igniting match with smoke, black background

What one characteristic describes the most successful leader you know? I wouldn’t be surprised if you answered, “Enthusiasm!” Great leaders are enthusiastic. The energy they bring to a meeting lights the room. Their never-say-die attitude is a life-jacket that keeps them—and their team—afloat in troubled waters.

Tommy LaSorda, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was interviewed by Larry King right after his team lost to Houston in the 1981 National League playoffs. King observed that in spite of the loss, the baseball great was enthusiastic. He asked LaSorda how he could be so exuberant. He answered, “The best day of my life is when I manage a winning game. And the second best day of my life is when I manage a losing game.” Now that is an enthusiastic approach—win or lose, life is great!

Remember, you lead people emotionally as well as intellectually. Emotion is a core component of effective leadership, and to a great degree, drives every project or production. Author and educator, Yvonne Ulmer, said, “Enthusiasm is the spark that lights the flame of positive action.”

If you want to lead successfully for the long haul, keep your enthusiasm lit. How? Let me suggest four ways.

Hang with positive people. Who are the people in your organization—or in your building—who always see the “partly sunny” rather than the “partly cloudy?” Come alongside them. Act like they do—in your mind first, and then in your actions. Copy the best of their best, and soon their best will be seen in your best.

Stay away from junky stuff. Your heart and mind are filters that collect the atmospheric dust of their surroundings. Only you know the off-limits spaces, media, or activities that bring you down—along with everyone around you. Live on the high side. Read or listen to positive and empowering messages. Use your down time as learning time.

Stay healthy. How many despondent athletes do you know? Probably very few. Athletes are adrenaline driven. They pump iron, pound the pavement, drive for the hoop, and jump for the all-time record–and the activity drives their enthusiasm for more. They are also selective about the foods they eat or don’t eat. Borrow their habits, and build your enthusiasm.

Keep your eye on the finish line. There is a “go” in every goal. Take your eye off of it, and you will spend more time stranded on the shoulder than speeding down the road. You will get to where you want to go—by God’s grace, your chosen attitude, and your pursuit of specific objectives. Charles Kingsley said, “All we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”


– Stan Toler