Updated: Feb 9
Most of us subscribe to the principle that if you want to achieve more you need to do more, and as a consequence, we are seeing more and more of us experiencing exhaustion and burnout.
So what's the mistake we make?
The mistake that most of us will make in trying to achieve more, is applying more effort.
What many fail to realise is that the problem isn’t directly to do with volume of activity or the time we spend doing it, it’s the fact we are needing to use effort in the first place.
Effort, by the meaning of the word itself, requires ‘extra energy’ to do something. When you make the effort to do anything it is always going to be using more energy than would otherwise be necessary.
The word effort itself feels hard, a bit of grind and a slog.
Consider a powerful alternative
On the other hand, consider the word Enthusiasm – what does it arouse in you? Eagerness? Excitement? Interest? Enjoyment? Fun?
If you were enthusiastic about what you were doing, how much more would you achieve? And, what would it feel like?
I know when I’m enthusiastic about something, I’m excited, I can’t wait to get started and get stuck in. I often find I can go for hours without checking the time and I’ve still got an abundance of energy to keep going.
When feel enthusiastic, I feel unstoppable.
What’s fascinating is that I’ve never heard of anyone experiencing burnout from applying lots of enthusiasm, but unfortunately, I can’t say the same for effort.
What's the problem?
The challenge, however, is that we have a social and work culture that rewards effort, not enthusiasm.
People equate leadership with hard work and applied effort, but with all of the mental stress more and more of us are under, I think it’s time for that concept to shift.
As we head into the imagination age, we will need to leverage more and more of our creativity to stay innovative and connected to needs of our customers and our people.
Applying the work ethic of the industrial age is certainly not going to serve us. Creativity, for sure isn't inspired by effort.
Also it's likely the volume of work we need to do will only increase so it’s important to harness our energy effectively.
So - what are the advantages of Enthusiasm over Effort?
Well apart from the increased energy and vitality for life and the fact that nothing feels like work
You’ll have more time because the enthusiasm drives greater productivity and efficiency
You’ll feel happier, experience more enjoyment in your day and feel more aligned and in tune with yourself
You’ll do more of what you love, find more inspiration and ultimately feel unstoppable.
And, what are the downsides of Enthusiasm over Effort?
You’ll have more energy and therefore you’re likely to be in demand by others because you get so much done
You might have to get comfortable with some people wanting to keep you efforting because they find your enthusiasm too much
You may also be the subject of jealousy and envy of those that are seeking the freedom you’ve found
And ultimately the biggest downside is that you’ll no longer have an excuse for not getting things done.
Ok, so these are hardly downsides, but I genuinely can’t think of any real downside.
As you read this some of you might have some doubts and have some thoughts that will keep you playing small and playing the same effort game you’ve always played.
You’ll think it’s impossible to choose enthusiasm every day in your life and work and you’ll continue to believe that effort is necessary. You’ll also argue for your limitations and why you can’t always find enthusiasm for what you want. You’ll accept that feeling exhausted and lacking energy is just part of what life brings day to day.
So what next?
That’s ok, I’m not here to change your mind, that would be effort!
Instead I’m going to enthusiastically continue with all of the other inspiring things I’d like to do today!
Afterall, I’ve heard that words don’t teach, only your life experience does.
If I have caused you to think a little differently perhaps when you consider Energy and how to make yours sustainable, you’ll remember:
Enthusiasm Not Effort Resourcefully Grows You
Give it a go for a week, choose to do things that you are inspired by and find enthusiasm over effort daily and see what shifts for you.
Here’s a formula that night help too when you find yourself getting stuck:
Energy = Enthusiasm + Inspiration
And a final quote by a great human that sums it up:
“Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson