Motivation pushes us, but most often, that push has a short-term effect. Many years ago, I went to a motivational seminar with a colleague. It was huge venue with music, a light show, lots of energy, and a speaker who was challenging me to ‘Step Up’! Yeah, baby! But, as I was driving home, I could hear Soul li Soul on the radio: “Back to life. Back to reality…” That motivation barely lasted past the parking lot.
As motivational speaker, Scott Berkun says, “No one can give you ‘real’ motivation.” He’s right; no one can want it for us. Only we can give ourselves that. If we’re passionate about something, motivation is intrinsic. Most days, anyway. The opposite of that is a damn job. Somewhere in between is where most of us fall, a life between reality and a dream.
A motivational speaker is some person telling us, at yelling level, that we can achieve anything while calling us out for not being all that we can be when they know nothing about us in the first place.
Telling and yelling isn’t reaching and teaching. It just seems to be more important to appear like the source guru than leading and engaging with actual individuals. It’s not about the speaker, whether it’s us or anyone else. It’s about the practitioners on the mat, that guy in seat 17, Sandy in row 3, and Mike in the back.
Inspirational people are different. They have a powerful story to tell, expertise to share, and wisdom delivered like artistry. It gets inside, stirs, and moves us. A good leader, a good coach, a good instructor or teacher, that oddly engaging bartender, the guy who broke his back and then summited Everest (Bear Grylls), The Iceman (Wim Hof), that genius millionaire entrepreneur and author who lost everything twice (James Altucher), or Ant Middleton, Sadhguru, CT Fletcher, Kali Muscle, Ollie Ollerton, Simon Sinek, Muffy Davis, and about a bunch of other people.
I dare anyone to watch David Goggins on YouTube and even more so, read his book “Can’t Hurt Me” and not feel like we need to go do some sh*t. Much more powerful than, “Set goals”, or “Live each day to the fullest” or “Believe and achieve”, or “Follow my three-step strategy” (how does it always end up being three?) and other platitudes that are only designed to sell empty motivation.
No one likes to be told what to do or how to live their lives. The people I mentioned simply tell their story and share their wisdom. They aren’t concerned about convincing us of anything. But as it was said in Cool Hand Luke, “Some folks, you just can’t reach.” And that’s okay. Not everything is for everyone and there’s a lot of people in the audience. But for those with whom it resonates, it’s magic.
And we don’t have to be as famous as those I mentioned or have such incredible stories to draw from. It’s about the approach, delivering value, real-world experience, knowledge, expertise, engaging conversation, or even humor in a way that doesn’t tell anyone what to do, belittle them, yell towards them, or tell them how to act.
Guru-level wisdom is all around us and doesn’t need to all come from one particular source. It can come in bits and pieces from anyone, anywhere, and at any time as long as our awareness is open to it.
Cheers to the positive, the passionate, the inspired and inspiring, the authentic, and the engaging sharers of human experience.
Photo by London Real/David Goggins