Do you remember when you first took the role you are in? You walked in the first day excited to make a big impact, eager to learn, and ready to embrace challenges. You were filled with enthusiasm that trumped the struggles and the inherent discouragement that comes with being a leader. The inner enthusiasm breathes intensity and energy into a leader. When a leader is enthusiastic, challenges and problems seem smaller than they are. When a leader is filled with apathy, challenges and problems seem larger than they are.
But enthusiasm can wane. Over time a role can feel stale, opportunities can feel less significant, and discouragement can cause a leader to long for a new role. The cost of waning enthusiasm is not small. Many leaders waste way too much time and mental energy dreaming about other roles, imagining scenarios, perusing search sites, and even researching life in other cities. When enthusiasm wanes, a leader’s best energy is divided.
Intuitively we know that if we just bounce from role to role, we won’t really make a long-standing impact. The apostle Paul challenged believers to keep their zeal and enthusiasm (Romans 12:11). Thus, wise leaders continually stir up passion for their current roles. Here are three practical ways to do so:
1. Start over.
At least once a year I quit my role. I don’t tell anyone I am quitting—not my wife, my team, or my boss. And I am not really quitting; I am actually “quitting” and starting over without anyone knowing. I take a fresh look at the organization and the opportunities. I ask the Lord to give me fresh eyes and the same passion I had the first day. When you “pretend-start over,” you will likely see the opportunities that first attracted you to the role are still there.
2. Develop someone else.
When you train someone else, you and the person will greatly benefit. You will gain fresh perspective and new energy as the person is filled with enthusiasm. And the person will be developed to make a bigger contribution and impact.
3. Focus on your biggest opportunity (not biggest problem).
Leadership that only focuses on putting out fires is exhausting. And there are always fires to put out, and some must be put out. But one way to recapture enthusiasm is to focus more and more energy and time on great opportunities and not merely nursing great problems.