On Becoming a Man: Random Thoughts on Motivational TalksPosted on Thursday, May 31st, 2012 at 11:40 PM
By Gbenga Awomodu
“After the initial buzz, the effort to make a difference must begin.” – Kenneth Kwan
Last month, I wrote about the definition of success, expanding on John Maxwell’s version. It had resonated so much with me that I had to share it with my faithful readers. All those who commented seemed to have enjoyed reading, some even connected with it on a deeper level. Nevertheless, a regular reader raised caution about ‘so-called motivational speakers’ who have mastered the use of words and have easily captivated the hearts of gullible readers and followers. Of course, he was quick to also state that he was not referring to me; and I have only paraphrased him here too. That particular comment made me reason further and ask myself – why do we even write these things; is there really any new thing to write about; since many readers have most probably read about what I write, why do I need to still write about what others already know about, even much more than I could even comprehend? Perhaps, these are some of the reasons why I easily shy away from writing self-help articles. Everybody seems to keep repeating the same “6 essential principles for …bla bla bla”, “12 steps to recognising your career of best fit…” I digress, but you get the gist?
At some point in time, motivational talks and motivational speakers were ‘rubbished’ and stigmatized so much that most of them soon refused to be referred to by that tag anymore. They acquired new designations – “Inspirational Speaker/Preacher”, and became better accepted, even by the bigots. Even in the corporate world, the involvement of inspirational speakers in stimulating organisational change and improving productivity has been controversial. So, who is a motivational/inspirational speaker and how relevant can they be?
Simply, a motivational speaker is someone who has the special gift to inspire and motivate an audience to succeed, usually through speaking and/or writing. This person often taps into the power of storytelling in order to cause someone else to act for their own good. Usually, just like everyday advice and even church sermons, the listener has the power of choice – to listen or not to, to agree or disagree, to take action or not. Nevertheless, in more technical situations, like in the corporate world, it important to note that you don’t motivate people to change; oftentimes, you just need to involve them as participants. They most likely need to be involved in the process of executing change, beyond just being talked to. It is difficult to measure the impact of motivational talks, but when the speaker has some background in your area of expertise, as in software engineering or computer programming, it is easier to connect with them and hence be strongly impacted.
To summarise the long story: I think that motivational talks are good, but both the speakers and the listeners have a role to play. Motivational speakers and writers have the responsibility to skillfully paint clear pictures and tell their audience what they can do (not just the exceptional things that the speakers/writers themselves have done). Listeners and readers should also come to the table with clearly defined goals and with open minds to sieve the content for what is applicable and truly useful as opposed to what amounts to building castles in the air or just getting only a temporary high. What do you think about this? Do you subscribe to motivationals talks and to what extent, if yes?
P.S: I recently discovered Daniel Pink, the author of four provocative bestselling books about the changing world of work. His latest offering, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” explores what truly motivates human beings and submits that “The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” I immediately added it to my reading list in January. I later found a lengthy review by Ikhide Ikheloa. Have you seen or read the book? I hope to lay my hands on it soon.
Photo credits: www.deepimpactonline.com
Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at Bainstone Ltd./BellaNaija.com. When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. Follow him on Twitter: @gbengaawomodu | Gbenga’s Notebook: www.gbengaawomodu.com | Facebook Page: Gbenga Awomodu