Sunday, June 9, 2013

Creating Enthusiasm

W. Clement Stone

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge
Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Yesterday I was challenged to write 50 more blogs in about 20 days.
Yesterday I was excited by that challenge. 
Yesterday I wrote two more.
Yesterday I felt full of enthusiasm, purpose and determination.
Today I woke up and thought, “What’s the point?” 
All my excitement was gone.  I felt like Solomon who wrote in Ecclesiastes, “Meaningless.  Meaningless.  Everything is meaningless.”
But I decided to do two things:
1.     I decided to sit down and write anyway.
2.     I decided to take these feelings and use them as today’s content.

This is one of my challenges when setting goals; my enthusiasm fades.  What was exciting and life giving suddenly becomes mundane and life draining.  I remember when I was in college and how excited I would be at the beginning of every semester or quarter.  At every new beginning I would say, “This time I’m really going to study!  I’m going to read all the material!  I’m going to study every day!  I’m going to get the highest grades I can!”
Within a couple of weeks however, I was repeating familiar habits.  Now in my defense, I was working two jobs and involved in my church, but looking back, I don’t see that as much of a defense.  I didn’t always give my best on my job either.  I often had a poor attitude and I was lazy. 
It’s no surprise that my laziness was not restricted to one area.  Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Physic states this:
An object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by a force. An object in motion remains in motion, and at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.

I was an object at rest.  I rested everywhere I could.  At school.  At work.  At
church.  And the best part of all, was that I could excuse my laziness by saying, “Oh, I’m so busy with all my commitments!” 
I don’t know if anyone believed this excuse.  I didn’t. 
An excuse is nothing but a lie with some facts conveniently rearranged to make it look better than it really is.  It’s true that I had other commitments, but –
1.     I chose those commitments.
2.     I chose not to do my best in any of them.

The only thing that gets a body at rest to move is force.  So, I was often forced by deadlines, lack of money or the threat of poor grades to get moving.  But by then it was too late and I wound up getting average grades and doing average work and making average amounts of money.
“Average” is not a nice word.  It’s really another word for failure with only a little amount of effort and perhaps a little luck thrown in.  Once in a while I got a B or even an A, but most of my grades were C’s with a few D’s thrown in for bad measure.
Now there were exceptions.  I did work hard sometimes.  I remember the best report card I got at UCSD, two B’s and an A.  Here’s what else I remember:
·      How good I felt about myself
·      All the good work those grades represented
·      Holding that report card on a warm Friday evening in early June as the sun was setting and the air was perfect
·      The song Reminiscing by the Little River Band playing on the radio
·      Smiling, inside and out
·      The complete peace and joy of that moment
·      Realizing I was ready for the challenge of taking four classes instead of three.

I also remember that I had done a lot of work to get to that moment, but I only remember a little of the work.   Mostly I remember how good I felt.
Here are the rewards I have had for giving my best effort:
·      Greater self-esteem
·      Peace
·      The work itself
·      Being able to set an example
·      And sometimes, just sometimes, I am compensated with grades or money or praise. 

"When I started writing this morning, I had no enthusiasm for it. None.  Sometimes we have little enthusiasm for our work.  I had to create my own enthusiasm by sitting down and writing.  The enthusiasm comes during the work, not before it.  There truly is no substitute for action.  None."
And despite the seeming difficulty, it’s easy.  I just have to Get Started and Keep Going.