours to inner-city middle-schoolers. The hope is that the kids can see there is a wide choice of careers in life and especially that girls can have a role to play in the high-tech world.

Eugenie is not as comfortable as she’d like to be when speaking. While she does an adequate job, she knows she could be so much better. One of the things that puzzle her is the issue of ‘enthusiasm’. She’s concerned that if she’s too excited, too “bubbly” in her talk with the kids, they won’t take her seriously.

Eugenie has convinced herself that giving these kids the facts of what she does, without too much enthusiasm, will let them see that what she does is serious and important work.

Passion, though, is just what these kids need to see in a grown-up! They need the love.

I pointed out that someday she hopes to become a motivational, self-help speaker, so why not start now? She looked stunned when I asked this. She explained that her work is not inspiring and is rather mundane. When I asked why she does it, she quickly responded, “Oh, I enjoy it!” She then elaborated on all the aspects where she derives satisfaction.

I again asked why she thinks sharing the pleasures of her job would make kids not take her seriously. I then challenged her, “Why not use these school tours as an opportunity to practice being a motivational speaker?”

She responded with the all too familiar words:

“I’m afraid I won’t do a good job.”

“You mean a ‘perfect’ job” I corrected her. She smiled.

In other posts I’ve urged that you to commit to doing something you’ve put off doing for too long. Go Big! Go Bold! I’ve written. However, the truth is, you don’t have to do something huge in order to “go big.” Little things can be bold things.

I suggested to Eugenie that she doesn’t have to turn her entire talk into a motivational spiel. All she has to do is something she’s never done before in her talk.

That means, all she has to do at the end is say something like, “As much as I enjoy my job, I know that I won’t be working at this company forever – because there are so many things I want to do in life, with my life. And you can, too.”

If Eugenie says those two sentences to the kids, she will have done something bold.

She will have gone to the edge of her fear and allowed Life to push her. I guarantee she’ll fly.

What about you?

What bold “little” thing can you do that will let YOU fly?





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