Tag Archives: motivation

We’re not all that different from our bleating brethren 

petting a lambPeople are sheep.

That’s probably not the most groundbreaking of observations, but it’s a tough one to argue.

Despite our advanced critical-thinking skills (which unfortunately aren’t displayed in our political institutions), humans are like animals when it comes to following the herd.

Instead of engaging in self-reliance, we’ll seek out a shepherd.

Instead of employing our free will, we’ll join up with a flock.

We’ll gladly pursue the ideals of rugged individualism – but only as long as everyone else is, too.

As humans, we crave a sense of community. Community is healthy, but conformity is not. As individuals, our colors shine brightly, and if we were to let our individual lights shine, together we would make up a collage of color.

When it comes to our proclivity for conformity, at least some humans are self-aware. They know that our tendency is to follow, so they use their art to urge others to think for themselves.

George Orwell, for example, wrote an entire book likening human behavior to barnyard animals. Pink Floyd recorded a compilation of soundscapes to make the same point.

Even the Berenstain Bears got in on the action one time, with Farmer Ben advising Brother Bear that joining Too-Tall’s gang would make him just another sheep following the herd.

And if that isn’t enough evidence that humans (and apparently some bears) behave like sheep, then I’m not sure what is.

Although I do have personal experience.

A story I like to tell took place when I was about 10 or 11. My family and I were driving around Lake Tahoe, looking for a nice place to pull over and have a picnic.

Ahead, we spotted a snug little turnout shielded by trees and surrounded by thick manzanita. Not a soul was in sight.

We pulled over and carried our belongings to a cluster of nearby boulders. The rocks worked great for sitting and spreading our food.

Within 10 minutes, eight cars had joined ours in the turnout. People were wandering around with confused looks on their faces. It was like a George Romero film — except far more outrageous and terrifying.

One guy, a typical yuppie wearing brown shorts and matching loafers with no socks, approached our picnic area. (I’ve never understood the yuppie male’s aversion to socks, but apparently, their dress code prohibits them.)

The man’s face was red, and his nostrils were noticeably flared.

“There’s nothing here!” he blustered, spreading his arms wide and glaring at us.

I remember us just staring at him, blinking. I don’t think anyone could quite believe what they were witnessing, and none of us knew how to react.

This guy, like all the other open-mouthed, Romero zombies who were now invading our picnic, had seen our car pulled over and figured there has to be something worthwhile to stop and look at. It was the typical sheep mentality: Run to where the flock is without pausing to ask why.

It took a while, but most of the cars eventually sped away in disgust. Only a few other people stayed to have picnics of their own, prompting us to take our leave.

I’ll never forget that day or that particular guy. It made a big impression, and I gained some insight into human nature.

And it made me realize that, unfortunately, we still have a lot of evolving to do to become truly distinct from our bleating brethren.

This time, we’ll get it right

Bob Seger Roll Me Away quotePretty much every Bob Seger song is him reminiscing about his youth.

That’s not to knock Bob Seger. I’m a huge fan. But if you listen to his lyrics, you start to notice a pattern.

“Night Moves.” “Like a Rock.” “Main Street.” “Against the Wind.” Each song is about an older man looking back on his youthful self.

Seger’s all about nostalgia. That’s his thing.

And I suppose I’m a fan because nostalgia is my thing, too.

I think all of us reminisce about the past to some degree. We think back to bygone days – to roads not taken, missed opportunities, relationships never pursued.

It’s only natural to daydream about what could have been – to ponder what never was.

In a lifetime composed of divergent paths, we can’t help but muse about routes not traveled.

But at what point does nostalgia transform to living in the past? When does innocent remembrance turn into wistful reminiscence?

If I’m honest with myself, my glory days weren’t that glorious. That’s not to say they were unpleasant, but I don’t look back on them with sepia-colored lenses and bask in my youthful exuberance.

They were a time in my life that’s passed. They helped forge me into who I am, but I can’t go back to relive them.

Nor would I want to. I don’t want to be like Napoleon Dynamite’s uncle, buying a mail-order time machine to get back to 1982. (Quick aside: If you ever do buy a time machine, make sure it has at least a two-year warranty. And make sure you don’t travel more than two years into the future, because that will void the warranty. Trust me; I’ve thought this one through.)

Yet I have a definite penchant for the past. I love looking at photos and home movies. I often think back to 10 years before, wishing I could relive certain moments and do-over others.

But reminiscence can quickly take over your life. And every moment you spend reflecting on the past is a moment you’re missing in the present.

Now more than ever, I’m dedicated to embracing the present.

Instead of lamenting missed opportunities, I’m looking forward to new ones.

Rather than pondering what could have been, I’m dreaming more about what could be.

Instead of gazing backward, I’ll set my focus on the horizon.

It’s easier to grieve for the past than it is to live for the moment. Grieving for what never was gives you an excuse not to change what is.

Embracing the here and now means taking responsibility for your life – and that’s scary. There are so many options and innumerable ways to fail.

But the past isn’t coming back. And that’s OK. We don’t need to go back in time to turn it all around. Second chances aren’t exclusive to 1982.

We have this moment, today, to make our lives what we want. We can choose our own destinies. We can blaze our own trails.

Interestingly, my favorite Bob Seger song is “Roll Me Away.”

And unlike his other tunes, it has nothing to do with reminiscing about the past.

Instead, it’s all about embracing the now.

It’s about a guy who climbs on his motorcycle one day and takes off for adventures unknown.

He cherishes the moment. He savors life.

I can’t think of a better anthem to embody my newfound penchant for the present.

And like Seger says in the song: “This time, we’ll get it right.”

I still don’t have a clearly defined dream

Gravel pathwayEver since childhood, I had a vague notion that I wanted to be a writer.

I carried the idea with me through college. And although I was always writing short stories and even novels, I never gave much thought to how to develop my dream.

I think I just assumed that I’d become a novelist, or a newspaper columnist, or maybe an advertising copywriter. Some opportunity would magically manifest right when I needed it, and I’d end up with a high-paying and personally rewarding career.

Not surprisingly, that didn’t happen.

My lack of focus was frustrating in college. It seemed like everyone else was preparing for a dream career, while I was just writing funny stories and hoping for the best.

I always worked hard and performed well academically, but I never had a clear vision of the future – of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be.

I think I hoped that when I got older, all the cards would simply fall into place. One day, I’d wake up with a clear idea of what to do with my life.

Not surprisingly, that hasn’t happened, either.

I’m in my thirties, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. My vision of the future is as fuzzy now as it was when I was a kid.

My goals are unfocused. My ambitions are murky. Looking toward the future is like peering through the bottom of a Coke bottle.

I know a couple of things, though. I know that I like to write, and I know that I like to make people laugh.

And … well, that’s sort of it.

That’s not a clearly defined objective; that’s a muddy quagmire.

What do I do with that?

Going through life, we all watch people succeed. Some get promotions. Others get book deals. Some figure out exactly what they want to do, and then they go out and do it.

I’ve always admired those people. They have determination, drive – focus. They got it together. They know exactly what they want.

And I’ve always lamented that I’m not like them. I don’t have that pristine vision – that clarity of thought.

I have no idea what I want or how to achieve it.

At least that’s what I’ve always thought. But now I’m not so sure.

Maybe you don’t need a clearly defined goal to be happy, or to succeed. Maybe the desire to succeed is enough.

That and the determination to actually try.

If you want something in life, you have to start somewhere. You have to choose a road, even if you don’t know where it leads.

That’s the beauty of life. There are so many options. It’s not just a linear path. It’s a labyrinth of corridors that branch off in all sorts of directions.

And oftentimes, where you end up is better than what you ever could have imagined.

So yes, my objectives are still vague. I like to write, and I like to make people laugh.

And for now, maybe that’s enough. You have to start somewhere. You have to take the first step.

If I pursue that goal — as obscure and vague as it is — I don’t have to have a clearly formed vision of the outcome. I just have to have a desire to succeed.

So I’m going to keep writing. It’s a step. It’s a start.

And brick by brick, it’s going to help pave my path to a successful future.

That much, at least, is clear.

Motivational speaker relies on ‘feel-good fluff’ to inspire corporate audiences 

“Life is completely meaningless — especially if you’re a corporate drone,” says motivational speaker Iggy “The Eye-Opener” Davidson. “My job is to help people come to terms with how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. I like to use the old water-drop-in-a-bucket analogy. If they were to quit, retire or fall into an irreversible coma and slip into death, it wouldn’t make one iota of difference to their company. Someone would simply come in to replace them. It’s a message I firmly believe in, and I promote it with the goal of inspiring office-dwellers everywhere.”

“Life is completely meaningless — especially if you’re a corporate drone,” says motivational speaker Iggy “The Eye-Opener” Davidson. “My job is to help people come to terms with how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. If they were to quit, retire or fall into an irreversible coma and slip into death, it wouldn’t make one iota of difference to their company. Someone else would come along to replace them. It’s a message I share with all my audiences, and my hope is that they walk away inspired.”

Iggy “The Eye-Opener” Davidson, a motivational speaker living in Las Vegas, said Monday that his unique blend of vague and meaningless advice has helped him win the hearts and trust of cubicle-dwellers across the country.

Davidson, who often speaks at corporate events and is also the author of two bestselling books, said when it comes to problem-solving and self-improvement, audiences want “feel-good fluff”  rather than specific solutions.

“A solution often requires hard work, and hard work isn’t going to motivate anybody,” he said. “So I just tell people to think positively and to visualize goals. You know, useless crap like that.

“That way, they can feel a sense of triumph as they return to their bland lives and run-of-the-mill careers,” he added.

Davidson said most of his business comes from corporate speaking engagements, where executive managers count on him to “breathe life into disgruntled, burned-out employees.”

“Let’s face it: Most corporate employees are nothing more than cogs in a machine,” Davidson said. “They make dismal wages and lead pointless lives. My job is to make them feel empowered — to trick them into thinking they can rise above the tedious grind and accomplish great things.

“They can’t, of course, because they’re merely worker bees,” he added. “But if they feel good, even for a short while, they’re less likely to whine and complain and piss off their managers. After all, employees oblivious to their plight tend to be happier.”

Davidson said audiences typically respond with enthusiasm to the bland, motivational gibberish he peddles.

“They want to believe there’s more to life than a 9-to-5 schedule and a cramped cubicle,” he said. “And there is — but only for the CEO and the corporate officers. Those guys are entitled to high salaries and enviable stock options, for sure. But for the minions who hold it all together, all life has to offer is the guarantee of eventual death. And in their case, death is something they should be looking forward to, because it’s the only relief they’ll have.”

Davidson said his advice is general enough to sound genuine, and vague enough so that audiences will forget about it and not hold him responsible when it doesn’t work.

“My job is to instill them with inspiration and euphoria,” Davidson said. “They get all excited and start waving their arms around, like little kids at a school assembly. Some even cry. But once they return to the tedious humdrum of their hamster-wheel existence, they quickly forget everything I said.

“They forgetting part is key,” he added. “If I were to dispense specific, concrete methods for self-improvement, people might actually try them. But the problem is that once you’re a corporate drone, you’re always going to be a corporate drone. No amount of self-improvement or positive thinking is going to change that. And I don’t want people to blame me for their pathetic lives and meaningless careers. It’s not my fault they weren’t born into upper-crust, white-collar families. That’s on them.”

Davidson said he considers himself a showman who provides temporary relief to the unremarkable masses.

“I make people feel good — that’s all it is, really,” he said. “I’m no different than a musician, a magician, a juggler. And I’m not offering false hope. Deep down, most people know they’re average and unexceptional. And when I ask them visualize goals, they don’t have any.

“But,” he added, “for a brief moment, they feel totally empowered, like they can accomplish great things. They’re never going to, obviously, but it’s that feeling of exultation they’re looking for — something that makes sense of all the memos and meetings.”

Davidson said he considers himself more of an entertainer than he does a wisdom-giving icon.

“It’s all show,” he said. “I’m just an ordinary guy. But unlike most people, I found a profitable way to escape the soul-crushing drain of corporate servitude. That’s what makes me different: I escaped. More power to me, right?

“Heck, my middle name isn’t even ‘The Eye-Opener,’” he added. “It’s Wayne.”