A Moment About Motivation

Over the years I’ve read countless so-called “motivational books.” There’s been the good – the bad – and the down right disturbing. Yet, I continue to do so for the pure reasoning that you need always be engaged. Even with what may seem at the time to be purely moronic.

It’s within those “sometimes”  you just might find that nugget of inspiration or clarity. Doesn’t mean you search out the flawed thinking. It’s just that sometimes you can’t avoid it. So you might as well try to search for some value. Even if that value is only to help solidify earlier perceptions.

Believe it or not most people have something to offer the world. Whether it be insights you never would have noticed on your own. To the most fundamental point of realizing you hope (or pray) that no one ever sees you through the eyes such as you’re seeing someone. That alone is sometimes worth the price.

The motivation industry is full of charlatans, hucksters, and others. (for the sake of civil discourse I’ll stop here) I myself was once again exposed to another real life example of a “snake oil” thumping sales pitcher.  So with an inquisitive bent I listened to a rather obscure “Millionaire” maker the other day.

Personally I find listening to people from another era and how they were perceiving difficulties and advising others how to navigate not only interesting, but actually it helps me to understand more about “what” I do. (I personally find examples from the 1930’s and 40’s at times fascinating) If only for the hope if nothing less I can discern the “what or why” as to warn others of “who or what” to stay away from.

The information as well as the delivery of what the author was saying I found interesting. However, the person responsible for making this information possible, i.e., “the producer,” and pitchman was horrible. I’m not using hyperbole. His intro into the material for this long since deceased speaker I wager had them rolling over in their place of rest. His introduction rant was only 2 and 1/2 minutes long. Yet, I shut it off either 5 or 6 times before I got through it! It was dreadful.

The lead into the material was this person’s version of “why” you should listen. This was inline with both sounding, as well as the presentation of nearly every late night “cure-all” huckster clamoring for screen time between 1 and 5 am. It was not only everything I rail against, it seamed I was listening to the real-life inspiration for Chris Farley’s famous SNL skit of a motivational speaker with the punchline “I live in a van – down by the river.”

There’s nothing wrong with anyone or any company promoting works of others whether from this time period or before. Yet, I feel these types do a great dis-service to everyone as a whole when they pile on some gobbly gook trying to insert themselves as if they’re part of the reason why you should listen. I believe they turn off more people than they actually tune in.

The first criteria one should use as to filter out most of these hucksters should be: “Have they actually done what they’re professing?” I’ve found in far too many cases these types read a book on someone or something, and now they consider themselves an “expert” because they expertly read the book. That’s not a play on words. I mean it.

If you want to learn about business, or about what goes through the mind of someone at the pinnacle of a topic you want to start with the person whom actually went through it. Not a person giving their insights on what they “think” the person went through.

If you want to learn how to drive a race car at a competitive level you want to start researching actual professional drivers for their thoughts or writings. Not someone writing about it whose entire body of experience has been they spent years as a “pit pass” ticket holder.

We do this far more often than we want to admit. Our first thoughts should be in questioning what makes this person a reason why I should listen. Second, what exactly is the agenda they’re doing this? Third, is it the pitch that’s drawing me in? Or is it the actual material I want to hear regardless of the pitch?

If your committed to, or you’ve bought into the idea that self-improvement is a life long quest or discipline you’ll realize there’s no way you’ll ever get to hear the good without enduring some of the ugly. It’s par for the course. However, what you can do is try as in cut down the absolute ridiculous. While saving both your time – and sanity.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr