Yesterday at the teacher’s meeting we were entertained by a motivational speaker. I say “entertained” instead of “motivated” because by his own admission no one can really motivate you except you. Other people inspire, encourage. They tell us how they arrived at where they are and why they are successful. They excite us for the moment. They may even bring us a bit of clarity about something that is a stumbling block to what we truly want to do. But we are the architects of our own lives and only we can apply what we hear and learn from others. We are only truly motivated when we care enough to act, and that comes from within.
Our speaker gave us the prime example of the gap between motivation and action. We all know that eating less and exercising more leads to health and weight loss, yet few of us are motivated to really live that way each day. We are a nation plagued by obesity. So we can applaud that woman who struts her newly slimmed-down body on Oprah and at the same time NOT take action to improve our own body. We’re inspired, but not motivated.
I’ve listened to dozens of motivational speakers over the years. Every major company uses them. School districts use them. Political groups use them. Community service groups use them. Even churches use them. They are usually great speakers, crowd pleasers, and entertainers full of energy and wit and even wisdom. They make us laugh and hope and think and sometimes even cry. But they cannot make us do.
If motivational speakers were really successful I’d be thin, wealthy, confident, and joyful. I’d be stronger physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. I’d probably have my own television show if I had applied all the "motivation" I’ve listened to over the years. But I’m not and I don’t, because of that little thing the Bible calls free will. I have it, and I have to admit, I don’t always use it wisely.
I had some good laughs yesterday. I enjoyed our speaker’s stories. I understood, and even agreed with, some of the points he made. But I wasn’t motivated to take any particular action. I’m not out to change the world today. I woke up with the same outlook this morning that I had yesterday: I’ll just do the best I can, where I am, with what I have. That’s about as motivated as I can get.