Why motivational talks are not so motivating


I shift uncomfortably on my seat as a motivational speaker gives his two cents. I from time to time nod my head in agreement, but for the better part of the session I turn to a friend sitting beside me and give her a quizzical look, especially when some statements such as ‘only 5 per cent of people think’, ‘success and failure are predictable’, ‘perspective is more important than reality’ and ‘life is all about perspective’ are uttered. Great quotes, makes sense- I initially think.

However, moments after the messages and analogies seep into my brain, I reconsider. I question the motivation or inspiration behind them. Self-help books or motivation talks have never been my cup of tea; maybe that is what will influence my following opinions.

One of the reasons I am dubious of these so called ‘inspirational’ talks, especially on success is how to practically use these verbal statements in real life. How can I turn an analogy of the hare and fox into my own complex life, away from the forest? They motivate you into achieving success, but do not give a specific set of behaviours on which to focus on.  Also, if success is predictable, how come I know people who seem to have a promising future, get stuck in one place? And just where did they get the statistics from?

The secret to success is that it is noT a secrtet.

According to me these motivational talks, are like learning a big vocabulary, but never getting to use the word as often. Yes, it is at the back of your mind, but you don’t know how and where to apply it. I equate them to a temporary high that wears off after we resume our lives. Motivational speakers argue that the verbal rules are a conduit to success, that when followed will make success a guarantee in after a couple of sittings. This view, constrains success in a box of do’s and don’ts. The theory of self- efficacy that describes a person’s extent of their belief in their ability to undertake a task and reach a goal is also slightly overlooked.

With all that said, I do not ignore the fact that motivation speakers have indeed transformed many attitudes and beliefs for the better, producing tangible results. However my opinions remain static. To each his own.


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