catching fire

Many people are tired simply because they are not interested in anything. Nothing ever moves them deeply. To some people it makes no difference what’s going on or how things go. Their personal concerns are superior even to all the crises of human history.

Nothing makes any real difference to them except their own little worries, their desires, and their hates. They wear themselves out stewing around about a lot of inconsequential things that amount to nothing. So they become tired. They even become sick. The surest way not to become tired is to lose yourself in something in which you have a profound conviction.

A famous statesman who made seven speeches in one day was still boundless in energy.

"Why are you not tired after making seven speeches?" I asked.

"Because," he said, "I believe absolutely in everything I said in those speeches. I am enthusiastic about my convictions."

That's the secret. He was on fire for something. He was pouring himself out, and you never lose energy and vitality in so doing. You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind. Your mind gets bored and therefore tired doing nothing. You don't have to be tired. Get interested in something. Get absolutely enthralled in something. Throw yourself into it with abandon. Get out of yourself. Be somebody.

Do something. Don't sit around moaning about things, reading the papers, and saying, "Why don't they do something?" The man who is out doing something isn't tired. If you're not getting into good causes, no wonder you're tired. You're disintegrating. You're deteriorating. You're dying on the vine. The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have. You won't have time to think about yourself and get bogged down in your emotional difficulties.

Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

enthusiam makes the difference

As part of an experiment, midcareer executives competed against one another by pitching business plans to other execs at the same level. After the presentations, the executives rated all the plans. MIT researchers discovered they could predict which plans would be well received, just by observing the presenter’s tone of voice. The greater the presenter’s excitement and confidence, the more likely the plan would be met with approval. Think about that: The enthusiasm and charisma of the presenter was as critical to the plan’s success as the facts he or she was presenting.

The MIT researchers also found these elements played a critical role in a fruitful outcome:

* a consistent tone and motion

* confidence and practice

* mirroring the interviewer's gestures

* acting active and helpful

Stephen Goforth

a simple question

Upon meeting someone, instead of asking, "What do you do?" I prefer asking, "What do you love to do?" That always stops people. Their eyes soften, and they smile. "What do I love to do?" Sadly, it usually it has nothing to do with their work.

The problem is that our society does not teach us to value what we really love. It teaches us to value what we are good at. How many people do you know who are really good at their jobs but hate what they do for a living? Think for a moment. It's staggering.

In the last few years, I've become acutely aware of just where the culprit might lie.

My daughter and I have just finished the college slog, and she is off to her freshman year in a matter of weeks. The journey wasn't easy. Over and over again at colleges around the country I heard admissions people with starched shirts and neat scarves shooting what felt to me like verbal bullets to a room full of prospective students, such as "Who here is good at math? Raise your hand."

Half the room would groan. Half would raise their hands.

"Okay — for those of you with raised hands, you might want to declare Accounting as your major. Accounting majors are guaranteed jobs out of college."


Is that what college is for? Getting a job?

A job is a good thing, of course, but college is about something deeper. It should teach you how to think. It should help you learn what you can't stand. It is about stretching your mind in ways you never thought you could and coming out the other side ready to fly into the unknowns of life with some level of confidence and better yet, wonder.

Every single time I witnessed this What-are-you-good-at-raise-your-hand assault on our college-bound youth, I wanted to stand up, Oz-like, and say, "Ignore the person on the stage. It's not what you are good at. It's what you love. If you are lucky enough to have both, good for you!"

Laura Munson, Writing in The Week

Self-Renewal and Motivation

The self-renewing man is highly motivated and respects the sources of his own energy and motivation. He has the priceless quality of enthusiasm. He knows how important it is to believe in what he is doing.

He knows how important it is to pursue the things about which he has a deep conviction. Enthusiasm for the task to be accomplished lifts him out of the ruts of habit and customary procedure. Drive and conviction give him the courage to risk failure. (One of the reasons mature persons stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.) And not only does he respond to challenge, but he also sees the challenge where others fail to see it..

John Gardner

Great Conviction

The self-renewing person is highly motivated. The walls that hem us in as we grow older forms channels of least resistance. If we stay in the channels, all is easy. To get out requires some extra drive, enthusiasm or energy.

Everyone has noted the abundant resources of energy that seem available to those who enjoy what they are doing or find meaning in what they are doing. Self-renewing people know that if they have no great conviction about what they are doing they had better find something that they can have great conviction about. All of us cannot spend all of our time pursuing or deepest convictions. But all of us, either in our careers or as part-time activities, should be doing something about which we care deeply.

John Gardner, Self-Renewal