Last week I listened to a Minute with Maxwell (John) and the word he talked about for 60 seconds was ‘contagious.’ John talked about how important it is to be enthusiastic, and how that can rub off on others. I agree, and yet I was inspired to approach it a bit differently and think about contagious as an ‘action.’ Sure acting enthusiastic normally takes effort and is rarely an automatic behavior, however I see more to being contagious than just enthusiasm. Let me explain.

Though enthusiasm often provides a positive impact on those around you, if not genuine, people will eventually see through the smoke screen and not want to emulate you. I remember watching a motivational speaker a few years ago at a conference that I attended and his very enthusiastic delivery turned me off. I saw him as an act versus a genuine example of true motivation. That said, most enthusiasm, if genuine will have a positive impact on those around you.

Attitude is an important part of our character. We can have a positive or a negative attitude, and we can control it. Having either a positive or negative attitude, however, doesn’t necessarily define one’s enthusiasm. You may have seen people who are quiet, reserved and have a terrifically positive attitude. You may also know people who act positive with enthusiasm but they are not positive at all because their behavior is an act. Now, I am not judging anyone. We all have our so-called baggage and as a famous pastor once said during a sermon, ‘We are all bozos on the bus.’ Speaking only for myself, I concur!

Attitude is important and can also be contagious, either negatively or positively. I dare say each of us have been on both sides of that coin. It is rather easy to be negative. Being positive takes intent that can eventually become who we are, which is a topic that I touched on in a previous blog.

So, what beyond enthusiasm and attitude can be contagious in a positive way and add value to those around us? As I stated earlier, I believe contagious has an aspect of action in it. If you take initiative you can be contagious, particularly if your initiative adds value to others. Somethings as simple as helping someone move, opening a door, picking up something dropped or allowing someone else to go before you in line at Starbucks are all potentially contagious acts.

As a leader in business, education or volunteering, every time you act to help or add value to others, you show them something that has a positive effect. When you do that your action may be contagious. You have seen the advertisements by The Foundation for a Better Life, that illustrate people ‘passing it on’ or ‘paying it forward.’ There is no product being sold in those ads. The sponsoring people funded those ads to contribute to the betterment of humanity. They hope that the ads foster positively contagious behavior by showing how people help other people and when others see it, they do the same.

If you are or were in the military you may have or do have the opportunity to ‘lead the way’ in battle. If you get out front in the fray, your team will be more likely to follow your example. That is not only being courageous but also contagious.

I have always contended that a leader should never ‘not’ do what he or she asks his or her team to do if he or she is capable of also doing it. That is leading by example. That is contagious! My small firm helps companies grow and that means we work on building the sales funnel, which means we must get on the phone to prospect for new clients. Yesterday I made 127 contacts that I counted. I hope that commitment to do what I ask my team to do will spur them to greater performance. Greater performance always enhances peoples’ lives.

I found four definitions of contagious and two of them refer to disease states. The other two refer to conduct transmissible by direct or indirect contact. If you conduct yourself with a positive attitude (that doesn’t need to be wildly enthusiastic) and you act to add value to others, your conduct will be transmissible to those around you. You will be contagious!