Thursday, January 19, 2012

Enthusiasm Takes You Further

     Years ago, when I went looking for my first job, wise advisers urged, “Barbara, be enthusiastic! Enthusiasm will take you further than any amount of experience.”

     How right they were. Enthusiastic people can turn a boring drive into an adventure, extra work into opportunity,  and strangers into friends.

    “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

     It is the paste that helps you hang in there when the going gets tough. It is the inner voice that whispers, “I can do it!” when others shout, “No, you can’t.”
     We are all born with wide-eyed, enthusiastic wonder as anyone knows who has ever seen an infant’s delight at the jingle of keys or the scurrying of a beetle.

      It is this childlike wonder that gives enthusiastic people such a youthful air, whatever their age.
      At 90, cellist Pablo Casals would start his day by playing Bach. As the music flowed through his fingers, his stooped shoulders would straighten and joy would reappear in his eyes. 
     Poet Samuel Ullman wrote, “Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
      How do you rediscover the enthusiasm of  childhood? The answer, I believe, lies in the word itself. “Enthusiasm” comes from the Greek and means “God within.” And what is God within is but an abiding sense of love -- proper love of self (self-acceptance) and, from that, love of others.
       Enthusiastic people love what they do, regardless of money or title or power. If we cannot do what we love as a full-time career, we make it a part-time avocation: the head of state who paints, the nun who runs marathons, the executive who handcrafts furniture. 
       We need to live each moment wholeheartedly, with all our senses -- finding pleasure in a back-yard garden, the crayoned picture of a six-year-old, the  beauty of a rainbow.  Don't waste tears on “might-have-beens.” Turn tears into sweat by going after “what-can-be.”

       Enthusiastic love of life puts a sparkle in our eyes, a lilt in our steps and smooth the wrinkles from our souls.

Monday, January 9, 2012

How high is your A. Q.?

Long before researchers came up with the idea of E.Q.--Emotional Quotient-- I coined the phrase A. Q. or Anxiety Quotient.
It’s my observation that people appear to start life with a built-in level of anxiety--like an inner bucket which we fill to the brim whether our anxiety is about terrorist attacks, earthquakes, or “OMG, are people gonna notice the zit on my chin?”

Another name for people with high A.Q. is Worry Wart. It’s the mom who drives her kid crazy by insisting, “Take a jacket. Just in case.”

Or the wife--in this case, a friend of mine--who told her new husband, “Honey, call if you’re going to be late coming home because if I don’t hear I go from late to death.”
Or the micro-managing boss who anxiously hovers over every project assigned to a subordinate.

High A. Q. can paralyze. We cling to what we know. We huddle in our comfort zone. We turn away from anything new. Or different. We fail to see the power of expanding horizons. We don’t risk.

Is your A.Q high, low, or in between? To lower it, start small. Keep a journal for a week and jot down what makes you anxious. Reread it a week later. Notice how few of your worries actually came to pass.

As for me, I try and remember what Jesus said to encourage his disciples not to be anxious: "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

To learn more about the book on Emotional Quotient, go to