Words Of Motivation: The Dangers Of Labels

in Motivation

I have a small but prolific garden. In my wisdom I have decided to turn it into a wildlife friendly garden (in other words let it grow wild!). It is a delight to see it filled with birds by day and to see the hedgehogs come out when the sun sets.

Occasionally I see a pile of feathers in one corner of the garden. This is a sign that a bird of prey, probably a buzzard, has made a meal of a pigeon. He dives into the garden at speed and grabs the bird he has selected, sending a shower of feathers across the lawn. This is what buzzards do. He is designed for just this job. A buzzard is a buzzard and presumably never has any wish to be anything else.

I have some words of motivation for you: we humans are different to buzzards. We choose what we do in life. We select what we are. Some may find that hard to believe but it is true nonetheless.

Sadly however most of us choose to accept the labels other people place on us. Virtually every week I hear someone say ‘I would do that but I am…’ It is a disease of pandemic proportions. Maybe this is the result of the bureaucratic need to categorize people for statistics and the dominance of mass media but, whatever the reason, our labels become our prison.

We can listen to all the words of motivation we like but there will always be someone ready to give us an excuse why we cannot be the best.

An example I am hearing more in Britain now is based on class distinction. Regularly people define what they can or cannot do because they are ‘working class’ or ‘middle class’ as if that describes them as a person. Personally I have no idea what class I belong to and would be grateful if someone could enlighten me. Or maybe I am simply me.

In truth many countries around the world, including Britain, are meritocracies where you can reach any level in society if you want to do so and are prepared to do what it takes to get there. These are not simply my words of motivation; this is the reality if only we would see it.

Many people also label themselves to create a comfort zone around them. The examples are endless; maybe they can’t drive on a motorway because they think they are not a good enough driver or they can’t get a better job because they didn’t go to university. Perhaps they are unable to do better because they too fat, too thin, too ugly, too beautiful, too tall, too short, too old, too young or even because they are a man or a woman.

And yet there is no reason why these should hold anybody back.

Often such self-imposed barriers evaporate if we choose to take definite action. There is always a way.

I know there will always be someone who will commiserate with you and agree that your label is going to stop you doing better. But there are also Nick Vujicic and Lacey Henderson and Thomas.

Nick Vujicic is an Australian with enough energy for ten people. He is a popular public speaker, giving words of motivation to thousands of people during his thoroughly enjoyable talks. Nick loves life and makes the best use of every minute of it. So what? I hear you say. Nick was born with no arms and no legs.

Then there is Lacey Henderson. Lacey is a college student living in Denver, Colorado who lost a leg to cancer when she was nine years old and is still more active and excels at more sports than her peers. When interviewed for the local newspaper, Lacey described herself not as disabled but ‘differently-abled,’

I remember Thomas when I was a Scout instructor. He was a young boy who insisted in being involved in all the activities, including long hikes at night and through rough and muddy landscapes. In fact he would be unhappy if he ever felt he had missed out. Thomas was a paraplegic and completely relied on his wheelchair. We have to drag his wheelchair through and over every obstacle you could imagine and looking back all you could see was a broad grin from Thomas. Thomas went on to make a successful career as a computer programmer.

Thomas lived the other side of the road to Andrew. Andrew has a clubfoot and had to be careful what he did as he was ‘disabled.’

In a conversation with someone a while ago, she told me she had problems forming a serious relationship as she ‘builds walls around her emotions.’ I never go out to offend people and think I am pretty compassionate but I did feel the answer was in her own hands. She would never get anywhere by simply accepting the label she had placed on herself. I understand it is not easy to break free but it is harder to stay confined.

You can read all the words of motivation people like me dispense but it is always your choice. Sorry. We accept the labels we are given. We restrict our potential.

Apparently I have a bad back. So what? It was suggested to me some years ago by a physiotherapist that I should register as disabled and I gave it some thought. But it became apparent to me that I would only be disabled if I decided to be. Okay, I was hardly unable to walk but nonetheless I decided to avoid the label and feel as fit today as I have ever been.

So you make your own decisions. Make your own labels. How about a few like ‘is passionate about life,’ ’successful,’ and ‘inspires other people?’ Would those be some words of motivation for you? Go out and make life what you will.


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Keith Braithwaite has 49 articles online


Keith Braithwaite is a generally nosey and opinionated guy but his heart is in the right place. After nearly thirty years in the corporate world and twenty keenly observing direct selling, he is now following his interests in self-development, internet marketing and historical studies.


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Words Of Motivation: The Dangers Of Labels

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This article was published on 2013/02/22