A Mind on Fire: Enthusiasm as the Fount of Creativity, as written by B.C. Forbes.

“Masterpieces spring from minds on fire.” — Forbes

I recently acquired a book written by the famous B.C. Forbes, called Keys to Success: Personal Efficiency, and it has reinvigorated me. It has grounded my ideals, my philosophy on enterprise and creativity — personal development and decency — willpower and drive. It’s a book with chapters that hover at four pages each, yet each sentence is meticulous, precise, and honest.

It’s a way of writing that I hardly see online, in books, or even hear spoken in today’s day-and-age.

Forbes enthralls with a precision of thought, ideals, and morals that are stubbornly simple, yet uncommonly powerful.

It’s a form of communication that I never knew I craved, and after having just finished his chapter on Enthusiasm, I had to share it with you.

Creativity, drive, progress, innovation — in art and in life — can have an unrelenting force behind it that will ensure your success.

That force is called enthusiasm.

Be it in writing, business, or life, the principles are the same for success.

This book was written in 1918, so his business references may be dated, but no less valid. Any emphasis has been added by me.


Dirty ore wrought in white-heat enthusiasm can be transformed into shining steel.
Enthusiasm is the electric current which keeps the engine of life going at top speed.
The dull, indifferent mind never evolved a brilliant product.
Half-heartedness never attained whole success.
Enthusiasm is the very propeller of progress.
All great achievements have sprung from the fount of enthusiasm.
Mediocrity is the fruit of indifference.
Masterpieces spring from minds on fire.
“No profit grows where is no pleasure ta’en,” wrote the all-wise Shakespeare.
Enthusiasm is the parent of enterprise.
Search and you will find that at the base and birth of every great business organization was an enthusiast, a man consumed with earnestness of purpose, with confidence in his powers, with faith in the worthwhileness of his endeavors.
Standard Oil, the greatest industrial organization ever evolved by the mind of man, is the product of enthusiasm, of John D. Rockefeller.
The only “Tobacco King” the world has ever known, James B. Duke, said to himself when an impecunious, unknown youth: “What Rockefeller has done in oil, I will do in tobacco.” And enthusiasm was the motive power that propelled him on towards success.
Henry ford was and is the quintessence of enthusiasm — as all the world knows. In the days of his difficulties and disappointments and discouragements, when he was wrestling with this balky motor engine — and wrestling likewise with poverty — only his inexhaustible enthusiasm saved him from defeat.
Such was the irresistible enthusiasm of Edward H. Harriman that he once declared: “All the opportunity I want is to be one of fifteen men round a directors’ table. I can do the rest.” He told a government prosecutor during a famous investigation: “I would buy up every railroad in the country if you would let me.” In twelve years he rose from obscurity to the most powerful railroad throne in the world — and , incidentally, made almost a million dollars a month during the last ten years of his life.
John Hays Hammond, the great mining engineer, told me: “I would sooner cross a desert or climb a mountain to see a new mine than cross the street to see a new play or a new opera any day or night.”
It was Roosevelt, you will recall, who, when asked while he was in the White House how he contrived to get through so much work, replied: “I like my job.”
What has brought “Billy” Sunday his inordinate fame as a preacher?
What carried Peary to the North Pole?
What sustains Edison during his herculean day-and-night labors?
Are they not all radiant examples of enthusiasm?
The Greeks described enthusiasm as a God within us.
Does not history show that, given enthusiasm, tasks apparently superhuman can be accomplished?
Enthusiasm is as a dynamo generating power withing us.
The enthusiast pushes ahead, needing no “pull.” The sluggard lags behind.
Just as surely as indifference and ignorance spell Failure, enthusiasm and enlightenment spell Success.
Why do such progressive and aggressive concerns as the National Cash Register Co., the Ingersoll Watch Co., the Simmons Hardware Co., at great cost hold salesmen’s conventions? chiefly to arouse enthusiasm, to inspire redoubled effort, to kindle fresh ambition.
Employers to-day will not engage for any important post men lacking in enthusiasm.
To be able to muster up enthusiasm you must believe in what you are doing, believe in its legitimacy, believe in its efficacy, believe in its benefit to society.
George W. Perkins at first turned down J.P. Morgan’s offer of a partnership because, as he told me, “I believe in the worthwhileness of life insurance and was more enthusiastic about it than I was bout mere moneymaking.” And when, a year later, he did finally enter Morgan’s firm it was only on the condition that he be allowed to continue his insurance activities.
A little-known Sculptor once said to me: “I would rather create something beautiful than receive a million dollars.” He scarcely knew where his next month’s rent was coming from — but one of his works has since received the highest honor within the gift of the French Government and will be given a place in the Louvre for all time.
Enthusiasm quickens, illumines, enfires.
It can salt and season even the unpalatable work.
The man who loses his enthusiasm gives up the race.
The Elixir of Life is three parts enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm stirs the pulse, brightens the eye and quickens the step.
Indifference is twin brother of laziness.
And the Door of Success is too high up, too hard for the lazy to reach and open.
Only the enthusiast can hope to forge the right key and find the right combination to its lock.