“I takes courage to be considered at times as a little too zealous.” – F.D. Van Amburgh, The Mental Spark Plug, 1923
Years ago, my favorite NBA player was Charles Barkley. I never missed a Phoenix Suns game when he played for them. On court and off court, the man never failed to entertain me. . Sometimes he’d leave me shaking my head, sometimes he’d leave me nodding my head…. sometimes Sir Charles would leave me holding my head. But make no mistake about it, Charles Barkley always left an impression.
Even on a golf course, Charles Barkley cannot be ignored (it’s not pretty, but you can’t take your eyes off of his swing).
He has that something that I have always been drawn to – ZEAL. Zealous people are people who live out loud. They know what they want in and from life and they know what they’re passionate about. They wear this passion on their sleeve and often wear a perplexed expression on their face – one that questions the rest of the world, “Why aren’t you getting this?! Why aren’t you excited too?!?!”
The quote at the top of the post is by a favorite author of mine from the Twenties (No, I wasn’t around then, wise guy!), F.D. Van Amburgh. When I came across the quote recently – while redoing the motivational quotes pages here on Self Help Daily, I couldn’t help wondering – what do you think Amburgh would have thought of Charles Barkley, Jillian Michaels, Oprah, Dick Vitale, Alton Brown, Lolo Jones, Toby Keith…. some of the most zealous people of our day?
I’ve read enough books by F.D. Van Amburgh to believe with all of my heart that he would have been just as drawn to them as I am. I think he would have been completely smitten with the ladies.
The thing about zealous people is this: You will not always agree with them, but you’ll always know where they stand. Zealous people wave zealous flags and they most certainly aren’t white flags. When you just read the list of names, you probably reacted in one way or another to at least one of the names. That’s because people with zeal stir emotions and sometimes anger. I’m not condoning everything done or said in the name of zeal – far from it.
See, I think of zeal as a magic window into the heart of a person. Through their zeal, the rest of the world gets to see exactly what makes them tick. Zeal strips away facades, press spins, and photo-shopping. The beauty of it is that zealous people is that… up to a point… they simply don’t care. They have enough confidence and courage to ride the zeal train to the next station.
Whether or not I agree with everything they say or do, I give each one of them this: They have guts – guts to be who they are and not conform to the person anyone else thinks they should be. I also admire their passion. Especially those who have passion for others: Dick Vitale’s passion for young people touches me and I wish there were more like him. Jillian Michael’s passion for people’s health and fitness is equally admirable. I love that she cares so much that she is willing to yell, kick, and scream to get her point across. I also thoroughly admire and appreciate Toby Keith’s dedication to our men and women serving overseas. They’re willing to fight for our country and Toby’s willing to fight for them! What’s not to love about that?
A lot of people don’t take a “live out loud” approach to life and that kind of makes me sad. Their own fears and doubts hold them back. They think, “If only I were thinner…” or “If only I had more money…” or “If only I were older….” or other ridiculous thoughts. As our own zealous Charles Barkley once said, “If ifs were gifts, everyday would be Christmas!”
Make no mistake about it, being zealous doesn’t mean you have to love or demand the center of the stage. The people I’ve highlighted in this post are definitely center stage individuals. If life were a play, they’d have lead roles and get 95 percent of the lines. Zeal can come in somewhat quieter, more laid-back packages as well, you know. Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Billy Graham, Diane Sawyer – no lack of zeal in these individuals whatsoever.
They just go about their work on a somewhat quieter scale.
Zeal doesn’t always scream, but it does always command attention. On the other side of the coin, as Thomas Henry Huxley once said, “Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.” If you’re going to be zealous, make sure you know what you’re talking about and that it’s even worth saying or doing in the first place.
Take a gut check today. Do you believe in yourself and your dreams enough to fight for them? Are you willing to stand up and stand out to live your life on your own terms? Or are you afraid what others will say or think? If that’s the case, I hope you’ll come out of the shell you’ve built around yourself and step out into a whole new life.
Be bold! Be confident! Be strong! Be you!
Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. – David Ogilvy