Are You Enthusiastic Or Overzealous?

How To Balance Your Emotions and Psychology In Life And Work

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In the Big ’80s, I worked as a Page for NBC-TV in Burbank, California.

It was a tremendous first professional job, albeit Internship, to have in the entertainment industry. To this day, attaining a position as an NBC Page is considered prestigious initial employment for any college graduate with aspirations to work in show business (do they still call it that?). Not a Page for CBS, ABC, etc., but for NBC…the “Peacock Network.”

Consequently, its not an easy job to get. Many young potential actors, writers, directors, producers, etc. apply for the position, either on the West Coast or the East Coast, the latter of which was fictiously represented by Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell for comic effect on TV’s 30 Rock, NBC’s hit sitcom from a few seasons back.

Many get the job by simply applying for it, knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone, or by just having the balls to go out and get it, as I did.

In September of 1983, following my graduation from Nazareth College of Rochester, New York (my hometown), I moved to Los Angeles. The following October I went to see a taping of the NBC TV show, Family Ties, which was a favorite of mine. Following the taping, I stopped a Page who was working the show and convinced him that I wanted to do what he was doing. He gave me a number to call, which I did for several weeks, after which I finally was called in for an interview.

After more calls, mostly weekly over the next six months, I got the job.

It all seemed to fit if maybe dare I say by destiny?

I always identified with Family Ties star, Michael J. Fox, because we had the same middle initial (although Fox uses a “period” [.] after his “J” and I don’t), and we’re both short and considered cocky.

In fact, legend has it, that Fox was so cocky at his initial audition to play the now-iconic role of Alex. P. Keaton on the show that then-NBC entertainment president Brandon Tartifkoff was not that crazy about casting the exuberant thespian. Fortunately, Tartifkoff relented, Fox was cast, and Family Ties went on to become one of the most popular TV sitcoms of the 1980s and of all time.

Tartifkoff’s ability to go beyond his personal perspective, and think outside the box, paved the way for success in this particular case. In retrospect, it was possibly Fox’s short man's complex that influenced the cocky nature that ultimately singled himself out from other actors who auditioned for the role.

In the end, he winningly channeled his perceived- cockiness into his performance as Alex P. Keaton.

Again. I can relate. I’ve had that short-man complex thing going on. But it hasn’t always worked in my favor and instead has been many times misperceived by a few individuals in certain circles I have periodically traveled over the years.

Namely, a few in the NBC Page circle.

Many thought I was too cocky until, of course, they didn’t.

They decided I wasn’t after I represented the only positive voice in a feature article about NBC Pages that was published in the Los Angeles Times in the fall of 1984, one year after I moved to L.A. All of a sudden, everyone who thought I was cocky, changed their mind and said things like, “You’ve changed” and “Wow — you’re different.”

And I was like, “Dude — I haven’t changed. I’m still the same guy I’ve always been. It’s YOUR perception of me that’s changed or is different.”

Shortly before I had left Rochester for L.A. in September of 1983, a young woman I was dating broke up with me because she said I was “too much.”

Apparently, that meant I had too much energy for her. I was too enthusiastic in general, and I was overzealous.

But was I really any of those things ever? Or was she who was just under-zealous?

Maybe to both of those.

But why couldn’t my friend have been more like Brandon Tartikoff was in dealing with Michael J. Fox? Why couldn’t she look beyond her perception, and maybe try to see the bigger picture; to make my portended overzealousness work in her favor, as did Tartikoff with Fox?

Admittingly, I may have come on a little strong through the years. I guess my zest for living and sometimes my work can be a little intimidating or overbearing for others. Nobody’s perfect.

But — there’s also nothing wrong with bringing a little balance into the mix.

I’m reminded of the children’s story, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. How Goldie tasted the three different bowls of porridge and sampled the three different mattresses. One bowl was too hot, another too cold, but the third was just right; one mattress was too hard, another too soft, but the third was just right.

It’s all about balance, and getting it “right.”

“All things in moderation,” is another way it’s been put since the beginning time, and that can easily be applied to our energy levels.

So, whether it's the misperceptions or insecurities of others that result in rash judgments that lead to the end of a friendship or a job, there’s nothing wrong with finding the right balance in how we present ourselves to the world.

But there are a few ways to categorize it all and conduct ourselves more productively without harsh confrontations or experiencing loss.

For starters, we can all be more honest with ourselves and increase our self-awareness. We can learn to keep our egos in check and carefully and objectively observe our interactions with others. If we feel we are being unjustly perceived as overzealous, then we should go to the horse’s mouth and question those who are making these observations and politely ask them to explain what they mean; to respectfully express how they see us, and how they believe they and others might see us.

Talk it out, man. But be open and sincere, compassionate and kind. Not harsh and judgemental — with others as well as with ourselves.

And here’s another thought: we can do things like record ourselves on video; to see how we might appear to others; to further help keep in check a few idiosyncrasies that indeed may or may not be working in our favor, and that we might not have any idea that we are utilizing.

It’s not gonna’ hurt to implement these plans, is it? Certainly not anymore than it hurts when we feel someone unfairly or mistakenly misjudges us, potentially leading to the loss of a job or a relationship.

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Herbie J Pilato writes about pop-culture, stays positive, and hosts THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, a TV talk show on Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime UK.

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