By Tom Eck
So much attention and praise has lavished upon motivational speakers and authors, that many tend to worship them as deities. I suggest that they only sugar coat reality in an attempt to make people feel better about themselves. It sells. Books and, more recently, motivational posters with beautiful inspiring photographs flood bookstores and office supply businesses. But is it honest? In reality, the entire process is nothing more than a Pollyannaish view of the world, which eventually explodes when reality bites us in the ass.
Take for example the saying, “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Does it? Probably makes you sicker, weaker, and less resistant to a future onslaught. What is certain and more honest is that what doesn’t kill you, only postpones the inevitable.
And what about ”No pain, no gain”? Isn’t most pain just that—pain? The only pain I know that involves gain is in my stomach when I eat too much.
And the exaltation of “consistency?” To me, it’s only a virtue if you’re not a screw up. How many times has someone tried to make us feel better about ourselves by insisting that our mistakes are just “a learning experience”? More likely, our mistakes just are a reminder that our real purpose in life is only to serve as a warning to others.
I remember my high school track coach preaching to us that “winners never quit and quitters never win.” But those who never win and never quit are just idiots. And, if you are a winner, you probably never ascend to greater heights than when you are bouncing up and down on the egos of those you just defeated.
And tradition? When I see the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, I am reminded that just because it has always been done that way, does not mean that it’s not incredibly stupid.
I am as much a romantic as anyone, but have discovered that when love is in the air, it’s usually pooping on my head or my car. And, no, it’s not good luck, as some cultures urge—unless you’re in the car wash business or selling shampoo.
Our dreams of future achievements are used by most motivational speakers to inspire us on to new and untried adventures– for a small price, of course. True, there may be no greater joy than soaring on the wings of your dreams… unless there is nowhere to land except in the ocean of reality.
And, if at first you don’t succeed, then failure may be your style. How much easier would life be if we just learned that if we can’t do something well, just enjoy doing it poorly. We are continually reminded by the optimists that pressure can turn a lump of coal into a diamond. But isn’t it more truthful to admit that pressure is more likely to turn the average person into a lump of blubbering ectoplasm?
How romantic is it to wish upon a falling star? The next time you do, consider the possibility that the star is really a meteor, hurtling to earth to destroy all life — and your wish with it–unless you wished for death by a meteor.
So, if platitudes from a self-proclaimed guru with his smile of 32 teeth (all in the front), or posters of pretty pictures and cute sayings are all it takes to motivate you, then you probably have a very easy job, the kind robots will be doing soon.