I attended the day long Get Motivated semnar last week. The seminar was held in the Target Center, a sports arena in downtown Minneapolis, and the arena was packed. Standing room only. Honestly, I usually avoid these things because I’m not into large crowds of cheering people. My motivation was really due to the speakers that were. The producers of the event, Peter and Tamara Lowe, don’t mess around when it comes to who is going to be on their stage.
This is what their website has to say:
Only the BEST of the BEST appear on our stage! Speakers vary by
location and always include a Dream Team of respected success experts.
Current and former speakers have included: Former NYC Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani, Secretary of State General Colin Powell, Former First Lady
Barbara Bush, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Former World
Heavyweight Champion George Foreman, NFL Superstars Joe Montana, Peyton
Manning, Ladainian Tomlinson and coach Tony Dungy, Presidents Ronald
Reagan, George Bush, Entertainers Bill Cosby, Jerry Lewis, Goldie Hawn,
Motivational Expert Zig Ziglar, Legendary Microsoft President Rick
Belluzzo, Gold Medal Olympian Mary Lou Retton, Barbara Walters, and
Larry King just to name a few!
So, I sat in the audience and listened to what all these successful people had to say. The morning session consisted mostly of wealthy people selling their pre-packaged systems for success to a captive audience. They must have made a killing! The funny thing is, I went in there with the mindset that these people were all successful and I was there to learn how to be like them. Like everyone else in the audience, I was lapping up every word! It was after the lunch break that things sort of switched gears. These were the people that I had come to see, people you see in person once in a lifetime. I later realized that these were the people who were up there talking about success not because of their system, but because of themselves. Take Zig Ziglar as an example. There’s something so personable about Zig that you can’t help liking the guy. He’s living proof that integrity still works. And Gen. Colin Powell, what a powerhouse of a speaker! The man has seen so much of what has shaped our world today that he just opens his mouth and something insightful falls out. You may not agree with everything he says, but you can’t argue with the man.
Out of everyone who stood up that day, it was Bill Cosby who walked on stage and kicked me in the gut. That’s literally what it felt like. I wish that I could remember the wording he used, but I’ll have to paraphrase things a bit instead. When he walked on stage (after making a hilarious jab at the next speaker, Gen. Powell) he looked around and said, “I know why all of you are here.” He proceeded to tell us that we were down there (in our seats) because we wanted to learn how to be up here (on stage). His point was that we were the reason we were down there. We put ourselves in our seats just was we put them on stage. It was a decision that we had made ourselves.
It was at this point that I sat back and thought of all those people who had lined up earlier that day to buy someone else’s system. I thought of all those people who were frantically scribbling notes trying to get the entire seminar into their Franklin planner. I thought, “Did we all just miss the point?” I had a sort of sickly feeling crawl across my skin. It seemed that these “successful” people were there feeding on the desire of a bunch of little people who wanted a piece of that success for ourselves. One man that day came out and told us all that we were here for the wrong reasons, and I wonder how many people got it. If the majority of the audience had, I think there would have been an audible intake of breath when he stopped speaking. There wasn’t.
In retrospective, every person that stepped up on stage that day had important things to talk about. I thought that it would be Gen. Colin Powell who would have the biggest impact on me, but it was Bill Cosby. He stood there and told us that we were all going about things wrong, and no one wants to hear that. But I’m glad that he did. I think I needed that; the admonishment came at a time when I was receptive to it. I feel lucky about that. I guess it’s true that we don’t always get what we want, but if we are receptive enough, we get what we need.