Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Late last week, I was asked, “Are you a motivational speaker?”  I didn’t even hesitate when I answered, “I hope not.”


Please, do not misunderstand me; I have listened to some amazing motivational speakers.  I have had chills as they energized me to run from the room and hurry to go accomplish my goals.  I have wanted to set the world on fire as they predicted I could.  On my first business cards, it states “motivational speaker and author”.  Yet, just as life changes around us, I evolve, too.  When I speak, I no longer strive to set your world on fire and make you want to run from the room to sell the next 10,000 pieces of your product, make you stop your bad habits or set fire to your world.

Rather, I want to offer you seeds.  As I reach a greater audience, I have realized I want to provide more than a quick touch of motivation and magic.  When I am invited to speak to your large group, your classroom or a small dinner setting, I have three goals I set out to achieve.  I want to: 1) Make you laugh at the silliness and entertainment life can offer. 2) Make you cry with the acute realization life can and will deliver powerful setbacks that will take a lot of work and determination to overcome.  3) Make you think about the lessons I have offered for years to come.  I want to plant a seed for you to carry forever.

Everyone is at a different stage in life.  This is what offers the harmony and balance as we meet new people.  This is what gives us the love and compatibility as we grow our closest friendships.  You might not be there yet, but someday you will touch on a lot of experiences I recount.  Whether you have never been there or you are no longer facing similar adversity, I want to provide you with a seed of knowledge I have gained from my own life trials.  I want to plant this seed in you leaving a pathway directing tragedy to grow into triumph when we use optimism to conquer obstacles.  I want to offer you not motivation for the moment but lessons that somewhere, someday, will be remembered throughout your lifetime.

Maybe, rather than the classification of motivational speaker, I should begin a new category of a “seed planting speaker”.  I have learned my true desire is not so much that I want to offer you motivation; rather, I hope to leave you thinking while I plant seeds that can help offer you strength and hope in the weeks and years ahead.

Comments on: "Me a Motivational Speaker? I Hope Not" (8)

  1. I really enjoyed your story of your growth as a speaker. I am beginning a public speaking presence and I love the idea of planting seeds as a goal. I too have an aversion to the idea of firing everyone up to blast out of the room and change the world. I remember being a guest in a colleague’s psychology class and giving a talk about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Two years later, one of my writing students came to office hours to tell me that she’d been present at that talk and it had taken her two years but that she realized she had PTSD. She signed up for my class in order to learn to use writing to heal herself. Talk about seeds! Yes! They take time to grow, but when they do, they are exciting to behold.

  2. Reblogged this on Ardentmeld's Blog and commented:
    Very well written, optimism is a great seed to plant….

  3. Beautiful, Tara.
    You are the “Johnny Appleseed” of speakers.
    You remember, John Chapman went around in the 17th into 18th century planting apple seeds wherever he went. He would most likely never see the result of his labors, but that didn’t matter. He was planting seeds for the future, and that was his affair. What came of them — belongs to others.

  4. It’s really nice that you’ve taken the hard work to help those out there
    who are seeking out resources on this subject. Your serious
    dedication to getting the solution out there looks to be amazingly
    helpful and has enabled students much like me to reach
    their desires. Your amazing help and advice
    will mean much to me and much more to my peers.

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