Thursday, 11 March 2010

The Power of the Mind

We were debating appropriate inspirational speakers for a client requirement yesterday which got me thinking about my own experiences of speakers over the last 12 years. The brief was somewhat woolly - inspiring, a story to tell, humorous, entertaining... and not much money (but ideally well known!). A pretty common brief truth be told.

Eddie Izzard struck me as a perfect candidate - 43 marathons in 51 days, and funny. Forget the funny...43 marathons in 51 days - what! how? why? I'm training for a half marathon - but 26 miles...not likely! But I am training, BMIs good, heart rate ok...blah blah...but this guy did next to no training. Sir Ranulph Fiennes was another who made me sit up and take notice - celebrating turning 60 with 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days, just months after a heart by-pass operation. Ok, he trained...but by climbing Everest when everyone (probably wisely) warned him against it.

Bear Grylls summed up why he's achieved - the difference he points out between similarly skilled poeple is some talk about it and some get on and do it...he gets on and does it.
The book, Bad Science (author Ben Goldacre - recommended) illustrates time and again the power of the placebo effect during clinical trials - help people believe they're capable/cured and just watch them achieve/recover. The Power of the Mind.
So back to the speaker thing. It is difficult to sometime pinpoint what we mean by inspiring - and sometime even more difficult to justify the kind of money some of the speakers charge. But having now reflected on my own personal experiences of speakers I've found the truly stand out candidates to offer me both short term energy and long term positive frames of reference. I can't tell you exactly why, and I may not make it up Everest but they've influenced many of my decisions at work at home and at play...and perhaps still yet will have me running 26 miles around London in April 2011 for a good cause.
Some classic, remodelled Eddie Izzard for light relief