Motivational Quotes: Inspiration for the Uninspired

I'm not an easy person to motivate.

That doesn't mean I lack motivation. It means you won't inspire me to do my best by bombarding me with clever slogans and aphorisms. I find my own inspiration and motivate myself without any clever quotes to guide me.

"Just do it" never did it for me. It was just a catchy t-shirt slogan that people bought for $30 so they could shill for Nike.

"No pain, no gain?" No thanks. I don't have to "eat lightning and crap thunder," as Mickey so delicately put it in Rocky II.

I get credo after credo in my Twitter feed, exhorting me to do my best, to never give up, to ignore failure, to never sleep, to get hungry, to ignore the hunger, to seize the day, sweat blood, ignore the pain, seize the tiger's tail, grab the bull by its horns, and take no bullshit.

And they keep coming. Life coaches and people who are annoyingly upbeat in the morning share so many gym poster philosophies, I wonder if they actually have time to do client work.

It's not that I don't want to do better, I just don't want to do it because a poster told me to. These buffed-up bon mots don't make me want to run a marathon or flip over a tractor tire. I didn't feel like hanging in there for Friday, and I never hated Mondays.

"Suck it up now so you don't have to suck it in later," said one quote. I'm afraid you're a bit late.

"Better sore than sorry," said another, which I read in a Canadian accent. When Canadians apologize, it sounds like "sore-y." At least being sorry doesn't keep me from raising my arms over my head.

"Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going," said an Under Armour t-shirt. Yeah, that'll get me to the gym: I could fall over, puke on myself, and then choke to death. Good times, good times.

"Making excuses burns zero calories per hour" said another poster. Wrong!

A 2004 Harvard article said that a 185 pound person will burn 33 calories watching TV, 50 by reading, and 67 doing light office work. You can even burn 72 calories an hour by sitting in a meeting. I've been in plenty of terrible meetings; I probably burned a whole lot more just trying not to stab anyone.

Basically, if you can burn 50 calories by reading this column, plus several more, for an hour, you can burn many more by writing down all the reasons not to go to the gym.

Business quotes are even worse, because they're shared by people who don't seem to understand how business works.

"Great things never came from comfort zones!" declares one business quote. Really? So whoever invented mashed potatoes and feety pajamas was locked in a life-or-death struggle with their fax machine? Because those things are mighty comforting.

Author Kobi Yamada said, "Follow your dreams. They know the way." And then he floated away on a magical balloon to a land made of candy and the laughter of children.

We entrepreneurs like to say we follow our passion or live our dreams, or some nonsense. But the stark reality is, following your dreams can be a 14-hour-a-day grind, and you would give your competition's right eye for some sleep.

People who think business success is achieved only by believing in themselves are in for a big surprise when their bank won't let them pay their mortgage with a pocket full of dreams.

Speaking of beliefs, Wayne Dyer oversimplified success when he said, "Believe. It's as simple as that."

I want to lick the back of my own neck, but simply believing ain't gonna make it so.

I understand the need for exercising and eating healthy, and I appreciate the people who wholly throw themselves into that lifestyle, forsaking all art, literature, and music. But Michael Jordan quotes won't make me go out for a jog any more than Ernest Hemingway quotes will make them pick up a book.

The only thing that's going to make me go out for a run is if a zombie is behind me, and even then, I'm only running as far as my truck.

I realize motivational quotes have to be positive, because they remind us to dream big. Still, I'd like to see something more realistic than Les Brown's quote, "Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

Although I have to admit, it sounds a lot better than "Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you'll die."

Photo credit: U.S. Food & Drug Administration (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

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