Category: Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation: “Just Keep Movin’.”

OK, so this post is not about a speech or presentation. Nor is it about a Cycle class. But this video is so delightful and inspiring that I was moved to share it here.

Besides, this Monday Motivation is about movement. That’s close enough, is it not?

Courtesy The White House

Virginia McLaurin, at 106 years young, fulfilled a dream–to be able to visit the White House. She did so as part of a Black History Month celebration. At 106, McLaurin most certainly has her own life lessons to teach us, with all that she has seen and experienced.

One lesson she teaches is how to enjoy the moments before us, and to live like we mean it. McLaurin didn’t hold back when she was introduced to the President and First Lady. She savored it. She walked fast. She danced. She displayed more energy and vigor upon meeting the Obamas than some folks who are a quarter of her age.

So my takeaways for the day, and week?

First, we are never old to see our dreams come true.

And second? The secret to long life, according to McLaurin, is to “just keep movin’.” I’m sold!

Michelle Obama: “I wanna be like you when I grow up.”

Virginia McLaurin: “You can.”

We all can–if we just keep movin’.

Monday Motivation, Part 2: Keep the Faith

So I have good news.

Courtesy CNN

Indeed. Yesterday President Jimmy Carter announced that he is currently cancer free during the Sunday School class he leads at . The former president continues treatment, but for now, his doctors cannot detect cancer in his body.

Surely, another Sunday School lesson for us all: Keep the faith.

Monday Motivation, Part 1: Freedom Is More Powerful than Fear.

Welcome to the week.

President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office last night in the wake of last week’s shootings in San Bernardino, California.

Courtesy CNN

My takeaway for today, and this week: Beyond the contours of our foreign and domestic policy (and make no mistake, the issues are as serious as they are complex) we must remember to aspire to our best selves, especially in the face of fear and uncertainty.

Let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional. Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear. –President Barack Obama

Monday Motivation: Fight YOUR Fight.

Welcome to the week!

I found today’s Monday Motivation in the Ravens’ locker room.

My poor Ravens. We’re not having such a great season. But yesterday, Ray Lewis spoke to the team before the start of the game with the San Diego Chargers. And he showed, once again, why he masters motivational speaking.

“Baltimore Locker Room Nov 1” Courtesy The Official & Only Facebook Page of Ray Lewis reminded the team:

Yesterday’s win only takes us to 2 and 6 for the season so far. Not great. But as Lewis reminds us:

One and 6 doesn’t define who you are. What defines who you are is what you do when you’re 1 and 6. –Ray Lewis

His words seemed to work for the team! But this talk can hold serious lessons for us all: Our challenges don’t define us; how we respond to them do.

We probably have some “1 and 6 moments” in our lives. No matter. As Lewis said, we can either “make the play or watch the play being made.”

So for today, and this week, let’s decide to “make the play” and keep plugging away at our goals.

“Fight your fight.” And win!

Monday Motivation: Aung San Suu Kyi, Facing What Has to Be Faced

Last night, I watched a segment on Aung San Suu Kyi on 60 Minutes. She seems to personify “grace under pressure.” She is straightforward, not a firebrand. 

But she has a spine of steel. The words “determination” and “resolve” somehow seem inadequate. 

I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly brave–I used to be frightened of the dark when I was small. And I’m not very good with dead rats and things like that. But I face what has to be faced and I hope as best as I’m able. –Aung San Suu Kyi (Emphasis mine.)

After all, she endured for nearly two decades as a political prisoner under house arrest. Indeed, it took years to accept in person the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her in 1991.

She will need to keep counting on that determination and resolve as her country faces serious challenges: upcoming elections, treatment of the Rohingya minority, poverty.

Most of us will not bear the burden of responsible national leadership, yet we have obstacles to overcome all the same.

This week, let’s find the courage to face whatever challenges us in life, and do so as best we are able. And know that we can do it. 

As I often say from the saddle in the cycle classes I lead, “We got this!”

Monday Motivation: Be an “Incessant Optimist.”

Courtesy New York University

“This is awesome.”

Today’s Monday Motivation is taken from the 2012 NYU Commencement Speech delivered by Supreme Court Justice–and “Incessant Optimist”–Sonia Sotomayor. (Her remarks begin at the 5:29 mark.)

Equal parts advice to the graduates and love letter to New York City, Justice Sotomayor urges the graduates to do big things–and have a big attitude while doing so. She shared the emotions that shape her feelings about the future, and characterized the advice from Steve Jobs’s 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech and her own as an “attitude.” The Justice also reminds the audience that while “disappointment and uncertainty are constant companions in life’s pursuits,” it is OK not to have all the answers at once. We must accept that those constant companions will be present, but return to a well of incessant optimism that inspires hope and gives life meaning.

So. Your charge for the week is to tap into that incessant optimism to accomplish as much as you can to better the world. And do so with attitude.

“Dream big and achieve much.”

Yes, Justice Sotomayor. A wise Latina, indeed.

Dr. King’s “C.”

Today marks the return to school or work (or to school AND work) for many of us. Thoughts of homework, reports and grades quickly come to mind.

But one particular student (and grade) comes to mind for me today–Dr. Martin Luther King.

I thought about him on the 52nd anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” on August 28.

We all know the majesty, power and importance of the speech. What you may not know is that major parts of the speech were improvised. (But like most improvisations, key themes were practiced first.) Thank Mahalia Jackson for encouraging Dr. King to share his dream with the crowd that day.

Obviously, the speech was written and delivered by a master public speaker. No dispute there. But did you know the speech maker–considered one of the best American orators ever–received a “C” in public speaking during his first year at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA? Well, OK, “C+” was the actual grade, but still. (Hat tip to the National Constitution Center’s Constitution Daily for the find.)

I mention this today for this reason: getting a “C”–or any setback–isn’t fatal.

That “C” neither stopped Dr. King from becoming the valedictorian of his class, nor did it impair his ability to deliver important speeches–like his “I Have A Dream” speech, among others.

So. Tuck that thought of Dr. King’s “C” into your metaphorical backpack or briefcase today. Remember to retrieve it when the work gets hard or feels unrelenting. We are all challenged, but we can emerge, strengthened, on the other side.

Monday Motivation: President Carter’s Sunday School Lesson

[My message is] one of hope and acceptance, yes. Hope for the best and accept what comes. You know, we–I think I have been as blessed as any human being in the world. Becoming president of the United States of America, and governor of Georgia, and the work of the Carter Center, a big and growing family and thousands of friends…and living to 91 at the first of October…so everything’s been a blessing for me. So, I’m thankful–and hopeful. –Former President Jimmy Carter

Today’s Monday Motivation is a lesson in grace and courage.

Last week, former President Jimmy Carter announced he has cancer, which now has spread to his brain. He detailed his diagnosis, and also said that he’d be cutting back on his many activities at The Carter Center.

Courtesy The Carter Center

But the one thing he would not cut back on is teaching his regular Sunday school class.

Yesterday he made good on his promise by teaching the class, as he has done 688 times before.

I cannot imagine the strength it took for him to face this diagnosis head on, share it publicly and to deliver the news directly, with humor and grace.

His press conference last week and his Sunday school lesson yesterday are themselves lessons in strength, and the power of speaking clearly and frankly.

There are those who talk tough, and there are those who, through their actions, show that they are tough.

President Carter is a wise man, a thoughtful man and a strong man.

I’m thankful for his example–and hopeful.

Monday Motivation: Sing It, General Dempsey!

Today’s Monday Motivation will make you smile, and give you a boost, especially if you’re smarting from a setback.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey spoke to an audience of high school students last week at an annual Military Child Education Coalition National Training Seminar. While doing so, he deployed one of his secret weapons–he sang a bit of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” (And yes, I have used the song in cycle classes. Highly recommended!)

Apparently, it wasn’t the first time he’s done so.

He also referenced Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping” (sometimes referred to as the “I Get Knoked Down, but I Get Up Again” song) before belting out a tune more familiar to his young audience.

(For those unfamilar with “Tubthumping,” or for those who may have forgotten it.)

But outside of Dempsey’s singing, heed the statement to his audience:

Failure plays a part in every success. —Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey

Remember his statement today, this week, this month, this year, and next year.

We all get knocked down. Get up again. Let nothing keep you down.