Why I Hate Motivational Quotes and Videos

By: Brian Carroll

I’ve always had a deep disdain for YouTube motivational videos, memes and anything that promotes a temporary false sense of motivation that doesn’t tend to have a lasting impression or push. I’m not saying all that you see that motivates people is bad. What I am saying is this: simply watching a YouTube video or reading a motivational meme, while naively believing this will create enough passion to carry you through tough times in life, training and relationships is delusional at best and in many cases could make you disillusioned.

I understand that everyone needs a pick-me up on occasion. Different people have things that hit home for them and some of these can be great for them but that’s obviously not why I detest them.

So why exactly do I hate them? When you’re out banging away at life, you won’t always have that stupid YouTube video or meme to spark a fire under your ass when you’re getting plowed in life, at home or on the platform. You don’t need something that will only help you for about 15 minutes until you forgot the catchy phase or some song ballad.

What you need is something better. Something that has tangible meaning. Something with balls.

With that said, in my experience I prefer different avenues of motivation like words of wisdom, encouragement and guidance from experience. Things like a proverb or wise words that promote success, wisdom and positivity that one might actually gain something out of and can put into practice to change the outlook or even their life direction.

In my experience this is likely to have a more lasting affect.
Name one person who went out and changed their life after reading a motivational meme. It doesn’t happen!

One thing that has really worked for me in the past as a lifter, but at times I would take it wrong, was when people would be trying to motivate me by getting in my ear to remind me that “you have things to accomplish and have not done much yet. You’ve not applied yourself in every facet of competition and preparation in the past and in many cases could have done better. You have a lot to do to get where you say you want to be in life and not stepping up will never let you see you reach your goals”.

This does sting at times. But the saying “sometimes the truth hurts” is often the case, as well as “a pat on the back can hurt you worse than a slap across the face”.

Some people, and specifically athletes, may not get this at times and it can potentially backfire. It has for me at times with friends, clients and athletes that I’ve coached. On the other hand, many times it’s made people step up to the plate for a whole training cycle and continued on to the meet where they hit their lifetime goal total. Generally, the great ones will step up to the plate and rise to the occasion and use everything to their advantage and not crumble when challenged.

A meme will never ever challenge you or call you out to the degree that a real coach or a true friend will.

What could be more motivating than being told to seize the moment, step up to the plate by being reminded that I could be better, can be better and will be better if I execute? The memes and videos won’t tell you the hard, painful and difficult things you actually need to hear which could change you from the inside out. Think of a “come to Jesus talk” or an epiphany.

What happens when that little extra bit of motivation you seek every training session from that certain 2Pac song isn’t available on competition day and they happen to be playing Journey instead? Or if you can’t watch your Kai Greene motivational video prior to taking a super heavy squat or at a meet without getting your fake goose bumps and temporary motivation to get under the bar.

You might find that you don’t have any true desire and passion to do what those memes tricked you into believing but it just seems cool and others would admire you. I say bullshit, you are trying to be someone that you are not just like many of the so called blue collar and narrow road types who some like to look up to on the internet, who portray a hard road that they took with sacrifice, determination and guts. Meanwhile they sold their souls in gay for pay, stripping, prostitution, hustling, drug dealing and never truly worked a real job in their life or even put in enough effort to try the hard road. They actually took the easy road in many cases while their spouse, kids, family and lifestyle suffered for it.
Is this really who would motivate you to be the best version of you that you could be?

Not me. Fuck that.

Are those the type of people, the words and the meme of characters whose footsteps you want to follow in? Or do you want real and lasting motivation?

Look back on things you didn’t execute on, things you can get better at each day and envision yourself in the place you want to end up. Having obstacles along the way should motivate you, not deter you from your goals.
True champions want to earn their stripes and want nothing coddled, babied or given to them.

Have someone keep you accountable, remind you how much you have underachieved at times, how much better you can be and will be if you apply yourself. This is not the motivation you need, but the encouragement you need as well.

Surround yourself with the people that are like-minded, that tell you how it is but that are positive and at the same time, not afraid to call you on your shit and kick you in the ass.

Put that shit in your fitness MEME.


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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.
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