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Motivational Sports Speaker | Joel Garfinkle

A Motivational Speaker on Sports Delivers Powerful Leadership Lessons

A good inspirational speaker knows how to use stories to boost morale, inspire confidence, and empower employees. As a motivational speaker, sports and other pursuits outside of the corporate world often give me powerful insights. Sports lend important insights about how to hone perseverance, skill, communication, and many other qualities. Focusing on how great athletes overcome enormous challenges can provide tremendous inspiration for your employees. I recently shared these two sports stories in a motivational speech for a local company.

Making people feel they belong will build a solid team.
When Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, he became the first black baseball player to break into the major leagues. But as his story shows, making history isn’t easy. Robinson had to deal with an onslaught of racial slurs and other verbal abuse, not only from the crowd and opponents, but also from members of his own team. He also dealt with continued physical abuse from fellow players—pitchers aiming for his head, baserunners thrusting their metal-cleated shoes toward his face as they slid into second, spectators throwing bottles at him. On an especially rough day, Robinson had booted two ground balls, and the boos were cascading over the diamond. Then—in front of the thousands of spectators—Pee Wee Reese, the team captain and Dodgers shortstop, came over and put his arm around Jackie. “That may have saved my career,” Robinson reflected later. “Pee Wee made me feel that I belonged.”

Branch Rickey, owner of the Dodgers, had also lent support early on. Rickey had told Robinson, “It’ll be tough. You're going to take abuse you never dreamed of. But if you’re willing to try, I'll back you all the way.”

Ask yourself if any of the employees in your workplace may not feel like they belong, whether because of their background, gender, personality type, or any other characteristics. How can you reach out and make them feel included and valued? Moreover, if anyone in your workplace is facing discrimination, what can you do to intervene and shift the culture of your company? A good motivational speaker can use sports stories and other general interest topics to help you and your employees understand and strengthen your office dynamics.

Too often, we sabotage ourselves by getting intimidated by others’ experience, seniority, or confidence level. It’s okay to feel intimidated—but when we stay in that state of fear, we never push our own limits and reach our potential. We need to practice strategies for overcoming our fear and finding out what we’re really capable of doing.

In the movie Hoosiers, a small-town basketball team makes it to the state finals. Because they’ve only played in front of small hometown crowds, they feel petrified at the thought of playing in front of 20,000 people, and against bigger, more accomplished players.

As soon as they get the news, their coach takes them to the huge arena where they’ll be playing. He has the players stand on a chair to measure the height of the basketball hoop, and asks how tall it is. “Ten feet,” they tell him. The coach asks them the height of the hoop in their tiny home gym. “Ten feet,” they reply.

In other words, they have all the skills they need to play as well on this court as at home. The coach knows the only difference is the intimidation factor, which this simple exercise helped them overcome. They go on to win the state championship. As this story shows, when you believe in yourself and radiate that confidence, you’ll go far.

This story shows employees that if they’re feeling intimidated by anyone at work, they should try to focus less on that person’s abilities and more on their own. It’s easy to lose sight of their own accomplishments, skills, and potential in the presence of someone they admire. I frequently tell people that when they catch themselves feeling intimidated, they should take stock of their own strengths, and remember that focus and drive will take them anywhere they want to go. By inspiring this confidence, a motivational speaker can open a world of new possibilities for your employees.

A speaker’s motivational sports stories may also prompt your employees to find lessons and insights in their own hobbies and interests. The world is full of lessons that apply to the business realm, and the pursuits we engage in often give us powerful tips for developing our leadership potential as well. When choosing a motivational speaker, look for a dynamic speaker who uses imaginative techniques like persuasive storytelling to motivate employees.

Copyright © 2012 Joel Garfinkle, All Rights Reserved. Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S., and the author of 7 books, including Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. He has worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Google, Deloitte, Amazon, Ritz-Carlton, Gap, Cisco, Oracle, and many more. Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter and receive the FREE e-book, "41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!"

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