Motivational speaker – Boxing legend – George Foreman.
When he was a boy his sister taunted him, “You’ll never be anything.” He skipped classes and slept during the day. But that taunt hurt him. It angered him. It awakened the fighting spirit within him. He wanted to change but he didn’t know how. George Foreman became heavy weight boxing champion of the world. Today he is a preacher, entrepreneur and the spokesperson for the George Foreman Grill with over 1 million units sold. And yes a motivational speaker.
I had the opportunity to see George Foreman speak at a Learning Annex event in
Toronto. What could George Foreman, a former boxer, say that might motivate you?
“Look at me.”
That was the opening line of his speech and one that he repeated like a refrain throughout his presentation.
What did that mean? “Look at me.” Don’t look at my scars, my color, education or obstacles. “Look at me.” See the fighting spirit within me. See me for who I am and can be. Although Foreman shouted that to his fight manager – the phrase is one that he might have shouted at his sister, his teacher and at his own reflection in the mirror. His own self talk – to push himself to look at himself.
And maybe the best lesson he offered us that day was for each of us to have the courage to look in the mirror and look at ourselves. To see the possibilities and to fight for what we believe we can be.
I dare you, look in the mirror and shout, “Look at me.”
I was very impressed with George Foreman. He fit the role of motivational speaker exceptionally well. He told his own story – a poor black kid who did not fit in, who didn’t want to go to school, who only wanted to use his physical advantage to intimidate and beat up other kids…
As a child, George Foreman did not have a future nor a direction. The only motivation he had might have been anger and a fighting spirit.
A guidance counselor told him – “If you only want to beat up people you might as well become a boxer.”
George Foreman pointed out that he was never a boxer – he was a fighter. The difference as he illustrated was that a boxer was one who took the perfect stance – hands and feet in the perfect position – looks pretty – almost like a dancer. A fighter was one who ignored the blood and pain and simply fought.
As a true motivational speaker, George Foreman talked about his inner fears and doubts. He laughed at himself and encouraged us to do the same. A true motivational speaker knows that it is not about appearing superior to your audience. You can only motivate people who can identify with you and your pain.
When he started to fight, he confessed that he got scared, closed his eyes and swung his huge fists at his opponent. He was the surprised one when he opened his eyes to discover his opponent on the floor.
That strategy worked until he met better boxers who danced out of the way of his blind-fury fists. The new surprise for him was that after he opened his eyes his opponent was still standing and grinning at him. That demanded a new strategy – time to keep his eyes open when he swung his massive fists.
A motivational speaker must demonstrate the power of his opponent. No one is motivated by an easy victory.
George Foreman talked about his fear of fighting “Smokin’ Joe Frazier”. George Foreman had to knock Joe Frasier down six times to win that fight. Six times! And each time that Foreman knocked Frasier to the mat Foreman prayed that Frasier would stay down this time. How many of you are willing to do the same thing six times just to win one fight? How many give up too soon?
Then it was time to face Mohamed Ali. Five rounds and Ali did not throw a punch. Ali simply danced. George thought he had Ali beat. In the fifth round as they embraced – Ali taunted him with “Is that all you got George?” That taunt chilled George and foreshadowed what was still to come.
George was spent and Ali had made an accurate analysis of his opponent’s endurance. Mohamed Ali won that fight, not because he was tougher, but because he fought smarter.
George Foreman was defeated that day by more than a boxer; he was defeated by a smart fighter.
In his speech, Geroge Foreman honored his opponents. George did not whine nor complain. A real motivational speaker tells life the way it is – not the way it should be.
As he marched purposely off stage, motivational speaker George Foreman closed his presentation with this powerful message:
Fight – Fight – Fight!