Tried and Still True Motivational Wisdom

Great Wall of China Used as Motivational ExampleIn my opinion, one of the early motivational speakers, Seng Ts’an, the 3rd Chan (Zen) Patriarch, really had it going on when he reportedly claimed, “The Great Way is not difficult for those not attached to their preferences.”

When I find myself considering what he had to say, I usually laugh (and not in the funny ha-ha way) because by the time Seng Ts’an’s words of wisdom spring to mind, I’ve usually let myself become too attached to things working out the way that I want them to, when I want them to. Basically, I’m already too far into a trip to the dark side, with stress, frustration, anxiety, worry and fear as my unwelcome travel partners, to recite, let alone, adhere to, these words.

That is exactly what happened to me this morning. As I sat bleating about a fabulous business opportunity in Europe that wasn’t working out quite the way I wanted it to, my business partner Patrick asked of my being stressed “How’s that working for you?” To which I replied… well, I’m not going to tell you how I replied.

Not very proud of myself, I took a few deep breaths and then chuckled.  Being stressed really wasn’t working so well for me. As I moved back towards the light, I quickly ran through my tried and tested mantras that usually help me get into a better mood:

“Thy will be done.”

This, of course, was followed by another mantra that occasionally seeps in:

“Yeah, but how about thy will and my will being on the same page, just occasionally?”

Reminding myself that “We are the sum of our choices – we’re exactly who, what and where we choose to be in life” wasn’t working for me either.

Watching me struggle and listening to me whine, Patrick offered “Suck it up, Princess!” I didn’t know whether to laugh or to invite him to utilize his Krav Maga skills. And then I chuckled; after all, I guess I am the sum of my choices.

No one ever told me that life was going to be easy or fair. No promises were ever made to me that it’d always be just or that things would work out the way I want them to. What I have learned though, is that as long as I can get out of my own way, I will always have choices. The first choice being how I respond to whatever it is that life throws at me. Then, though I may still get hurt, and I may still get frustrated, at least I stop being a victim.

So I’m going to take Patrick’s advice and suck it up. Then I’m going to choose how to respond to everything that I can see that life’s throwing at me right now. And then I’m going to do what I can to take care of myself… and the people and things I care about.


Success simplified; lessons learned down a hippo's throat. Speaker, Author, Coach who will parachute in when traditional solutions won’t get it done.

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  1. Paul,
    You make a good point. Sometimes motivation can be as simple as “shut up and get busy”. Outside of some sweeping world events (think – being a Pole in September 1939), we are the ones responsible for where we are in life.

    • Yes indeed Bill… and as Viktor Frankl reminds us in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, even in the most unimaginable times of adversity (he shares with us his experiences surviving numerous concentration camps between 1942 and 1945), we still have the power of choice… choice as to how we respond to whatever it is that is going on in our lives.

  2. THANK YOU PAUL!!!! Everyone, regardless of whether they are a motivational speaker, a hairdress, a plumber or a parent, can benefit from this reminder. Very, very well said. I certainly can relate.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Paul. I love your business partner by the way, especially when he called you a princess! I am always inspired by motivational speakers who remind me that no matter what happens to me, I am in control of my reaction to it. And, when I remember that, it works out much better for me! No victim here baby! Thanks again for the reminder.

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