This has been bugging me for quite a while, but it came to a head this weekend. I was lucky enough to attend a conference and listen to some seminars and workshops given by ‘motivational speakers’ – you will see why I have said that ironically soon. I was listening to this one guy talking complete nonsense about networking and pitching yourself, but he was so expressive and passionate that everyone seemed to be mesmerised by him. What made it even worse was that some of the audience were young people and they were being taking in by what was essentially complete drivel. Then the talk ended (much to my delight) and the man announced that he was selling a book and a course if people wanted to learn more.
I was expecting people to get up and leave, hearing the ka-ching sound from the pound signs bouncing over this guy’s head, but they didn’t. They rushed from their seats and signed on the dotted line – that line was worth £100. I literally exclaimed ‘Are you serious?!’ seeing people clamouring to cash in on this supposedly priceless opportunity. Realising that at this point everyone seemed to be looking at me with disdain, I looked at them with disbelief and like Ross Kemp, I got the hell outta there! But that made me think…are motivational speakers just straight up conmen?
The simple answer to that is no, of course not. There are plenty of experienced individuals full of morsels of wisdom that they must share with society in order to empower them to be on the same level. But some of them get paid ridiculously to do it and therein lies the problem. Okay, sure there is always some reimbursement for a person’s time and cost, but surely paying someone thousands to essentially tell people what to do is a bit ridiculous? But people buy into it. They sign up for the courses. They make the notes. And without knowing it, they have in their own way been indoctrinated.
There is one solution to this problem, and again it is a very simple one. Do not take things at face value. Question them. Do not be afraid to tell someone they are wrong (in a polite way of course – screaming at people never solves anything). If you can stand up for what you believe in and have the confidence to fight for them, then the world will bow at your feet. It does not happen straight away and the fear often draws away the confidence that you have to say anything against the tide of popular opinion. But nothing worthy is ever achieved easily. Once you have harnessed the power to question as well as the power to answer, nothing, and I mean nothing is impossible (and that is not a cliché).
So when you are sitting in a talk or if you ever get the chance, listening to a motivational speaker, take what they say and really try to intellectually unravel it. If they are talking bull, then start waving your big red cape and shouting “Torro!” – and don’t let that bull get the better of you ever again.