Friday, 23 September 2011

Motivational Speakers: It's time to get real

If you’re one of the plethora of self-styled motivational speakers who are pestering the world with their mixture of snake oil and psycho-babble, I’ve got some really sad news for you:

There are some problems in the world.

I guess that this won’t be much of a surprise to most of you, but there’s clearly a bunch of people out there who believe that simply adopting the correct positive mental attitude can make the world into a fairytale wonderland full of opportunities, jollity and general loveliness.

Take the guy ("motivational speaker, presenter, comedian") whose website I stumbled across yesterday. With a waggle of his magic finger (he does seem to point at the camera rather a lot) he’ll help you and your organisation overcome the barriers that hold you back from good performance in life, help you stop being miserable (apparently being miserable is much harder work than being happy) and generally “Make Work Your Play” (insert hand drawn smiley face here …)

His clients love him. One of the testimonials reads “he makes life seem like one big adventure with no real problems or obstacles.”

I have two words for purveyors of such nonsense:

Get Real.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had the privilege of spending time in the West African nations of Niger and Burkina Faso. I’ve met inspiring women who have built up a collective in their village to scrape together just enough food to keep their families alive after the poor harvest. I’ve spoken to the elders of another village where the nutrition and food distribution programme means that infant mortality is gradually improving. I’ve sat in the rain under the corrugated iron roof with the group of women who are involved in a scheme to provide income by buying, rearing and selling goats. Average Gross National Income in their country is £330. They won’t get anywhere near that.

All of them were inspiring individuals, and their clarity of vision, commitment and rugged determination to succeed represents a challenge to all those who meet them.

But anyone who would dare to suggest that a quick dose of positive mental attitude could make their life “seem like one big adventure with no problems or obstacles” is a braver man than I am.

This world has its problems. Some of them are complex and demanding. But the right approach is to work together to tackle them, not to pretend that by adopting a fixed grin and a jolly demeanour they will all disappear and suddenly the world will become a magical wonderland.

Rant over. You may now get back to work. Or play. Guess it all depends on your attitude.

No comments:

Post a Comment