They are one of the most derided professionals in the cyberspace. Introduce yourself as a motivational speaker and you’ll probably hear a wave of giggles or sniggers. The prevalent notion is that motivational speakers are frauds. Sweet-mouth con artists who have mastered the art of creating rhymes out of a slew of words. They are all about bourgeoisie suits and impeccable grammar. Tools they employ to bamboozle their gullible audience with their gospel of ‘aspire to perspire’. As a result, it has become not just unfashionable, but also embarrassing to be called a motivational speaker.
I have mixed feelings whenever the ‘perspire to refire’ mockers are having a go at people whose vocation centres around inspiring others.
Most of the time, their irritation is understandable.
As economic conditions worsen leading to lower living standards, and people see all their attempts at making the semblance of a good life happen for themselves fall apart, it’s hard to keep up the desire to press on.
Existing in a society where the dubious and greedy feed fat on the public’s collective wealth does little to inspire hard work. The people reason, “Why do I need to work like a horse when all around me, the people who do next to nothing are the ones thriving?”
And so they are antagonistic towards the convenient scapegoats—motivational speakers.
But motivational speakers aren’t the problem.
They fulfill a need all of us have: the need to be inspired. And whether we choose to acknowledge the work they do or not, they are important.
I get it.
Some of them go overboard with the abstract pictures they paint and the lack of clarity when it comes to outlining practical steps to go from point A to B, rather than repeat some esoteric mumbo-jumbo.
There are charlatans as well who are all about the gift of gab and have little or nothing to offer by way of substance. Half-baked philosophers who skirt around the real issues and exploit the desperation of the masses to sell high falutin dreams founded on sand.
Nonetheless, to allude that all motivational speakers are guilty of this is false.
At different points in our lives, we all have needed (and will continue to need) that extra push to keep us on track or jolt us from a state of inertia.
Some of us listen to the Tony Robbins’ and Nick Vujicic’ of this world before we get into our task of the day every morning.
The reason is not far-fetched: the encouraging words of a stranger urging you on, prodding you to not give up despite your challenges is capable of injecting the adrenaline you need to jumpstart your career or give that exam one more try.
It’s impossible to ignore the place of motivation.
I have listened to a few people share stories of how a podcast from a motivational speaker was the driving force behind many of the feats they achieved.
At some point, I used to listen to random inspirational speeches every morning, and I attest to the can-do thoughts they evoked in me.
If you live in a country like Nigeria, I daresay you of all people should embrace any message that has the potential to initiate a positive trajectory in your life. You battle erratic power supply, increasing petroleum products pricing, inept governance, decrepit infrastructure, and death traps disguised as roads, yet you think you do not need a huge dose of motivation?
Even if all the speaker had to say was, “You can do it. You can be better. Go out there and conquer. Stake your claim in the world,” they would have dropped a seed in the discerning.
The words may sound cheesy, but the crucial question is: have they lied?
Shouldn’t you be striving to be better?
Shouldn’t you go out there and put in the effort to surmount your challenges?
Shouldn’t you be staking your claim in the world when you were born for a purpose?
Even if the speaker does not fulfill your desire to see a blueprint, the simplest “never give up” is enough to spur you to be relentless in the pursuit of your goals.
It’s not motivational speakers that need to be cancelled; it’s the culture of posturing and grandstanding we need to do away with.