Does enthusiasm have the power of Influence? Is enthusiasm visible? What does it look like? Is it a warm smile? Is it your body leaning into the conversation? Is it words punctuated with the movement of hands? Is it audible? Can it be measured in decibels? Is it an animated voice with facial gestures? If you can see it and hear it, can you measure and weigh it? What if you only feel it but can’t put your finger on it, so to speak? Are you able to tell if it is pulling you in a positive or a negative direction?
Is enthusiasm or the lack thereof contagious? Is it possible for enthusiasm to spread from one person to another and then to another after that? Yes, indeed, enthusiasm can be contagious but you get to choose if and how you react to or display your enthusiasm. You get to choose how you weigh and measure the influence of enthusiasm, or the lack thereof, upon you.
Does Enthusiasm Make a Difference?
Was there ever a time when your enthusiasm made a difference? If you think about it, you may recall events where enthusiasm impacted your decision. Whether you are the interviewer or the interviewee, the CEO or the representative of the HR firm, the Chair of the Board or the candidate for hire, how would you respond to an overly enthusiastic individual? How does an unenthusiastic prospect impact how you feel about their presence next to you when you share their space?
Be you the decision-maker or the applicant, does your enthusiasm show? Is your enthusiasm reflected in the interview? So often, it is the factors that are invisible or unsubstantiated or ignored that carry the heaviest weight. Expectation is not measurable and yet it can heavily influence the outcome. This is also the case with bias that stems from one’s personal history of experiences.
No matter your status in a relationship or your position of employment, is it possible for you to practice your best version of your enthusiastic self? What would that look like? Does it mean that you require yourself to set off fireworks when you enter the room? Does it mean that you choose to turn cartwheels when a simple nod with a smile would suffice to convey your message? Does your enthusiasm tend to generate spontaneous applause? Or if enthusiasm is simply present, is that enough?
Whatever the level of enthusiasm you bring to the proverbial table, your energy produces an effect. It shows up in your body language, it shows up on your face and it shows up in your voice. Does your enthusiasm empower and enable those who work for you or with you, or does it operate as counter-intuitive? You get to choose how you display your enthusiasm.
If you Could Measure Enthusiasm
If you could measure enthusiasm, what would a high-ranking number tell you? Let’s pretend your enthusiasm rank is 3+ on a scale of 1 to 5. What would that say about you? Would that say you are enthusiastic some of the time and not others? Could it say that you are generally mildly enthusiastic but not one who lets your modicum of enthusiasm lead by outstanding example?
Isn’t it interesting that measurement tools of various descriptions are used to identify characteristics of potential candidates for job placements? And, while the tools may offer insight into the potential value of the candidate, the numbers the instruments generate may be subject to wide margins of interpretation. Hmmm. A number is just a number without looking deeper, isn’t it? Tools may have their place but they may not demonstrate the art of working in a team environment or the contribution that self-discipline makes to add value to the progress of the project.
Can Enthusiasm Become Toxic?
I am reminded of a work environment in which I once found myself where the new kid on the block showed up with a one-man-band kind of attitude. Nothing was too big or too small for the newbie to take on. After all, doesn’t everyone want to leap tall buildings in a single bound and swim the English Channel before lunch in their first few months on the job? The newbie’s enthusiasm was “over the moon” and it was putting everybody else on staff into an awkward position. Management had created a conundrum: match Mr. Zealous or get out of the way. Co-workers had two choices: become zealots themselves or step aside and let Mr. Zealous go after the glory prize. In the end, this workplace became an uncomfortable place to be for all concerned. It took time and mindful leadership to repair the “air” after Mr. Zealous was let go.
Enthusiasm, Behaviour and Outcomes
In Lessons I Learned from the Tortoise, a book I wrote based on Aesop’s fable about the Tortoise and the Hare, I write about human characteristics such as tenacity and behavioural approaches to tasks such as procrastination. Surely procrastination is a possible sign of a lack of enthusiasm and tenacity is a sign of the kind of drive that sees projects through to completion. Tenacity added to enthusiasm could be the catalyst needed to generate powerful assets toward achieving successful outcomes. Does enthusiasm have influence? That answer would be a resounding yes. Does enthusiasm influence outcome? Again, yes.
Can enthusiasm be a catalyst for success?
A project painted with enthusiasm may or may not turn out better than one painted with positive intention or one painted with attention to detail. Enthusiasm may merely but genuinely have raised the spirits of those participating in the completion of the work.
Let’s not mistake perseverance for enthusiasm. Qualities such as perseverance, vigilance, diligence and persistence may have nothing to do with enthusiasm. They may only be characteristics that people adopt to get the job done. None of these characteristics require enthusiasm.
But is enthusiasm required?
Think of enthusiasm to be more like fire starter. Enthusiasm helps to ignite the flame. Enthusiasm can be
the oxygen that keeps an idea alive. It can fuel an entire project from beginning to end.
Would you be open to measuring your enthusiasm? If so, how?
Would you prefer the presence of enthusiasm to be more constant or event-specific? Will you add enthusiasm to the list of requirements you are after when, for example, you are hiring staff or looking for joint venture partners? When it comes to your next project and the people who will participate in it, will you reflect on your own enthusiasm and its power of influence over the outcomes?
Donna P. Dahl, M.Ed., is a thought leader, award-winning executive empowerment coach, author and speaker who utilizes a next-generation individualized implementation process founded in neuroscience with leaders, decision-makers, teams, CEOs and entrepreneurs around the world who are ready to move from stuck to start in as little as 90 minutes in this new era where so many are unsure of how to gain traction in their role.