HAPPY is the man whose work is his greatest hobby! It is then that work becomes play and business or vocation is one great game. Then he regrets to see the day close, and the morning dawns with a new delight. New plans to make! New paths to follow! New adventures! And old familiar things! The pleasant routine, friends and associates, smell of paints and oils, hum of wheels, buzz of voices, movement, action, persuasive speech, creative effort, a career in full swing! In such a situation enthusiasm is natural. The body-cells are alive, they are intoxicated, energy bubbles over.
And who can resist the appeal of such a personality! Enthusiasm is contagious, it lights up the interest, it inflames the imagination, it fires desire. It casts its spell upon all. Then they see with your eyes, they believe as you believe, and they want to do what you want them to do.
Enthusiasm does not mean ignorance and it does not mean bluff or deceit. The spell of enthusiasm can be woven successfully only by those who know what they are talking about, and believe in it. One who genuinely loves his work comes to know it thoroughly. He reads,
studies, talks, dreams, about it. He knows the ins and the outs, the forward and back of his subject. If he is a salesman, he knows the location of his goods, the quantity on hand, the quality or kind, the purpose or use, the constituent elements or parts, the make or construction, the design or style, the finish or effect, the history or sentimental value, the price and the terms.
When a customer comes he does not have “to hunt something up.” He does not “aim to please”; he shoots.
For comparative purposes let us look at the uninterested and uninteresting salesman. A customer wants a trunk. The clerk will “see if we can find what you want. Our stock is low. Here is one. It is an awfully handy wardrobe trunk. It is awful good. It is awfully well finished. It is awful cheap.”
The customer comes to the natural conclusion that it is an awful trunk. People like to be waited on by one who knows. They may have only an indefinite idea of what they want and they like to be told the various points, so that they may choose intelligently. Only one who has information can impart it. Only those who love their work acquire the necessary flare.
I shall never forget my early experiences as a salesman. I began in my teens as a house-to-house canvasser for stereoscopes. This instrument, unknown to the present generation, was one of the seven wonders of the world.
It was a domestic brother of the stereopticon which in turn was the forerunner of the moving-picture machine. It was like a huge pair of goggles, with magnifying lenses, mounted on a thin strip of wood which acted as a carrier for a slide in front of it. Into this slide you slipped a piece of cardboard on which were mounted two identical pictures. When looking through the lenses with a proper focus these two pictures blended into one giving depth or perspective, or what we call the third dimension. Thus to look at a picture of the Alps was like looking at real mountain scenery. The background had life, and color, and meaning.
Many people in those days kept cabinets for their pictures as we keep phonograph records today. One could open a box and bring forth a trip to Italy, or China, or California. One could see the great celebrities of the times, all dressed up ready to do something to celebrate them.
Armed with samples, I toured the rurals of New Hampshire, bent on a mission of enlightenment, the high priest of art and the advocate of foreign travel by proxy. Cook’s tours could not have presented a more enthusiastic representative or one more widely traveled—by proxy. Was it not I whose
“—soul today is far away Sailing the Vesuvian Bay. My winged boat a bird afloat
Swims round the purple peaks remote.”
Had not I with my own eyes looked upon Mont Blanc—
“Thou too, hoar Mount, thou that as I raise my head
Awhile bowed low in adoration, Upward from thy base slow traveling With dim eyes suffused with tears,
Solemnly seems like a vapory cloud to rise before me.
Rise, O ever rise!”
And how it rose! While my trembling and eager fingers placed it in the slide before the astonished eyes of a new traveler into parts unknown. Could anyone resist such journeys, such peeps into forbidden cities, such intimate contact with the great of the world? What neighbor could boast of such wide itineraries! Here in your own home you are cosmopolite, adventurer, critic of art, connoisseur of valuable and historic collections!
No, they could not resist it! And their collections swelled to bigger and ever bigger proportions as they added Africa, Australia and America to the wonders of
Europe and Asia, under the persuasive enthusiasm of a world-traveler by proxy.
So I have come to stress the value of enthusiasm, begotten of truth. You may be sure that what you value someone else will value. What is intriguing to you will be intriguing to another.
The world is richer, too, for your enthusiasms. Your employer’s interest is aroused. You become a personality. You are somebody! To know your subject, even if it be but the points of a domestic rug, or a new nipple for the baby’s bottle, or how pins are manufactured, is to become a raconteur—and all the world loves a story.
It is said that “all the world loves a lover.” I shall not say less for him who loves his work, his task, his opportunity. The world needs faith. It needs the inspiration of those who believe in what they are doing and think that life is worthwhile.
If you lack enthusiasm you can begin today a definite cultivation of the qualities which inspire it. You can affirm your interest, your joy. You can daily increase your happiness by giving yourself the constructive suggestions which will create it. “I am happy. I am filled with the joy of my work. I have a fine sense of values and the spirit of an enthusiast.”