Friday, 19 March 2010

Killing enthusiasm

Today I came with loads of enthusiasm in a general area of work. My concrete strategy, once I presented it to some colleagues, clearly had some obvious flaws, which were duly pointed out to me.

The effect of this was double.
  • Firstly I started looking at the strategy in specific, and my rational 30% took the input and looked at how it could be improved.
  • However, my emotional 30% also lost quite a bit of enthusiasm for the are in general as a result of this input.
I am using myself as an example of a more general concept. When someone presents their concrete idea for a general area, we are quick to criticise it and shoot it down. Sometimes with very good reasons as well. But by doing this we often throw out the baby with the bath-water.

Now, how do we balance our "desire to help through criticism" with the general desire of not killing the enthusiasm of the person we are "helping"? Should we sometimes put our rational mind aside and enthusiastically support a strategy we perhaps are not convinced by, simply because we trust that the enthusiasm of our colleague will get the project their anyway?


  1. I think enthusiasm is a very powerful asset, but to quote somebody, Running very fast on a train headed in the wrong direction won`t get you where you want to get. :)

    My answer to this question is in terms of scale. Is the project / decision affecting a lot of people? can we allow this learning experience without too much impact in terms of results if it fails?

    But in the end, I guess that playing your own role best, developing a "maturity" in communication where the point isn`t to be score brownie points.

    Just like the Belbin profiles, some people are creative / innovative, others are very keen in spotting the details, whilst others have the ability to transmit energy and enthusiasm.

  2. Actually had a very similar reflection on this before. I often approach people with new ideas, strategies and concepts, so I get a lot of different responses.

    I agree you don't want to head enthusiastically in the wrong direction, however there's a very fundamental differences in responses:

    1) You look at the idea and try to find flaws, you point them out and hopefully they help the idea to grow. However, this often kills enthusiasm.

    2) You respond by building on the idea. So let's say there's a challenge that we might not have the resources in terms of HR to do something (or there is a question about it - quite common in AIESEC), then instead of saying "do you really think we have HR to do this?" you say "this is a great idea, how can we find the HR to do it?"


    "This idea is good, I think we could modify it to generate result X even better, like this or that.."

    Basically, in the first case you kill enthusiasm for it (while exposing an important flaw!) but in the other case you develop and grow the idea.

  3. I believe that finding a pitfalls or flaws is a way easier thing than to build upon/polish someone's idea because it takes more courage, creativity and analytical thinkging rather than when you are creating from teh scratch, therefore sometimes we tend to find flaws in order not to get out of the comfort zone ( unconsciously) and not to put as on theposition facing a challenge.
    Here, it takes really enterpreneurial thinking to re- sell the idea and re- think it over so that it still not looses its charm.
    If you know and you are passioante about something even if people say it doesn't work - still try it, because you never know if it works until you gove it a try...

  4. I just created this wonderfull conceptual idea into a project and sold it to a local authority who were really enthousiastic; then I came home, told my husband about it. He reacted very critical with questions like : you don't have time to realise this, you cannot give up your other job to realise the project, you take too much risk... Now I'm very disappointed and angry at him, because he doensn't support me in what is really important for me.
    I feel it's very unethical and killing not to go with the flow of a creative person so very short after the success and joyfull expression...