Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.”
“Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Give people something to look forward to and they’ll give you anything you want in return.
Excitement is the most motivating emotion. Excitement is empowering because it puts you in the driver’s seat of your own life. When you’re excited, you want something to happen. You’re no longer worrying about the future, you’re anticipating it. You’re expecting something good. You’re expecting pleasure. And positive expectancy acts to increase happiness and boost self confidence. This means that you can improve your self esteem and mood at any time simply by getting excited.
Excitement is the most charming emotion. Nothing is more magnetic than excitement. When excitement is expressed, it’s called enthusiasm, which literally means intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval. Excitement is the greatest gift you can give to other people. This is because there’s nothing more valuable than inspiration. When you excite someone, you help them see their future in a positive and enticing light. You give them something to look forward to. This fills them with the magic formula of anticipation, confidence, and boldness. Understand: anything is possible under the spirit of excitement. The key is learning how to initiate excitement in yourself and in other people. Once you learn how to initiate excitement, you can harness its full power by directing it towards ideas and objects of your choosing. Excitement will not only help you influence motivation in others, it will help you control your own internal influences.
Excite Yourself First
Excitement cures discouragement and spurs action. In life, our greatest weakness is not lack of knowledge, time, money, connections, or resources. Our greatest weakness is discouragement. We fail, not because we are impatient and unintelligent, but because we lose heart, doubt ourselves, and become overly cautious. The only way to overcome this weakness is by taking heavy doses of enthusiasm. Achieving your goal and fulfilling your purpose in life is impossible without enthusiasm. In the face of adversity, being more careful is not what you need, what you need is to amplify your excitement. This will act to double your resolve and intensify your confidence, decisiveness, and boldness. Excitement is energy. Excitement turns discouragement into determination. In moments of trouble, use enthusiasm to overcome inertia. Mistakes you make by being too bold can be corrected by taking more bold action still. The momentum of your excitement will move you forward.
Fear is no match for enthusiasm. The next time you find yourself fearing an outcome, change your focus to something you’re excited about. Instead of worrying about making money to pay your bills, get excited about a new project. Instead of worrying about catching a cold, get excited about going to the gym. If you can’t get your focus off of the thing you fear, flip your perspective. Stop running from your problem mentally and start calling out to it. Get excited about facing it. If you hate flying because you’re terrified the plane is going to crash, get excited about surviving the plane crash. This may sound a little far out, but consider the only alternatives: worry and evasion. At least now you’re focused on taking productive action. In more practical terms, if you’re worried about failing a test, get excited about showing off your knowledge. Turn what you don’t want to happen into what you can’t wait to happen. Use enthusiasm to quickly increase your happiness, improve self confidence, and adjust your internal influences.
Let other people’s excitement work for you. Whether you’re selling a product, a service, or yourself, excitement is the best emotion to tap into. A recent study out of the University of California, Berkley studied the role of excitement and other emotions in making money and financial trading. In the study, participants were subdivided into different laboratory markets where they freely traded risky assets over a computer network. The markets themselves were the same in every way. However, prior to each market simulation, participants watched short videos that were either 1) exciting and upbeat—car chase scenes; 2) emotionally neutral—segments from a historical documentary; 3) fearful—scenes from a horror movie; or 4) sad—scenes from a depressing drama. The study found that people were more likely to buy risky assets after watching exciting videos relative to the other three conditions. This resulted in larger asset pricing bubbles that were both economic and statistically significant. Interestingly, no other emotional state significantly affected the participants buying behavior one way or another. Only excitement was able to generate influence over people’s actions.
Enthusiasm is the best closer. Creating something of value is the first step. The next steps are marketing, selling, and making money. Without the latter steps, you can’t support the the first step. Consumption sustains creation. Your product or service is useless if you can’t get other people to use it, experience it, or enjoy it. If creating something of value, selling it, and making money are your goals, then you must learn how to get and keep people’s attention. And the best way to grab people’s attention is to get them excited. Excitement is a critical skill. The problem is that most people try to excite others by pumping them full of tactical information and appealing to their goodwill. Worst of all, these people try to excite others by talking instead of doing. Achieving your goal and fulfilling your purpose requires a better approach: 1) paint a strategic vision; 2) appeal to other people’s self-interests; and 3) set an example with your physiology.
Paint A Strategic Picture
Enthusiasm thrives on vision and simplicity. Complex ideas are not exciting. Complex ideas that are short, concrete, and strategic are always exciting. What is the overall goal for your product, service, or self? What does ultimate success look like? Try not to visualize your victory in tactical terms. Instead, paint a sweepingly strategic picture in your head. Now, take that picture and compress it into one sentence or less. Finally, make your sentence as tangible as possible by linking it to other well-known objects and ideas. Christopher Johnson, the author of Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little, calls this the “high-concept pitch”. Johnson writes that the high-concept pitch takes on various forms but most often involves evoking an existing company, product, service, lifestyle, object, or idea and then indicating how yours would be different. The best known example of this is the original pitch for the movie, Alien. Instead of describing the details of the characters, plot, and outcome of the movie, the writers simply told the studio members that the movie was “Jaws In Space.” In three words, these writers were able to influence motivation by tapping into everything the studio members knew about the movie Jaws and everything they knew about space, instantly creating an exciting vision. “Jaws In Space” is simple, concrete, and strategic.
Appeal To Self-Interest
To get someone excited, show him how your product will make his job easier. To get someone really excited, show him how your product will make his life easier. To put someone in a must-have frenzy, show him how your product is already an extension of himself. Understand: excitement is selfish. It’s much easier for someone to get excited for himself than it is for him to get excited for someone else. This is a good thing. Your emotions should benefit you first, not other people. Yet, most people believe that both their emotions and other people’s emotions should benefit themselves. The truth is, other people will always care about themselves more than they care about your object or idea. You can have the most amazing product on the planet, but it will sit on the shelves if it doesn’t appeal to other people’s self-interest. The only way to get people excited about what you have to offer is to offer it in terms of how it will benefit them directly. This means thinking it terms of how your product, service, or self will not only benefit him professionally, but personally. The more you can make someone identify with what you have to offer, the more they will want to have it. Of course, all excitement is perishable. If what you’re selling lacks substance, enthusiasm for it will fade.
Set A Physiological Example
Every few months in Graduate school, I would have to present my research at some departmental seminar or conference. These seminars usually involved large podiums, endless PowerPoint slides, and 30-50 people who couldn’t care less about the presentations. For the presenters, the goal of the seminar was to get other people excited about science. In other words, the presenters were supposed to sell their research. When I first started giving these seminars, I did what everyone else did – I hid behind the podium, overly used my laser pointer, and talked in my best Ben Stein voice. One day, a professor came up to me after my presentation and said, “If you’re not excited by your research, why should anyone else be?” From that day on, I completely changed the way I presented. I started walking in front of the screen, varying the pace of my speech, using my hands, telling stories, and encouraging people to laugh and ask questions. I acted like my research was the most exciting thing I had ever seen. As a result, other people engaged.
It’s better to be annoyingly enthusiastic than mind-numbingly boring. Your physiology affects the psychology of others. By speaking and moving in an excited manner, you engage other people’s mirror-neuron systems. A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when someone acts and when they observe someone else acting. This means you can force people to mirror your behavior mentally just by behaving in a pronounced way. Motion creates emotion. The next time you want to get someone excited, get excited yourself. Then, appeal to that person’s self-interest and paint him a strategic picture. Practice these techniques and you will be able to arouse other people and yourself at will.