This post is part of a series titled, “A-B-Cs – What It’s Really Like”. Each week a new letter and its word will be revealed. Each word’s explanation will illustrate significant personal meaning, application and ultimately demonstrate, What It’s Really Like…
We have all heard that “a little bit goes a long way” and none more can be said about the action of enthusiasm. A small dose of enthusiasm can play a pivotal role in shaping the state of future outcomes, both positively and negatively. Enthusiasm may often be disguised as motivation. The difference between the two is that you may be motivated to accomplish a task, but not have enthusiasm for processing the task. One example of this may be your job. Most everyone is motivated by a paycheck; however they may not necessarily be enthusiastic about their job or career.
A little bit of that has crept in on me over the past few years of my feelings toward my career. In education, teachers need to have an infinite amount of enthusiasm. Without this attribute, the chances are very high that the students in the class will not maximize their potential. As a student I thrived in classrooms where the teacher/professor was exuberantly enthusiastic. Today’s students are no different, in fact, enthusiasm is needed now more than ever as a way to grab and keep their attention. A teacher must always be ON and it is exhausting. That’s why after five years I can’t figure out whether I am burnt out or less enthusiastic about the profession. I still am motivated to help educate young people (and cash that bi-monthly paycheck), but enthusiasm sometimes gets clouded or washed away amidst all of the non-teaching headaches that continue to plague today’s educators. I am not going to disclose those here. If you know a teacher, ask them about it. I am sure they would love to fill you in.
Students are like bloodhounds and can sense when something is a little bit off. You tend to learn a lot about one another when you spend 180 days together for an hour or more – for better or worse. One day this past year, I was having one of the worst professional and personal days that I can recall. I actually stopped class a few minutes early to recollect myself before my next class came in. One of my students sitting nearby began a conversation with me as I was staring at an inanimate object on my desk.
“Mr. Brody, can I ask you a question?” he asked.
“Sure, Joseph”, I replied.
“Do you like your job?”
I was rattled and laughed. “Yes I do. Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem that you like teaching that much.”
There it was. I had one bad class. One moment where I could not hide my emotions and let them sit on my sleeve. The only moment that I was “off” and when my guard was down, I was found out. My lack of enthusiasm during one class hour was discovered. This situation was alarming and frustrating.
Think of other areas of our lives where enthusiasm applies. My grandmother once told me, “Be as enthusiastic to stay married as you were to get married.” This was sage advice from someone who was married for over 60 years. I remember her quote regularly not as a reminder to stay married to my wife in tough situations, but to be enthusiastic about the little things that go a long way. Much like a teacher’s students those that you live with and are closest to can sense when you are not enthusiastic and buying in. Household chores, changing a dirty diaper, hanging out with your spouse’s annoying friends/co-workers (I promise I am not referring to my wife and I!) – It all adds up. Being caught without enthusiasm is called “faking it”. Some are better at it than others. Some just don’t give a damn. Most eventually get found out by their peers by an innate human 6th sense. How much of that are you subliminally broadcasting to friends and loved ones either through tone and/or body language?
Enthusiasm is the purest form of boosting morale. Enthusiasm is an expression and it sets a tone. What it is not is a way of falsely constructing motivation in order to accomplish an undesired duty. Enthusiasm is a way to build toward positive outcomes and also store for survival to persevere and endure through tough obstacles. Collectively, it is a powerful tool that can take you a long way as long as your mind is right. Let’s do this!
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