Fired With Enthusiasm

“Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.” = “Seize the day, put no trust in tomorrow.” –– Horace

Along with “Carpe diem,” Horace said, “He has the deed half done who has made a beginning.” Indira Gandhi also thought that getting on with getting on is the way to go, “Have a bias toward action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy joined the get your get up and go up and going chorus when he said, “There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long–range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” And perchance you think that people will simply assume that you have good intentions without your actually needing to go for it, the famous Anon pointed out, “Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold –– but so does a hard–boiled egg.”

There you have it, the argument for not sitting around twiddling your thumbs; but, as with most ideas, there is an alternative point of view. One might suppose that it’s now time to dig in, go for the gusto, strike while the iron is hot, expatiate, explicate, and generally expound on that alternative point of view; but one would be wrong. Remember Johann von Goethe’s warning, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

If that isn’t sufficient to slow the pace, also remember Walter Kerr’s observation, “Half the world is composed of idiots, the other half of people clever enough to take indecent advantage of them.” It would be well to first determine whether one is clever, an idiot, or merely a clever idiot before jumping to an ill considered conclusion. If all of that still doesn’t put the brakes on for you, persuade you to look before you leap, and convince you not to jump off the cliff until you learn how to fly, listen to Laurence J. Peter, “Fortune knocks but once, but misfortune has much more patience.” And speaking of misfortune, even Horace advised you to put no trust in tomorrow.

OK, you’ve got them, the alternative points of view. Do you act or not act, take a chance or play it safe? Sure, you need to Carpe diem; but it’s worth pointing out that even Horace didn’t say that it can’t wait till after lunch.

Having said that and with a balanced perspective firmly in mind, know that, “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.” –– Vince Lombardi

This isn’t always true but is true enough often enough. It may not be true if you are the boss’ kid, the only one who knows how to drive the truck, or if it’s your ball and you will take it and go home if they don’t let you pitch. Other than that, think of it as Lombardi’s immutable law of continuing employment. Oliver Wendell Holmes even knew the source of the fire, “Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.”

You probably won’t want to take the getting fired up thing as far as John Wesley did. He is the one who said, “I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” Even so, John W. Foster’s point is definitely worth keeping in mind, “One of the strongest characteristics of genius is the power of lighting its own fire.” Turning into a torch like Wesley is going a tad too far; but keeping a match handy to light your own fire might be pretty cool, so to speak. Being a genius certainly can’t hurt your chances of avoiding the employment ax, if it falls.

If you don’t happen to have a promising future as a genius, Napoleon Hill offers some useful advice, “The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat.” You need to have a strong desire to succeed, a lot of Lombardi’s enthusiasm. As Publius Terentius Afer pointed out, “There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.”

Winston Churchill hit the same nail on the head, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” And Robert Schuller drove it home when he said, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” Schuller could have easily added, “And do it enthusiastically.” Should you be thinking that the fire you need exceeds your capacity, the popular Anon. has a parting thought just for you, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way; if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”