Some of the biggest critiques of motivational content is that it is “cheesy”, “oversimplified”, “repetitive”, or sometimes even “a scam”. I agree – or at least it can be…
I think this topic is interesting for many reasons. The first being that I consider myself a motivational content creator. Whether through my weekly articles, my films, or my social media influence, I have built ZULUECHO Initiative by using content to spread messages of motivation, positivity, growth, and a development of the idea that following your passion in life is extremely important. Super cheesy, I know. Another reason it’s interesting to me is that I think there is much more to it. It’s not a question of cheesy or not, but rather a connotation of “cheesy” – a lens or an approach through which society has chosen to understand such content.
The reasons for this are many. One reason is that motivational content tends to be dramatic, almost cinematic at some level which gives it the effect of being “fake”. Another is that it is often what I like to call “blind” motivation – lacking any sense of process and understanding that being positive does not mean that negative things don’t happen. This is a crucial part of how we consume this type of content. Understanding it less as motivational content, and more as educational content. Another rather disappointing part of this equation is the notion that when we say something like “go follow your dreams” we don’t take it seriously. We don’t comprehend the value of such a concept because it promises some form of perfection. We use the phrase as a band-aid to cover up the fact that perhaps the path we are on at the moment is not one we want to be on, and we dismiss that by introducing some form of an “ideal” world in the form of “go follow your passion.” These elements added together make a problem that many of us have had to face, are facing, or will face at some point in our lives. How do we make the transition from observation to actual action? How many YouTube motivation videos does one have to watch to finally “get what they needed.” How many inspirational Instagram quote pages do we have to follow in order to actually start to follow our passion? Yes – I know I am also one of those pages/people, and that’s why I’m asking. Ask yourself, why do you follow my content? Because the truth is, if you can’t get yourself to do something, nobody can get you to do it for you. Motivation comes from inside, not from outside. But then if motivation comes from inside, what comes from outside?
Perspective, experience, inspiration, and awe come from outside. These are things that come when you go beyond consuming “motivational content” and you start actually asking real questions about things that pertain to the life you want. It’s the step after hearing that inspirational speech. The reaction to video. That’s when you have to go inside and capitalize on your inner motivation. Every inspirational content creator is not sharing with you scientific fact per se, they are sharing their perspective, their wisdom, and their experience. What you do with that is up to you. It’s a constant learning process – taking information in, reflecting on it, catalyzing a change in yourself, and then putting it back out into the world in the form of something you’ve been wanting to do. Being motivated about nothing is a waste of time. Having something to be motivated about, however, that’s a different story.
This is where the perception of what is “cheesy” comes in. Somebody who is not motivated about the topic in question, will call it “cheesy”. Somebody who has something to be motivated about, however, now that is one of the most beautiful phenomenons that life can give us. That’s the moment where we flourish as individuals, sharing with the world a bit of what makes us unique, adding to our global experience in some way. The issue is when we let other people decide for us what or what not to be motivated about. That’s when it starts to come from outside, and not from inside. I had a conversation with somebody the other day who posted an Instagram story about how happy they were to be finally doing something that they loved in University. They mentioned something aspiration, along the lines of “be sure to follow what your heart tells you”. I responded to the story and congratulated them on reaching that point. Their response surprised me. They said “you’d be surprised how many people said I was so corny…” This truly bothered me, and its the reason I chose to write this article.
Nobody will feel your motivation for you. Therefore, nobody will understand your joy for you either – and that is a concept that we as a society need to accept. It’s okay to find your own definition of happiness. It’s okay to follow a dream because that dream keeps you hopeful. It’s okay to allow yourself to fall in love with what may seem to others as “unrealistic.” It’s okay… I promise. When you allow these things to be true, it liberates your thoughts. It validates that deep desire inside you to follow that passion that excites you like nothing else. This notion of “cheesy” actually becomes the thing that makes you you.
So next time you share with the world a bit of what keeps you motivated and they call it “cheesy”, just remember, that means you’re probably doing it right.