Since my injury, I have attended quite a few motivational/inspirational speaking engagements. Some I found uplifting, some I found downright depressing. The people who inspired me were the ones that, while sharing their challenging stories of how they got to where they are, also shared solutions they found throughout their journey and how their lives have changed for the better from the onset of what lead them to become inspirational speakers. The speakers I found depressing were the ones that stood on a soapbox and simply shared their sad tale. They told you what had happened to them to make their lives so difficult (all of these folks had a disability or catastrophic event happen to them of some sort), what their obstacles were and that’s it. Very anti-climactic. I don’t know how the rest of the audience felt, but I am not inspired simply by hearing how difficult somebody else’s life is, regardless of it’s level of challenge. A disability or any dramatic life alteration does not automatically come with a license to inspire, and I think that some people feel that it does. What inspires me is how an individual handles what happens to them. Do they play the victim role, “blah blah blah happened to me and I have no control over making things better,” or the pity roll, “blah blah blah happened to me and I’m still here… Miserable, but here.” And again, that’s where they stop. Okay, so this catastrophic event took place in your life, obviously extremely challenging, then what? One person I went to hear left me so depressed after listening to him that I asked the event manager for my money back. I’m not kidding. I am going to spend an hour listening to a very sad man talk about how depressing his life is for $250? No way. The incredible thing was, a few people heard me speak to the event manager (as discreetly as I could and obviously out of ear shot of the speaker) and they then asked for their money back too! I understand that challenging things happen to us all… I am writing this very blog using Siri because I was in a car accident that paralyzed me from the shoulders down and I can’t use my fingers to type… Believe me, I get it! But what are we going to DO about our challenging things? How are we going to thrive (not survive, it’s simply not enough ) and feel fantastic, inside and out?! How do we smooth the bumps in the road for ourselves? To me, that’s the definition of self-help. We are all works in progress, but it is those people, the ones sharing their challenges and their triumphs, that I find myself feeling full of hope and possibilities as I leave their seminar and was moved enough by their life’s lessons to apply them to my own life.
If you’re not able to attend a motivational or inspirational self-help lecture, no worries. Just take a good look around you, and there are people jumping life’s hurdles with grace, humor, dignity and even just plain fun right in your own backyard. It’s important to remember that these people are not floating on an eternal silver-lined cloud, never experiencing trials and tribulations of their own. They are simply trying to find an easier, happier way through the muck that is in our way at times. And if one solution doesn’t work, they try again. And sometimes again and again until their path is dry and muck free. These folks also know one of the most important thing about problem solving. If you don’t do anything, one sure thing will happen… Nothing.