Think back: When your parents met your enthusiasm with a shushing noise, how did you feel?
Or maybe there was a time when a manager responded to your new ideas with skepticism and frustration. How did you feel?
For me, the word is deflated. I've had those experiences. One minute I'm bursting with possibility, rising upward by my own lightness of spirit...and the next, I'm a useless damp rag on the ground, no longer sure of my purpose.
When we hear about situations like this, we often direct our advice at the person sharing their fragile ideas. We say, "Toughen up. Get thicker skin. The world is harsh. Harden yourself accordingly." There's validity in that: the person sharing the idea can develop tougher skin, yes, to make puncture and deflation less likely.
But I'm more interested in the other side of this lesson. From the perspective of the parent, the manager, the mentor, the senior colleague: How will you respond when you hear a new idea, an enthusiastic suggestion, a vulnerable first step?
You have the option to respond with generosity--or with exasperated impatience.
You have the option to respond with curiosity--or with your own pre-formed assumptions.
You have the option to respond with love--or with your own deeply ingrained fears.
Remember, as you go through your day today, how many people you are influencing with your behaviors. Remember how fragile enthusiasm is. Remember how it feels to burst with possibility. Remember how much your organization or your family needs that kind of energy to sustain itself through challenges. Remember that your role is more than just providing "pragmatic" real-world experience--your role is also to coach, to encourage, to support.
Buoyancy, energy, enthusiasm: these are finite resources. You have the option to cultivate buoyancy in those you lead. You also have the power to deflate them. Choose carefully: you reap what you sow.