On Being Possessed
Enthusiasm comes from entheos “divinely inspired, possessed by a god.”
College football games are populated by the possessed. Fans paint their faces, wear bizarre costumes, and act like lunatics.
Enthusiasm seems frivolous. In the 1650’s “enthusiasm” acquired a derogatory sense, “excessive religious emotion.”
Smart people don’t shout like idiots. They speak in elongated tones like British nannies.
Reserve seems dignified. We don’t want erratic leaders, who paint their faces and wear football helmets. Power and dignity belong together.
You don’t have to be cuckoo to be possessed.
Give yourself fully to whatever you do.
Low-enthusiasm doesn’t serve you, your team, and your organization well. Don’t jump around like a knucklehead. But half-hearted commitments are fully dissatisfying.
Low-enthusiasm hides behind the faults of others.
Lousy leadership is a common excuse for low-enthusiasm. My boss doesn’t make decisions, for example.
For some reason, a lousy manager, leader, or Board is an excuse for low-enthusiasm. I have a news flash.
You’ll never be enthusiastic if enthusiasm depends on others.
All managers, leaders, and Boards are lousy in some areas. They’re over-involved and give too much direction. They’re under-involved and seem detached.
- Don’t show up with a painted face. Enthusiasm at work isn’t being an idiot.
- Agree that high-enthusiasm takes you further than half-heartedness.
- Notice that low-enthusiasm is cousin to unhappiness.
- Adapt to authority. If the Board changes direction, go all-in or get all out. (Don’t make snap decisions.) When your manager changes direction, explain the impact and start rowing.
- Aim high. Lofty goals require enthusiasm.
Bonus: Be enthusiastic because it’s who YOU aspire to be, even if you’re surrounded by downers.
Decide if low-enthusiasm takes you where you want to go. If it does, maybe you shouldn’t go there.
What blocks enthusiasm in leaders?
How might leaders develop and practice enthusiasm?
Dan: This stood out, “Bonus: Be enthusiastic because it’s who YOU aspire to be, even if you’re surrounded by downers.” Sure seems to be a lot of “downers” all over these days. Tough some times in the onslaught of negativity. But then again just makes me want to show them how true passion, enthusiasm and a positive attitude works in the face of their negative barrage.
Thanks Roger. Yes! We all have to decide if the way we choose to show up actually takes us where we want to go.
And you are right. Being a person who sets the mood rather than one who accepts the mood takes self-awareness, direction, courage, and resolve. Best wishes.
Dan; You are so correct, seem a lot to do with what Generation one is in (Boomers), Millennials or Z’s etc. You’ve touched on some of those dynamics over the last year, might be time to flush out further as generationally we are wired different and respond differently across.
I’ll keep that in mind. Sounds like an interesting and useful topic.
Nice inspiration … but a thought for contmplation:
Being possessed and taking possession (of your enthusiasm, say) are two quite different things. The issue is which is conforming … you, or reality?
Much like the 4 Agreements:
Reserve: Express yourself impeccably
Possession: Pursue Excellence w/ perseverance
(Always do your best).
Excuses/Blame : Take nothing personally.
(It’s not just about you, and you contributed to the issue at least 15% in any case).
Choices: ASSUME NOTHING
(the only resolution to a dilemma/paradox is in questioning every assumption, and discerning new distinctions that are relevant and material)
Interesting and timely post for me. I’ve been struggling with the “all in or all out” scenario and the issue of the boss making decisions (or not). I have had people on my teams get very frustrated with significant changes in direction that appear to take us away from our goals or a lack of clarity on the expected outcome of a project. I try to keep motivation high by keeping our plan map and determining our own outcome that is important to the team and facilitates or compliments the executive interest. I keep telling them we can still get to New York from Florida, regardless if we skim the coast line or need to take a few detours inland.
I heard this saying a long time ago, “Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the trigger.”