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Motivate With Care
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
A few weeks ago, I had to attend a meeting at work. The hideous hour of 6 a.m. didn't help any, nor did the free breakfast which was provided. Because of some digestive problems, I've been starting off my day with fruit, or perhaps some apples and cinnamon oatmeal. Stuffing eggs or bacon (which I love) into my mouth first thing isn't working any more. Sometimes, I don't eat anything at all, because nothing sounds good. So I showed up for the meeting (I can't remember anything that was said) and suffered through a video that was supposed to be motivating, but thanks to my ever-questioning nature, was saying to myself, “WTF?”
Our fearless leader never told us where the clip came from, but thanks to one of my students, found out it was from a film called Facing the Giants. The film sounds like it blends God, Jesus, and football together in a combination I've never quite understood. Does God really give a crap about football?
Anyway, the clip that was shown to us was a high school football player player forced to crawl to the end zone (from the 50 yard line, I think) with a 140 pound guy on his back. The coach gets down and yells and screams at him the whole way. The kid finally makes it. After a brief spiel from the coach to the kid about how he needs him to be a leader for the team, the kid the player was carrying speaks up and clarifies that he actually weighs 160 pounds. This got a few laughs from the assembled crowd, but the scene really didn't move me at all. It's not that I don't have any feelings, but emotionally, the scene didn't grab me. I couldn't give two shits about football. I know it gives men hard-ons, but since I don't have a penis, the scene didn't do anything for me. Now, when Katniss volunteers for Prim during the reaping scene in The Hunger Games, I choke up big time. Why? Because Katniss knows she may die during the games, whereas that football player just ended up with a face full of the coach's spittle from his rant, and a few sore muscles. Of course, in The Hunger Games, there is the broader implication of a government forcing kids to play a game where all but one will be killed, and the unfairness of it all, but we all knew that football clip was not about rebelling against The Man, but never giving up when it comes to ridiculous demands from a coach, or boss.
Not surprisingly, when the football player made it to the line, there were no thanks, no containers of Gatorade dumped over his head, no water bottles passed. Just the coach walking away. Pretty much how it in in real life. Kill yourself for the cause! You can do it! YOU CAN DO IT! And as you collapse (from an aneurysm or a heart attack) you'd better have a cell phone on you, so you can call someone who cares. Perhaps they will arrive in time to revive you for the next thankless ordeal.
I also questioned the wisdom of showing a football-related clip to a meeting where about half the attendees were women. There are women out there who like football, but I don't know of any sport women participate in where they have to crawl with teammates on their backs as a conditioning exercise, or to prove a point. Women have had to carry heavy loads, both literally and figuratively, but showing a kid crawling with another kid on his back would have most women yelling, “get off your damn back and walk, you able-bodied, lazy jackass!”
And I think that's why motivational speakers or programs need to be chosen wisely by the powers that be. And so frequently, they aren't. I think too many “motivators” don't concentrate on the hard parts or challenges they faced on the road to whatever they happen to be. They mention them, but they don't really get into the pain and suffering of it, because of course, that doesn't sell. What does sell is the hope that you too can work through whatever you're facing and triumph. I'm way more interested in how the person got through the situation.
I have to admit though, while watching the death crawl clip, my perverse mind was at work. I couldn't help but think the whole scene smacked of S and M: you've got two males wearing uniforms, one on top of the other, a blindfold, and another man yelling his head off, implying that if the kid gives up, he'll be branded a pus… er vagina, in front of other males who would possibly beat him up in the locker room if he failed this particular “test.” Too bad the kid didn't have a safe word.