Realism vs. Enthusiasm in the Workplace

Enthusiasm in the workplace is in a constant territorial battle with realism. New ideas emerge from your group, and they will either get welcomed by the energy of enthusiasm or cut down by the criticism of an overly-cautious environment. Every new idea, good or bad, has a risk and a cost involved. The ultimate challenge in any organization is to separate the viable ideas from the unworthy ones.

Where enthusiasm wins, you may find a daily brainstorm of overambitious ideas, all of which get encouraged, approved and pursued. The aftermath of enthusiasm’s victory is an ever-growing list of large, ambitious projects, and a staff stretched so thin that even the best ideas don’t get the attention they deserve. If you speak up and suggest that the group “picks their battles,” your realistic thinking might look like the product of a poor, negative attitude.

Where realism wins, the best ideas get cut down alongside the bad ones. People become obsessed with managing expectations, limiting the scope of projects, and running a “tight ship.” There’s no room in over-realism for risk; the status quo prevails. Practicality dictates that the ship “stays the course.”

Perhaps the best thing to do is fuel the fire, achieve “double-agent” status, and make sure there’s a constant, healthy battle between the two. You may not want either side to win.

Have you encountered over-enthusiasm? Have you been to a place that is all too cautious and realistic?

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Peter is Vice President of Digital Marketing at an investment holdings company in Washington DC and Co-Founder at True North.


  1. Paul Birza on the 1st July

    Very interesting article. I only hope in this economy that companies don’t entrench even further into the “stays the course” mentality since economic innovation thrives on a healthy balance of enthusiasm and realism.

  2. ILikeIt on the 2nd July

    Peter North has an awesome name. Good Article too!

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