Motivational speakers – Bags of wind or providers of fuel for the soul?

I have been drawn to personal development books and more recently podcasts for a lot of my working life. One of the first people I came across was Tony Robbins. I think the title of the book was “Awaken the Giant Within You”. I read it on one of my challenging family holidays with a mad bunch of kids in France which must be back in the early 2000’s. Tony is now one of the  top motivational speakers in the world but had a challenging start in life and had a lot of failure before he achieved success.

There is so much content available and so many wonderful speakers that is difficult to narrow it down to the people I would recommend.

I want to make a few points about motivational speakers and personal development wisdom.

There are no Gurus

The gems of wisdom and the routes to happiness are the same as what the Greek philosophers were writing all those years ago. The Koran, The Bible and the spectrum of religions in my view all come back to the same message of loving yourself and loving others.

So, the wisdom doesn’t change but how we take it in and apply it to our lives is where we need some help at times. This is where a good motivational speaker can be of great value and their ability to open our minds through their use of words and practices can be very influential.

Another point I would make in relation to this is personally I’ve learned a lot from the people that I have interacted with, particularly in my working life. I did a bit of research recently and in my 30 years in recruitment I’ve probably met with over 10,000 people and I know I have learned so much from listening to the life experiences of some of these people.

Habits have a big impact on our lives

I’ve certainly benefited from the people who have designed practical solutions around creating good habits and eliminating bad habits. Good habit management makes us happier and helps us live better lives. A good example of this is Hal Elrod’s “The Miracle Morning”. His story was that he had some very severe setbacks in his life, but he was able to turn his world around by coming up with actions that he was able to take starting with a good morning process. Worth looking at this but there is a wealth of examples of practices like Mel Robins 5 second rule and so many more out there.

The Chimp Paradox/The Ego/Choosing how we react

Another theme that I have come across a lot of in the self -development world is the idea that sometimes the problem is the relationship we have with ourselves. Managing the demons within can be the greatest challenge but also can produce the greatest outcomes if dealt with properly. I recently read a book by Eckhart Tolle called “A New Earth”. He has the number of other publications including “The Power of Now”. Eckhart did a series of podcasts with Oprah Winfrey going through “The New Earth” which was powerful. Another interesting podcast on this theme is “The Chimp Paradox” by Professor Steve Peters. The idea here is that our brains are complex and the battle between our calm selves and our “fight or flight” instincts needs to be managed.  Michelle Obama speaks about “Getting out of your own way” and Victor Frankl’s writing that “The last of human’s freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances” are all aimed at making us aware of the need to manage ourselves, our emotions and our responses to better serve ourselves.

People who have been through extreme experiences have wonderful clarity

Victor Frankl was a concentration camp survivor and his impact in this area is very profound. He has inspired so many of the leading names and so much of the literature in the personal development area. I came across a guy recently, Rich Roll, who had overcome addiction to become an extreme athlete and there are many similar examples of people who have a lot wisdom acquired through severe hardship and a real authenticity to bring to others. Hal Elrod is another good example of this.

Values versus making money

The US seems to be the dominant player in terms of literature and podcasts, and they have really led the way in this area. I found myself looking closer to home recently maybe because they seem so obsessed as a country with wealth and making money.

I like Gerry Hussey who is from a large West of Ireland family. I like where he comes from and the strong values that he brings to his talks. He has wonderful clarity which can be very informative and his authenticity and his genuine motivation to help others is powerful. I think that the values of the person who is delivering the wisdom are very important. There are many more. I loved Pat Divilly’s story because he is around the same age as my kids and I know his father and could identify with what that journey might have been like for both the parents and the child. Pat’s story and how he tells it is very powerful.

There are so many people out there with wisdom to offer but to recommend a few the following come to mind;


Gerry Hussey, Pat Divilly, Maureen Gaffney, Prof Steve Peters, Eckhart Tolle,

US older

Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, Denis Waitley, Tony Robins

More recent US

Hal Elrod, Mel Robbins, Darren Hardy, Rich Roll

There is a wealth of wisdom available online and in books and it is worthwhile taking the time to be exposed to what they have to offer. However, my view is your own wisdom and how you learn from life’s experiences will determine your happiness and success in life.  Maybe the best thing is to be your own guru.

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