Note: This is a VERY Jewishy post. Racists and anti-semites may want to skip over to their next favorite blog ;)
Last week marked Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the most solemn and important day of prayer for Jews the world over. Combined with two days of Rosh Hashana--the Jewish New Year the week before--the pair make up the "High Holidays," a period that draws Jews to synagogue like no other time of the year.
For the uninitiated, services for the High Holidays are long, and it can get hot and somewhat uncomfortable jammed in a room next to hundreds--or in the case of my synagogue, thousands--of others for hours on end. Because of this, unless one is ultra-religious, the majority of those attending seem to arrive late-ish and leave early-ish.
So imagine my surprise when looking around the hall at the termination of services this year and seeing it STILL about 80% full. Not one time, but on all four major High Holiday days (two Rosh Hashana, two Yom Kippur).
Wasn't like that last year.
Or the two, three years before.
The Cantor...or more specifically, the Cantor's demeanor. (P.S. For all you non-Jews or non-practicing Jews out there, the Cantor is the member of clergy who leads the congregation in sung prayer).
Over the past few years, my synagogue employed a cantor who had a fine and capable voice, and was competent in his role. Did the job, nothing special.
This year, the role was filled by an Israeli named Boaz Davidoff, perhaps one of the finest, friendliest and most upbeat personalities I ever met. Yes, he too had a fine and capable voice; the difference was in the way he used it.
Boaz didn't just sing, he beamed and radiated as he did so. He gesticulated, undulated, and moved his body to the beat of the music. He didn't just use his vocal chords, but also his hands and his head to deliver his songs. And when he sang, as he put it, he wasn't just playing to he crowd, but communicating one-on-one with the big man upstairs.
The end result of all this palpable enthusiasm? Well, the choir, buoyed by Boaz below, bellowed with new fervor. This, in turn, made the rabbi visibly happier, which translated into a refreshed energy, enabling him to better relate to his congregants. This double-whammy made the services fly by quicker, and judging by the increased amount of those who stayed until the very end, made the entire event more enjoyable to all.
So the (very spiritual) lesson this week?
The secret ingredient
to success in any field
is showing enthusiasm.
It's intangible, but makes a marked difference in those whose souls it touches.
It can be read, but the true benefit is in how it is felt.
I remember a lengthy stretch of coming into the office in a foul mood. After a few weeks, one of my staff came to me and told me that even though I was basically sequestered in my office, the bad vibes were being felt by--and adversely affecting--the team. That's the viral power of one's mood. And over the years, I've come to find that the positive uplifts even stronger than the negative bums people out.
So whether you're leading a congregation, selling shoes, driving a bus or giving a medical prognosis, doing so with an increased degree of enthusiasm will positively affect those you are doing it for.
Best of all, it's infectious and inspires a snowball effect in its feedback loop, paying off big-time to the one doing the enthusing...namely you.