My Rottweiler, who is just a year old, broke the plate glass living room window this morning. She was barking very exuberantly at passing neighbor dogs and simply got carried away. I warped in from the bedroom and there she sat with a doggy-stunned look on her face amidst the shattered glass. She was unharmed, but still, damage was done.

Have you ever gotten very caught up with enthusiasm for something and over-reached? I know I have. Years ago a friend asked me to make suggestions on how she could possibly "do" a book on a particular topic. We sat down together and within an hour I had her entire manuscript outlined, as well as a marketing plan and a list of resources. I was very enthusiastic!

When I hadn't heard from her after a week or so, I finally tracked her down and asked how it was going. She politely told me that, while she appreciated my input, she hadn't even decided if she wanted to attempt the project ... and if or when she did, she'd really like to come up with the framework herself.

I hadn't really listened to what she was asking of me and went well beyond anything that was helpful to her. We were both uncomfortable about it and I was a little hurt until I realized it was mostly my fault.

I know parents who are "very enthusiastic" as well. They allow (encourage) their children to participate in multiple extracurricular activities and then seem genuinely surprised when the kids want to quit or are too tired to keep up with schoolwork. Damage is done to the family.

And what about those "extreme" sports fans? They scream and cheer for the home team and hurl insults and obscenities toward the opponents.

I've even seen fans send an onslaught of berating shouts toward their own team if they weren't pleased with the performance. Damage is done to fellow spectators who have to listen to the venomous vitriol, ruining the game.

Political enthusiasts can cause wreckage, too. During every election we hear about people who do unethical things, including implementing rumor mills, to tarnish the "other guy." It never seems to work out as planned.

Some of the worst destruction is caused by religious zealots. Instead of gently sharing the love of God and serving unconditionally, they take a proud, disruptive, angry stance "for" or "against" something. The very dedicated folks of the Westboro Baptist Church are a good example of this. "Damage" hardly describes what these "over-eager beavers" leave in the wake of their protests of military funerals.

Passion, excitement and enthusiasm are a gift, but we need to make sure that our zeal doesn't infringe on the rights or desires of others.

If we accomplish great things, but it is done in a bulldozing fashion, it never reflects well on the cause we are trying to promote or our character.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Markins can be reached at Visit her blog

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