All good salespeople are driven by enthusiasm

Unless you project enthusiasm, you might as well give up and take a nap.

Harvey Mackay column sig

I am often asked to name the single most important quality of a great salesperson. I usually say it's three things:

Hungry fighter.

Hungry fighter.

Hungry fighter.

Bottom line: All great salespeople must have enthusiasm. It's the one critical trait that you cannot teach. You can learn sales skills, product knowledge, how to plan, networking and pretty much everything else.


Enthusiasm is about passion, gusto, excitement and infectious energy to light up any sales call. But it's hardly limited to sales. Even though I like to remind people that all of life is sales – as in, you are always selling something, whether it's a product, a project, an idea or yourself – unless you project enthusiasm, you might as well give up and take a nap.

Enthusiasm is crucial in every profession. Major League Baseball star Pete Rose once was asked which goes first on a baseball player – his eyes, legs or arm. He said: "None of these things. It's when his enthusiasm goes that he's through as a player."

Here are a few examples of enthusiasm worth noting.

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said: "If you aren't fired with enthusiasm (to play for the Green Bay Packers), you will be fired with enthusiasm."

Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inn, said, "If you don't have enthusiasm, you don't have anything."

Motivational author Tom Peters said, "Nothing good or great can be done in the absence of enthusiasm."

Walter Chrysler, the founder of the automotive company that bears his name, said, "The real secret of success is enthusiasm."

Mark Twain was once asked the secret to his success. He said, "I was born excited."


Enthusiasm is a commodity more important than all other commodities. It will find solutions where there appear to be none, and it will achieve success when success was thought impossible.

Enthusiastic people never give up. They understand that the hardest sale they'll ever make is to themselves. But once they're convinced they can do it, they get the job done.

Self-confidence is extremely important in almost every aspect of our lives, yet many people don't believe in themselves as they should, and they find it difficult to become successful. Confidence enables you to perform to the best of your abilities, without the fear of failure holding you back. It starts with believing in yourself, even when no one else does.

That attitude is absolutely essential. Stay upbeat no matter what happens. A can-do attitude is the mind's paintbrush. Enthusiasm can color any situation.

What can you do to boost your enthusiasm? It all depends on how much you want to succeed. Take control of your own destiny. Success comes from knowing what you want, not wanting what you know.

It helps to have a little bulldog in you to achieve your dreams. The pioneering pilot Amelia Earhart said, "The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity."

Find something that makes you happy. If you love what you do, you will work harder. Having a purpose is the best motivation, better than money or fame. To me, happiness is the key to success. Only you can draw the map of the route to your happiness.

Here's the best part: You can take any detour on your map where your enthusiasm leads you. Therein lies the beauty of living an enthusiastic life, that you can see possibilities beyond your original plan. There are many paths to achieve your ultimate happiness and success. Don't let your fear of following them get in the way.


Consider the story of a 94-year-old woman in Arizona. Her friends always described her as charming, delightful and always positive. When asked her secret of living, she responded: "It's my enthusiasm for life. Because I think positive, I am positive."

Pausing for a moment, she continued: "Even at 94, I have four boyfriends. I begin each day with Will Power. Then I go for a walk with Arthur Ritis. I usually return home with Charlie Horse, and spend the evening with Ben Gay. Need I say any more?"

If she can have that kind of enthusiasm at 94, there's no excuse for you not to have it at 24, 44 or 74. The choice is yours: Are you living with enthusiasm?

Mackay's Moral: The world's work is done every day by people who could have stayed in bed ... but didn't.

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached at , by emailing or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

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