"Believe you can and you're halfway there." - Theodore Roosevelt
"The best view comes after the hardest climb."
"Don't worry if you're not where you want to be yet, great things take time."
"You are the artist of your life, don't hand the paintbrush to anyone else."
We all love a motivational message or an inspirational quote and social media makes it so easy to share these messages. They are a great way to engage with your audience as commenting "So true" (I'm guilty of that myself!) is quick and easy and we feel like we have participated in something without much effort.
For the more skeptical amongst us, these quotes are just a string of words and they may strike a chord with us and make us think but do they make us take action?
Do you read the quote "Don't worry if you're not where you want to be yet, great things take time." and think, "of course, it's ok, it's fine to me to hate my job for now, as it will take time to find exactly what I want"? "I'll just wait until it happens and be happy that I have a job and an income."
Is that the best way to approach a possible career change? Does the inspirational quote give you meaning and purpose or does it just validate your feelings and tell you it's ok to feel the way you do as so many other people feel this way? Should we not try and look beyond the quote and see that, yes it's true that things take time but we need to take action - we can't just think that good things will happen if we wait.
Let's look at it another way, the saying "Keep calm and carry on." was a phrase from a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public during the war. Not much hidden meaning, just to try and stay calm while bombs are going off around you and to carry on with life. Fair enough, I suppose there wasn't much else people could do when it was a constant around you. People living in a war zone don't stay at home cowering in fear. They go out into the streets, go to work and go to school, live their lives hoping that they will return home safely that day.
When I was in my twenties and working in the West End, it was during the IRA bombing era. Tubes were always delayed because of bomb threats and I remember, really clearly, going out for a lunch break and getting stuck on the wrong side of Oxford Street, because it had been cordoned off due to a bomb threat in the area. This was in the pre-mobile phone era, so I just waited for some time (over an hour if I remember correctly) until I was allowed across the road - I couldn't tell my work what had happened so I just arrived back very late. I remember feeling bored, irritated and slightly anxious about being late, but I know that I was not in the slightest bit worried that I might be injured in a bomb attack. It was normal part of our daily lives at the time and I just got on with it.
So "Keep Calm and Carry On" can be relevant in some situations and I do believe it is a motivational quote that can hold meaning for us. However, it's easy to say, keep calm, it's harder to actually be calm!
For example, I have a fear of flying, well a fear of turbulence when flying. So if I am on a very bumpy flight, being told to not worry, it's all fine, this statement is fairly unhelpful in the moment. Before I went on a Fear of Flying course, I used to try and calm myself by looking around the cabin and deciding whether the other passengers looked like they might die today... The nonchalant looks on most people's faces did calm me a bit but not much! What really helped was having a detailed explanation of what turbulence actually looks like - showing us how much more a tupperware full of water taped to the roof of mini travelling along the M25 moved around than on the wing of a plane during turbulence. The tupperware on the mini emptied in a few minutes, the water in the tupperware on the plane wing barely moved, despite passengers being moved around inside the plane!
Normalising things that frighten us can really help and this shows us just how powerful our us minds can be.
We expect something to happen so imagine that it is.
So what is my point??
These quotes can be very helpful for validation of our feelings and for those aha moments. They are also great reminders of what we want to achieve in our lives. But they are just a starting point for us - we need to use them to go deeper and discover what we really think/believe/want to achieve and also as a springboard for action.
Coaching is one way to do this. Start with your quote, potentially turn it into a goal and be given the space and time to explore what you are looking for or what you want to change and then setting in place some actions to get you to that place. It's practical, action based and transformative.
Try it. Take that first step and contact me for a free Chemistry call.
And as for the inspirational quote pandemic/endemic issue. Like Covid, it is definitely here to stay. We will continue to read these quotes, use them, make money from writing them as they have become part of our everyday lives. We just need to realise that they are purely inspirational and motivational - they should inspire you and motivate you to take that step.
Just reading them or posting them on social media is not enough!