Thursday, August 26, 2010

The motivational speaker

The conference opened with this amazing motivational speaker, is I guess what you would call him.

He'd had all kinds of impressive success in business and I think continues with the businessy business, but has also just written a book and is giving speeches.

He totally sucked me in. He made me cry no fewer than three times during his talk. He was very moving.

I know they get these speakers so that you sit there and get all inspired, and then you go back to your office all kinds of motivated to effect positive change. To turn around and inspire others with your newfound passion.

He motivated me, all right. But not in the intended direction.

Because here's the thing.

So he was talking about how he was striving for a CEO position of this huge company...and his current company approached him repeatedly. But he just didn't feel like they were big enough or prestigious enough. So he turned them down repeatedly.

And then one day he woke up and was all, "FML. I'm living the life my dad wanted and transferred his expectations to me. I am not happy. I'm not living my life story!"

Of course I paraphrase with the FML. I'm pretty sure he's above that.

Anyway, he then said yes to the other company, which was and is focused on health care. He began living his life story. He started being happy.

And then he told these moving and tear-inducing stories involving successes and life changes of others.

What he was leading up to, of course, was this: Are you living your life story?

He said, "You know your life story. Everyone knows their life story...but they don't necessarily live it. Some people sell out for money, or fame, for example."

He paused.

"Are you living your life story? Or have you sold out?"

At which point I was all, "FML, no, no goddammit, I'm not living my life story."

And then it hit me. Not only am I not living my life story, I have sold out.

For health care and retirement benefits.

Fucking motivational speaker.


  1. You're not alone. I've totally sold out for great benefits and money to pay my student loans. My (our) dream is to drop everything, move to the caribbean, and take tourist on snorkling excursions. We'll have our loans paid of in 5 years, so it might actually happen (unless we decide to have a baby).

  2. If it's selling out, I'm right there with you. I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, but I have a very stable job with wonderful benefits and insurance. I look at it as protecting myself and my family, not as a sell out.
    And, you are starting to live your dream. You're starting to write the book. You touch unknown number of lives with your blog. You have Nick and J and Betty. You're doing pretty well.

  3. I have to argue with him on the everyone knowing their life story bit. Or maybe I'm just ignoring and denying my life story. Hmm.

  4. Dude. Story of my (current) life. My job kills me. Like I can almost feel my soul dying a little each day. But I stay because I make approximately 3 times what I could make at another company. I have totally and completely sold out for money. I feel dirty.

  5. Hey Lisa, Haven't commented in a while, but I think there's a fatal flaw with this whole thing. Which is: your job = your life story. You can live your life story and still have a "not my dream job" job or a "not even what I'd remotely like to be doing for 8 hours every day" job if you realize there's 24 hours in each day, plus weekends! :) and do those 8 or 9 or whatever hours let you live your life story the other 16. like being with Jordan without the overwhelming fear and anxiety about what would you do if had to be hospitalized or where's your next meal coming from or what if all you could afford to feed him where chip butties (whatever those are), etc. Our society is so goofy about how we define ourselves - by our income, our job, our status instead of our passions and our roles (wife, daughter, mother) and how we spend our time (with family, volunteering, traveling, writing a book.) Living your life story doesn't have to mean sacrificing some level of security and common sense about protecting and providing for your family. and you're not a sell out if you have a job that's not your passion. Just make sure you follow your passions as well. Which it seems to me you do based on reading your blog. Don't be so hard on yourself! btw, I'm in healthcare and would love to know who the speaker was! Safe travels, Carrie

  6. I'm aware and really bitter about the fact I work for salary and insurance. I'm skeptical of anyone who strives to be CEO of a major corporation. Which is terrible of me.

    I admire you for focusing on writing - you're an amazing writer.

  7. I hate motivational speakers. Messages like that do little but make you feel guilty for not living your dream life, as if that were an option for most people. My job is OK, not my dream job, but I love my family and I do the best I can. That's all I can do.

  8. I definitely feel your pain. I sold out years ago to take care of my kids as a single mom. I worked and went to school and got 2 degrees but remain in the same dead end job because I don't have experience in my field. But it pays the bills and provides the insurance and I need the constant paycheck and the insurance....But that said; I'm glad I took care of my kids (all grown now). I'm happy that I met my husband and have such a wonderful family complete with beautiful grandchildren. Maybe I should have stepped off of the ledge a time or two - I don't know. But like that saying is what happens while you're making plans, or something like that. Anyway, I agree with Wendy - love and enjoy your beautiful family, do the best you can and look for little open doors for your dreams.

    Oh yeah, and as for motivational speakers...they are great in some ways, but somehow, after the high wears off, you're kind of always in for a downer that makes reality a bit gray. Something not right about that.

  9. Sometimes I really want to smack the truth tellers. If it were as easy as they make it sound, wouldn't everyone be doing it?

  10. Motivational speakers = guilt trip travel agents.
    Not my kind of holiday.
    Seriously your life storey is not just about your job, this doesnt define who you are. Who you are is your family as well, its the way you treat others, its about how you care for your children, its about how you care for your environment, it is so so much more than how you put food on the table. It is the sum of all the parts of your existence. :-)

  11. Tia - It sounds like you have a good plan in an enticing direction, though. I mean, yes, everyone has to pay off their loans, and if you can do that and then lead snorkeling excursions. Oh, dreamy!

    cla517 - It is true, the protecting your family part. True and important. And you are right, I am starting. These speakers always make me feel like I should just leap.

    Lisa - Um, another thing that I just took at face value. I know mine, but that doesn't mean you know yours.

    Hillary - OK, this bit sent me into a tailspin, because I'm not even selling out for money (not directly, anyway) - and so I was sitting there all, crap, I'm not even making loads of cash. I should've at least sold out for money.

    Carrie - You are so completely right, and I very much appreciate your comment and all the thought behind it. It is true that it assumes that your job is your everything, which is so far from true for me. I would love it if my job were closer to my everything, or at least met more of my needs than it does. Also, the guy was Bill George. I just looked him up - he's no longer CEO - he teaches at Harvard. I really enjoyed listening to him until I started feeling terrible about myself.

    HKW - Things like this: "I'm skeptical of anyone who strives to be CEO of a major corporation." are among the many reasons I adore you. And thank you. I really appreciate it.

    Wendy - You nailed it. You feel so guilty for not doing something that's just not a possibility for most. We're all doing the best we can.

    Kate - I think you did exactly what you should have done. You provided for your kids and you have an amazing family. I would stay that my family is more important to me than absolutely anything. And I think that's the case for just about everyone I like and respect.

    I absolutely love the "look for little open doors for your dreams."

    Lisa - Yes, of course. I do think that there's a valuable message there. But I suppose what's been much more valuable to me is all these messages from people - women, all - saying take a more holistic view of your life. It's not all about what you do for work. (And as I write that I wonder really, why do I listen to men so much?)

    Go-Betty - Hahaha! I suppose they're not my kind of holiday either. It sucks to end a holiday feeling worse than when you started.

    You are so right. Thank you.

  12. this was a great post and very, very thoughtful comments.

    the only way I define success is by how happy i am. not by what i do or how much i make doing it.

  13. Yes, yes it's all well and good for everyone to "live their life story," but really, who's life story would be cleaning toilets or collecting trash? Not to be cynical or anything, but I think most motivational speakers are full of shit.

  14. As if "Eat Pray Love" wasn't bad enough, in making us feel like we need to make changes in our lives, now you have a motivational speaker guilt you some more? Come on. I'd love to live in Sweden and have a socially responsible, yet well paying, job. Or to run a sailboat excursion business in the islands. Yet, I make the choice to stay where I am, because following those drams would mean leaving my family and decreasing the time I can spend with them to the occasional week's vacation. It's all about compromise.

  15. I feel like I've sold out, and right now I'm not even working.

    Stupid motivational speaker.


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