It’s 3.45 a.m. I am waiting at the airport for an early flight. I am short of sleep. It’s foggy and cold, and the cafe is not yet open. The gremlins are chatty, and that old familiar life travelling companion who likes to talk about all the world’s problems has got far too much of my attention. My motivation is at a bit of a low. I think I will connect with one of my current favourite motivational speakers.
Have you noticed that motivational speakers, also called inspirational speakers, get rather a bad time from the media?
It seems to go like this – Motivational speakers are snake oil salesmen, selling unrealistic dreams and raising the hopes of the vulnerable masses. Being a motivational speaker seems somehow to not be a proper job, but a sleight of hand.
Perhaps driven by envy, they are seen as somehow unfairly taking advantage of us all. Or rather those of us who can’t sort out our own motivation.
Our motivation, our emotional levels and our perspectives are being influenced all the time through our relationships with our lives. Moods tend to influence moods. And these influences are all around us.
Negative, fear-based messages are subtly, and not so subtly, pushed into our minds by radio, TV, newspapers and online media.
Much of the messaging is driven by advertising. Advertising takes the view that either something is missing from our lives, or our lives could be improved or made better, more enjoyable if engaged with the brand or product. Sounds fair in some ways, but almost all advertising is deficit based. The message is that wherever you are now, something is lacking in your life. There is still some way to go for you to be happy.
Worse is the blatant fear mongering in advertising by pharmaceutical companies. And I have not even got to the news yet!
Do I need to point out that the news is essentially problem focused? That it endlessly presents us with dilemmas, tragedies and impending dooms over which we are individually powerless?
The combined influence of all this messaging is that we can find it setting our signature or baseline feelings inside ourselves. It saps motivation and health while promoting feelings of powerlessness.
So, in the face of this onslaught how can we counter it? For counter it we must or we will find ourselves deeply changed and influenced by it. After all news media and advertisers are not going to stop what they are doing. There is too much money at stake.
The first step is to make a media audit. What papers do you read and for how long? What kind of news do you gravitate towards? Notice what kinds of headlines make you want to read more.
Limit your time spent on media. This will reduce your exposure to advertising.
Start your day with a focus on something positive. This can be making a gratitude list (proven to be good for your brain) or reading a positive statement from a thought for the day website or subscription.
Listen to uplifting talks from people really engaged and passionate about what they do. Good sources for this are TED talks.
Look for motivational speakers and choose one or two you like the look and sound of. Get their books and download their recordings or subscribe to their YouTube channels.
Motivation is a malleable and changing energy in all of us. Our drive is influenced by many factors. Making sure to get it aligned with feeling good on a daily basis will affect all areas of our lives from our health to our relationships.
Motivational speakers are rallying points for us. They provide a much needed focal point of positive energy. Plugging into this energy can boost us to get out of a particular low spell in our lives as well as lift our eyes to possibility rather than obstacles.
The main criticism directed towards motivational speakers is that they are selling us impossibility. That we can’t feel good all the time. That we cannot all become millionaires, that they are peddling impossible dreams to those ill equipped to fulfill them.
We can’t feel good all the time but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reach for the best feeling levels possible. What would we think of a motivational speaker who dropped a day or two here and there and told us not to bother? This is the low feeling day. And although it is unlikely that everyone will become wealthy, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be focused on our own prosperity and that of others, and how to develop and maintain it. We don’t criticise luxury car manufacturers for advertising impossibly expensive cars to the entire world, when clearly not everyone will be able to afford one.
And what of the supposedly ill-equipped person? Isn’t positive motivation coupled with clear vision more likely to get them to take action and get the skills they need?
If, like me, your motivation and feeling positive and hopeful about life’s possibilities is a work in progress, (that is, some days are good and other days feel like walking through glue) then we are lucky to be able to tap into positive streams of focus provided by motivational speakers. I use my own intuition and common sense. I can tell a snake oil salesman from the genuine ones. I can choose whom I listen to, just as I can choose to manage the fear mongering rolling over me on a daily basis. You get to choose too.
So back to the airport. I had been feeling a little low and now I feel better for writing this blog. Writing about positivity seems to bring it into focus. Now to find an open cafe.