Today for work, I had to attend mandatory “Professional Development Day.” It is honestly the most backward ass, non-term imaginable. The definitions of ‘professional’ and ‘development’ are questionable at best as far as this event is considered. Basically, I have to go to several seminars where people discuss ideas as to how to improve my ability to teach. It would be wonderful if that actually happened, but more often than not it ends up being a huge waste of time. Seriously, I was just checking out social media on my tablet the entire time. Honestly, I think the reason for this is my work’s weird obsession with hiring motivational speakers to come in and “advise” and motivate us.
When did the motivational speaker movement begin? Really, who figured out that racket and realized they could make bank for talking without actually offering anything. Now, obviously, I may be a little critical of the position and function of motivational speakers (similar to my thoughts on self-help industry which will come up in a moment), but shouldn’t we be? I mean what do they actually do?
Sure, they go to organizations and speak for a few hours to motivate the employees/workers there while shilling their, usually, self-published books on whatever bullshit philosophy they have been spouting. Yeah, I am not a fan of motivational speakers but not without good reason. These are not coaches or mentors; they are simply cheerleaders that don’t stay for the conclusion of the game.
I get that people need a boost every once in a while, but what is more useful is actual knowledge and skills and purpose to work toward and with. If all you have to offer is an encouraging word then get the fuck out of here. I can watch an inspirational video on YouTube of different animal species becoming unlikely friends. It provides the exact same endorphins and motivation as a speaker at a heavily reduced rate. Same thing applies to self-help books. Most offer nothing than useless maxim and platitudes without substance. Besides, wouldn’t the type of person seeking self-help not really be the best suited to take information from a book and apply it to their lives? After all, if they were capable of helping themselves in such a manner, why are they buying the books in the first place?
Truly that is my biggest complaint about 99% of the self-help/motivational industry: lack of substance. There are some within this industry of appearances, books, audios, etc. that offer legitimate help and methods of improving one’s self and/or prospects, but most offer nothing and charge ridiculous amounts of money for the privilege of giving you that nothing. In reality, even for the few genuine people within the motivational/self-help industry, the biggest scam is that none of it will be effective without you.
You could read every book, listen to every audio/podcast, do every recommended task/activity, and even have a one on one session with Tony fucking Robbins, and it would not matter jack shit if you are unwilling to change. That is the big kicker. It’s all meaningless because ultimately the impetus for actual, legitimate change and motivation will always be internal. There might be external desires and wants that push you further, but the improvement and change will always come from internal forces and needs.
What do you think? Am I, perhaps, being a bit too harsh and critical of the self-help/motivational industry? Not critical enough? Let me know.