What motivational speakers don’t tell you

Nowadays, it seems like nearly everyone on social media is a motivational speaker. However, Instagram quote posts and professional speakers alike often spread misunderstandings and clichés that just don’t hold up under scrutiny.

When faced with motivational jargon, there is only one simple question you need to ask yourself: Is it true? 

Common myths

First, let’s bust some of the most common and clichéd motivational quotes out there;

  1. “Never give up.”

While the traits of perseverance and determination are valiant and valuable, there are sometimes points in life when quitting is the best option. Many people fear the word quit and associate it with failure. However, failure is something everybody experiences, and it’s not always a bad thing. Knowing when to cut your losses is a mature skill that people often overlook. If, for example, you’re a fledgling entrepreneur trying to make it big, think about whether the process itself — the work you’re doing in pursuit of your goal — is fulfilling in its own right. If the answer is no, then you should reconsider your direction. If your journey is miserable, the destination isn’t always worth it. There are many more avenues and options for you to explore which could bring you equal amounts of success and happiness.

  1. “You are your only limit.”

Although many of the barriers we create for ourselves are in our minds, there can be legitimate barriers that are outwith our immediate control, such as institutionalized racism, sexism, misogyny or financial constraints, to name but a few. Whilst we as a society work to rid the world of these barriers, give yourself some grace and remember that not everything is your fault so long as you are doing the best that you can.

  1. “If I can, so can you.”

Overcoming challenging circumstances isn’t always about talent, skill, or perseverance. While individual stories of people who have conquered and overcome hardship can be inspiring, just because one person overcame something does not automatically mean that everyone else can do the same. In life, we rarely talk about the “losers.” Newspapers don’t report on trivialities, business leaders don’t often publicize product failures, and no one ever hears of all of the companies that went bankrupt in their first year. This phenomenon is called survivorship bias. We focus on what we can see (the winners) and ignore what we can’t see (the losers), and it can completely distort our ability to estimate the odds of success.

  1. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

All of us will most likely have encountered struggles and hardships at some points in our lives, and although you can take comfort from the fact you survived them, you don’t always need to find a silver lining. A study, which was a collaborative effort led by scientists at Brown University and the University of Concepción in central Chile, found that past stressful experiences do not create resilience to future trauma but that the opposite is true: Past stressors sensitize people to future traumas, increasing their chances of developing a mental health disorder.

  1. “What is meant for you won’t pass you by.”

Whilst the notion of fate is romantic, the truth is that in life, and indeed in business or your career, it is improbable that you will meet the high goals you set for yourself without a considerable amount of hard work and effort. To suggest that your dreams will be presented to you on a future silver platter, irrespective of your effort level, is to sell false hope.

Motivational speakers vs Coaches 

Just because a quote or speech is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s true (for you), and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to believe it. Many well-meaning motivational speakers say things that sound great but that, in reality, do not hold water. A motivational speaker may inspire and entertain; however, true motivation and actual change must come from within yourself.

A coach is different. Coaches have the skills and abilities to share life principles and truths that will inspire each individual person to look deep within themselves. Customized talent development programs for individuals and teams alike help realize personal and professional potential. Coaches usually refrain from giving advice and trying to solve their clients’ problems. Instead, they ask important questions to help the individual clarify and solve their own problems. A coach can facilitate development and challenge individuals in ways no motivational speaker could. Our coaches have executive experience themselves and can relate to each organization’s unique struggles and help take individuals to the next level. Coaching aims to provide recipients with practical, real-world techniques and skills allowing them to reach their full potential. 

We often need to be prompted or provoked to take action and achieve. But only when someone has experienced a change from within will that change be a lasting one for the better.


To entertain your audience, consider hiring a motivational speaker. They most probably won’t disappoint. However, if you want to generate authentic and genuine change and improvement which goes deeper than just surface level – use coaches. Get in touch with us to arrange your first coaching session now.


This article is written by:

Holly Thompson

Holly is a Chartered Accountant (CA) from Scotland with a background in external audit and prospects in forensic accounting. She also has experience in editorial and creative writing which she is putting to use during her time in Sweden. Look out for new blog posts, perfect for open and curiously minded individuals.

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