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13 June 2012 @ 10:07 am

Assuming you can only have one, which would you prefer:

I'm feeling: curiouscurious
lazyzlazyz on June 13th, 2012 02:17 pm (UTC)
I thought the choice was 'luck or brains'. I guess i have to go with brains over enthusiasm. What do you think?
(Deleted comment)
harimad on June 13th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
phoenixamber_phoenix on June 13th, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
ow ow ow, hate this question! enthusiastically!
Kcatkcatalyst on June 13th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
I'm assuming that you mean in me, as opposed to, say, qualities in an assistant or boss or so on.
Kcatkcatalyst on June 13th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
I should also say that I strongly believe that enthusiasm is a definitional component to brains, at least within certain ranges of both scales. PhD students in my world range from bright to brilliant. The bright ones are the ones that don't make it. I'm increasingly convinced that the missing ingredient is a kind of enthusiasm (passion, drive, curiosity, there's lots of ways it can be shaped) that it's just not possible to be brilliant without. I don't think the brilliant ones come to us with more brains our knowledge than the bright ones, but something about how they engage with the learning is what makes the difference.
harimad on June 13th, 2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
The same thing is true of people who have worked with me or for me. I identify the difference was stick-to-it-ness. At this point in my career, I'll take a medium-bright person who is enthusiastic and dilligent over a really bright person who isn't. The former just gets more done and is easier to supervise or mentor.

Then think of a group. My experience is that groups achieve more if they're composed mostly of medium-bright and dilligent, with a scattering of really bright acting as a spark.

Further there's almost no amount of brains that can make up for bad attitude. For rule-breaking, yes; often it takes an iconoclastic outlook to make true breakthroughs - either academic or in instituting a new procedure/analysis. (I would like to hear of RL examples of brains being worth a whopping big amount of bad attitude.)
Rowan: Wintermzrowan on June 13th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
Wow, I' m really surprised that so many people are choosing brains over enthusiasm! Enthusiasm without brains can still accomplish things; brains without enthusiasm involves a lot of sitting around and half-finished projects.
Kcatkcatalyst on June 13th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm having the same reaction!
tickles, the angry lemurclara_girl on June 13th, 2012 04:36 pm (UTC)
yeah; i'm with y'all. i'm thinking brains without enthusiasm is depression, which is no picnic.

a lot can be made up with sheer enthusiasm (and willingness, and openness).
RKOVparadoox on June 13th, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
Enthusiasm without brains is like 1000 monkeys hitting keys on typewriters. It can produce a great novel, but it is more likely to break a lot of typewriters.
blkblk on June 13th, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
I wonder if people are more likely to pick the one they feel that have more of currently?
metagnatmetagnat on June 13th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
I do not want to pick! FATE PICKS FOR ME.
E. K. Mangosteenmangosteen on June 13th, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
With brains and no enthusiasm, I can still get stuff done on my own.
With enthusiasm and no brains, I have to be put to work by someone else.
Rowan: Wintermzrowan on June 13th, 2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
Ha! I see this exactly the opposite way.
E. K. Mangosteenmangosteen on June 13th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
There's arguments for both, which is the fun part.
Also, we may be working on differing definitions of "enthusiasm" and "brains"
jojotbird: corset1jojotbird on June 13th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
I wonder if people are apt to pick whatever they think the rate-limiting factor in their lives is... Which do you think is impeding your ability to achieve happiness or your goals? lack of enthusiasm/motivation or lack of brains?

I'm pretty sure that the grass is always greener on the other side. Also, I have a tendency to redefine questions...
David Policardpolicar on June 13th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC)
My rate-limiting factor is definitely enthusiasm (and I agree with the commenters above that brains but no enthusiasm is basically depression). But I picked brains.
Beowabbit: Misc: brain side view on blackbeowabbit on June 13th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
Well, I have more brains than I have enthusiasm, and I’m pretty happy, so that can’t be too bad.

Hmmm... Then again, I’m not sure my definition of enthusiasm is correct. I was thinking sort of along the lines of gumption and stick-to-it-iveness, but if it means “taking joy in what you do”, then I’d have to vote for enthusiasm over brains.
Kcatkcatalyst on June 13th, 2012 04:18 pm (UTC)
Yes, I think of it more as joy/passion than gumption, although that's valuable too. But also, I read the question as having one but not the other, i.e. below some threshold that means being "not smart" or "not enthusiastic". I think which one you would want to have more of is an interesting and different question, but raises tricky issues about how to align the scales!
E. K. Mangosteenmangosteen on June 13th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
So, here's how I got to "brains":

Getting stuff done requires persistence above pretty much all else.
Enthusiasm doesn't map to persistence very well.
With brains and no enthusiasm, I can find something interesting for long enough that I'm willing to persist at it, although it might take a while.
With enthusiasm and no brains, I end up with an array of skills/hobbies/projects that get to around step 2 and then stop as soon as the learning curve starts to level off.

Worst case with brains and no enthusiasm, I end up with the same abandoned skills/hobbies/projects, but they're all at step 4 or 5.
Kcatkcatalyst on June 13th, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
We clearly have very different definitions of enthusiasm and (brains?)! My adaptation of your process would go like this:

Getting stuff done requires persistence above pretty much all else.
Being happy requires finding pleasure and meaning in my day-to-day activities.
Brains don't map to persistence very well.
With brains and no enthusiasm, I can't find something interesting for long enough to do it at all.
With enthusiasm and no brains, I can work at things and enjoy them, even if I'm not as good at them as others.

(aroraborealis, good topic! This is fun!)
inuko: wufzombie_dog on June 13th, 2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
They don't call me 'Dog' for nothin'.
Chipceo on June 13th, 2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
People with enthusiasm and no brains are far, FAR more annoying than the reverse. I don't want to be like that.
RKOVparadoox on June 13th, 2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
Exactly. This.
Words of Fire on the Surface of the Worldinfinitehotel on June 14th, 2012 02:50 pm (UTC)
I originally checked enthusiasm, because, yeah, brains without struck me as depression. The more I think about it though, the more it seems contextual based on the job at hand. Brains minus enthusiasm is more likely to get the right answer to questions that have such. Enthusiasm minus brains is more likely to create something new, either by perserverance or simply by accident.

Creative and human-focused areas, you can often get a lot further on enthusiasm because the typewriter metaphor paradoox mentioned cuts both ways. The monkeys break a lot of typewriters, but in the end you still get Shakespeare. I know a lot of smart writers, but for the most part it's not their brains getting them published. Meanwhile there's no small number of mediocre writers who get by on sheer persistence. If you throw 50-100 stories a year against the editorial wall, eventually some of them start to stick. Similarly, an enthusiastic teacher or coach is going to get more people moving than a smart one with zero enthusiasm. Maybe not in the right direction but motion is still better than stagnation; a few dozen people moving in random directions will eventually hit on something worthwhile, if only a better teacher.

On the other hand, if the brains are lacking, no amount of enthusiasm is going to help someone do open-heart surgery, design a computer chip, or unravel advanced math. In those kind of cases there's a right answer and injecting enough energy into the system and hoping the resulting randomness hits the mark isn't enough. I'd prefer my doctors were both intelligent and excited about their fields but mostly I settle for smart and hope the fear of malpractice and appreciation of their income is sufficient to get over the hump on those days they're less excited about their work. :)

Ellen: bang headkeyne on June 17th, 2012 02:52 pm (UTC)
What he said.
Boring Nerdsignsoflife on June 14th, 2012 02:51 am (UTC)
I've had brains without enthusiasm. No, thanks.
dreams_of_wingsdreams_of_wings on June 14th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
I chose "brains" but somehow in my head I assumed you were talking about what qualities you would want in people you were sharing a task or project with. (No, I have no idea why that's how I interpreted the question.)
So I picked "brains" because I can almost always count on myself for enthusiasm.
I also tend to think that I personally have a pretty good balance of the two.
formlesspassionformlesspassion on June 14th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
"Yes" to so many things said above. Y'all must have a fair amount of both brains and enthusiasm to make such interesting comments. I too voted for the quality I lack - enthusiasm. To echo several people: brains with no enthusiasm, for me, results in depression. I want to think both qualities are dynamic, but it doesn't always feel that way.

Which of these would be more likely to succeed:
a person with just a little brains and a lot of enthusiasm uses hir enthusiasm to increasing hir braininess...

a person with big brains and very little enthusiasm uses hir brains toward increasing hir enthusiasm?