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The 7 Worst Motivational Quotes On Pinterest

Delivering motivational quotesAfter having a good old rant in my lost post 5 Easy Ways TO Piss Of A Life Coach, I thought I’d carry on the ranting theme for just one more post seeing as I’m on a roll.

I regularly post motivational quotes to my Facebook page, and unless it’s not immediately apparent I will sometimes also explain what I think makes that quote so cool.

Of course for the large part motivational quotes are subjective. What may have one person pumped and ready for action may go straight over the head of the next.

A number of the quotes I use come from Pinterest and it really is an amazing resource for this kind of thing.

Unfortunately it’s also an amazing opportunity for anybody who fancies themselves as a budding Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde to create and then post their quotes for all the world to see.

I say unfortunately, because some of them are more poorly thought through than Mitt Romney’s decision to point out the US Navy has less battleships now than in 1916 during the Presidential debate.

So let’s take a look at 7 of the worst that I stumbled on this morning whilst sipping my coffee.

Please feel free to disagree with me, because as I said, this stuff is highly subjective.

And by the way after minutes of hard work I have developed my very own bollocks-o-meter (pat pending). The bollocks-o-meter is a highly scientific tool designed to sniff out crap quotes.

The bollocks-o-meter runs from 0 – not all all bollocks, in fact very, very good, take this on board. To 10 – total and utter bollocks, please avert your eyes or risk losing your sanity!

motivational quote1. The Old Follow Your Dreams Myth

I used to believe this, until that as I started to see a steady stream of clients who had adopted this kind of thinking and things hadn’t gone according to plan.

In fact in some cases things had gone horribly wrong.

What if you have a dream of being an astronaut, but you’re 300lbs, have a history of health issues and you recently lost at chess to a goat?

It’s probably not going to happen and it would be far wiser to focus your attention elsewhere.

Having big dreams is super cool, but there has to be at least a miniscule chance of them coming to fruition if you’re not going to make yourself frustrated and unhappy.

Bollocks-o-meter rating – 7

Emotions and feelings2. Decisions, Decisions

Who could possibly disagree with this nugget of wisdom?

Well rather unsurprisingly, me!

It has some merit in in it until you realize all feelings are temporary.

And to drive the stake through the heart of this sucker, nothing is permanent.

I do get the gist and it’s not wise making long-term decisions whilst experiencing highly negative or even highly positive emotions.

However, in and of itself it’s a poor quote and deserves a damn good thrashing.

Bollocks-o-meter rating - 8

nobody is broken3. Nobody Is Broken

To suggest everybody is broken and thus needs fixing is abhorrent to me.

I am somewhat biased against this because there is an NLP presupposition that suggests “nobody is broken” and it’s one I subscribe to.

This quote almost (and I do mean almost because this is how I view it, not necessarily how it is) contains a presupposition that the answers are ‘out there’ rather than in us.

Not only that, but how hard do you think it is to change for somebody who thinks they are broken compared to somebody who just wants to work more effectively?

Exponentially is the answer.

Bollocks-o-meter rating - 7

beliefs4. The Beliefs Myth

I wanted to include a Wayne Dyer quote that says “Believe – it’s as simple as that” that I saw the other day, but couldn’t find it.

No it’s not Wayne, stop being so silly.

Beliefs are awesome and mind-blowingly powerful.

However, they are not enough on their own.

My wife has seen enough oncology patients who fervently believed they would beat their cancer and didn’t, and others who totally believed they were doomed and recovered.

Every X Factor and American Idol is chock full of talentless believers.

If I had $10 for every contestant who got knocked out and announced with total conviction “The world hasn’t seen the last of me” only for that to be the last thing the world ever sees from them, I’d have my own Caribbean Island.

Bollocks-o-meter rating - 9

don't give up5. Don’t Give Up!

On the surface this makes perfect sense, but think past the obvious.

Who would you make such a statement to?

Who would you tell to not give up on life?

Either somebody who is seriously depressed at best or potentially suicidal at worst.

You don’t need to say to most people, don’t give up on life, because they won’t.

People suffering from depression don’t think like people who aren’t, that’s why they’re depressed.

So advice that seems great and very well meaning on the surface, can be seen as trite and even insulting by the recipient.

Bollocks-o-meter rating - 6 with the potential to hit 10 if read by the wrong person

overthinking6. Don’t Think Too Much

Seriously, thinking too much leads to negative thoughts?

Has there been some scientific research on this that I’m totally unaware of?

Should we close down the scientific community starting with the field of positive psychology because those brainiacs are thinking all the time?

Should we tell philosophers that it’s time to call it a day?

Should we tell people who are happily planning their future and giving it a lot of thought to stop for fear of melancholy setting in?

I’ll tell you what leads to negative thoughts, negative thoughts.

We are all thinking 24 hours a day (albeit it mainly at an unconscious level), so that means by default if this were true we’d all be having entirely negative thoughts

Bollocks-o-meter rating – 9

forget reasonsIf It Won’t Work, It Won’t Work

WTF? Seriously?

This doesn’t even make sense. “Forget the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will” is totally contradictory.

If it won’t work, it won’t work and if it will work, it will work.

Shouldn’t that be at the very least “forget the reasons why it may not work”?

And even then, to ignore reasons why a project may fail is a tad irresponsible and what a lot of people do who are blindly following their dreams – see point #1

I get the drift of staying focused on something you believe in, but there is a big difference between being focused and developing myopia and ignoring things that may trip you up.

Quite honestly, I think this is anonymous because the person who said it sobered up and thought better than attaching their name to it

Bollocks-o-meter rating - 10

So what do you reckon? I feel sure that some people will disagree with me on some of the quotes and if that’s you, feel free to vent your spleen in the comments

I’d also love to hear any quotes that you have seen that have had you shaking your head in disbelief.

By the way if you sign up for my newsletter in the box below you get a full ebook on 50 great motivational quotes.



19 comments to The 7 Worst Motivational Quotes On Pinterest

  • I actually like #2. I agree that nothing is permanent, but sometimes the psychological damage is done, and the words cannot be retracted. I’m thinking (rather darkly) of young clients I’ve worked with who made an awful, impulsive decision (or a series of them) which lead to an expulsion order from school. Also, an adult who makes the decision to physically abuse their partner/spouse in front of the kids…I take this quote to mean a permanent state which can never be reversed. Perhaps that’s too heavy, but it’s my .02.

    Love your take on #5. It is insulting, and you’re right–probably intended for someone who’s depressed, and not thinking in a healthy state.

    And #4–I am laughing my fucking ass off (another dumb quote). You may have your own Caribbean island, but as a former dancer who witnessed this type of thinking throughout my 20s–I’d be kicking Richard Branson off of his. It’s so sad, so pathetic, and utterly lacking in self-awareness and reality testing.

    Thanks for the snarky Saturday treat :). B/c remember, “You only live once.”

    • It’s not the thought process behind it with #2 that makes it a crap quote, just the way it’s delivered imho.

      I agree, that the concept is sound, just poorly executed imho.

  • The majority of your assessments seem be to correct. I have trouble with #4 and the examples you gave regarding harmful beliefs, even though your premise is correct. I don’t really see the harm in a cancer patient believing they will beat the disease. Although, your wife has witnessed cancer patients who believed they would beat the disease die and those who were pessimistic survive, I doubt if you took a scientific sample that would be the case.

    As far as talentless singers, they would seem to have either selective thinking and/or are surrounded by people who will not tell them the truth. Either way, it’s more then just individual beliefs, they’re also surround by family and friends who confirm the fantasy of them having talent. If he or she had truth tellers around them, the beliefs would more than likely change.

    • I never said believing you would survive is a harmful belief, in fact I never said beliefs were harmful at all, although some cane be.

      There is no research that I know of and I have asked a lot of people to support your belief around a scientific sample.

      Having said that, I happen to think you’re right. I wasn’t saying don’t believe, I was saying don’t rely entirely on belief.

      And as for your latter point, it really isn’t the simple because beliefs can tend to strengthen in the face of contrary evidence. It’s a cognitive bias called ‘the backfire effect’.

  • Tom, you’re a person after my own heart! Allow me to quote from a post I wrote a while back called ‘Can Turtles Fly?”:
    In this particular episode of the show (So You Think You Can Dance?), one of the contestants who clearly had two left feet, was naturally rejected. As he left, he said, “I’ll be back next year and beat the pants off everyone!” And I thought to myself, “The guy has no rhythm, no sense of timing and yet he’s aspiring to take part in and win a dance competition. Is that called being positive or is it plain stupidity?”

    Sadly I lost the comments when I moved over to WP. However, most people thought I was being negative and that everyone can be and do whatever they want to be! My point is, find out what you are really good at and go after it with all your heart. Be the best turtle you can be – but don’t be a turtle trying to be a bird! Sometimes I think there’s too much of feel good philosophy running around – and too little of real wisdom. And then I find blogs like yours and breathe a little easier! :)

  • Pretty good take on these quotes…sometimes I think people just throw shit to see what sticks (apparently I am right, from these quotes you found).

    #4 stood out to me the most and I totally agree. I see people all the time who pray or believe that something great is going to happen for them. Unfortunately all they do is pray…they take no action. You cannot acccomplish anything without action…but if you have belief+action, then you will probably accomplish some pretty amazing things.

  • This post reminded me of a blog rant I went on a while ago about the “Live out loud” garbage I’m also seeing plastered all over the web (in the form of quotes and other trite “rules to live by” themes). You’re a rare breed of coach who doesn’t leverage this tripe to make money. Seriously.

    I spread this post around. Your bollocks-o-meter made me very happy.
    Rock on.

  • I loved this post- I laughed out loud, always a good thing! I do disagree with your position on #6. I actually have a version of this posted where I can see it everyday and it helps me. I think it isn’t referring to “thinking” as much as the obsessive sort of over-analyzing some of us are woefully prone to. I enjoy being just slightly out of my comfort zone and being challenged so I live my life is a way that affords me those types of opportunities. But I tend to indulge in the kind of hyper vigilant thinking that makes me run everything out to pretty much every possible outcome, negative and positive. I have to know when to say “enough!!!” and just forge ahead. Things have a way of working out because I do exercise reasonably good judgment and I have skill. So- for those of use who do kind of just expect the worse possible scenario to appear and ruin everything thinking too much is a trap. I say consider wisely, plan well, and go. Which makes “leap and the net will appear” another of my favorite quotes.

    • And therein lies the problem Kelly. You are having to explain to me what you *think* the author meant. That in and of itself renders it a poor quote imho.

      I’m not saying there isn’t some value in it for some people, I’m saying as a generalization it’s also wrong for a lot of people a lot of the time.

      A better quote (but still not totally accurate) would have been “obsessive thinking leads to negative thoughts’

      • An interesting question that crossed my mind on reading this is, what is a negative thought?

        I think most of us would agree that repetitive thinking about something terrifying but unlikely is a negative thought. And it’s probably useful to avoid this.

        But what about (for example) thinking of realistic potential obstacles to a goal and then coming up with useful strategies to counteract those obstacles? On the one hand, we’re thinking about something “negative”, but on the other hand, we’re making plans to achieve forward progress even in the face of those obstacles.

        (This strategy, even though it might be superficially considered “negative thinking”, is quite useful in my view.)

        Conversely, deliberately avoiding thinking about obstacles and barriers to achieving our goals, because “those are negative thoughts” (oh no!) seems like naive denial.

  • I think something you’re getting at with these is our hunger for sentimentality.

    Why do we eagerly create (and repost) pinboard after pinboard of trite but pretty images of “motivational” quotes? Because we wish life were as easy, as pretty, and as quickly accomplished as a nice pinboard pin. Or Facebook post, etc. That’s just sentimentality — a sort of mushy, emotional wishful thinking. Like a candy bar, it can be pleasant enough, if it’s not doing outright damage. I think you’ve just pointed out some of the ways some of these can be damaging.

    I’m guilty of loving/posting these too. So — thanks for an insightful post that has served as a gentle, funny, and powerful reminder of the truth.

  • #2 is wrong.
    The “equivalent” that makes a lot of sense

    Don’t take any decisions when you are Angry. Don’t make any promises when you are Happy. – Unknown

  • Your bollocks-o-meter is right on, Tim. Why,even positive thinking may not always work in certain tricky situations. I am a fan of affirmations, but only if they sync with my own values.

    By the way, I am totally tickled to read the first line of your post “After having a good old rant in my lost post” and wondered, with your cool sense of humor, whether the “lost” was intentional.