“Do you believe in miracles?” – Al Michaels at 1980 Olympic hockey game
“When people tell you dreams don’t come true… tell them about ‘Rudy‘” – trailer for the film “Rudy”
“Hey… don’t ever let somebody tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. Alright. You got a dream… you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. You want something, go get it! Period!!!” – Will Smith, “The Pursuit of Happyness”
Everyone has a list of movies, songs, books, etc. that make them feel good. Something that inspires them and makes them feel bigger than themselves. Something that makes them believe anything is possible. Whenever I wrote something like the quotes above down on a piece of paper, I felt like I had to do it in secret. I felt like “Wow, I can’t let someone see what inspires me! They might make fun of me!”
But what are we afraid of? Why are we ashamed to say that something inspires us, and makes us believe we can be something better? That just because life does everything it can to stomp on our dreams, and make us feel small, we don’t have to let it happen that way!
In a world spiraling out of control, with a nation reeling from recession, war, and overall lack of confidence in our leaders, where can we turn to, to find hope?
I have a very thick stack of motivational, self improvement books on various shelves throughout my house. I am always looking for something to provide new information, provide a new perspective on something I’ve already read or heard, or something to just make me feel good! The following is a list of some of my all time favorite inspirational books on my shelves.
- “There Are No Limits” – Danny Cox
- “Seize the Day” – Danny Cox
- “Awaken the Giant Within” – Anthony Robbins
- “The Magic of Thinking Big” – David J. Schwartz
- “100 Ways to Motivate Yourself” – Steve Chandler
- “The 4-Hour Workweek” – Timothy Ferriss
- “Unleash the Warrior Within” – Richard “Mack” Machowicz
- “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Steven Covey
- “Failure is Not an Option” – Gene Kranz
- “Lone Survivor” – Marcus Luttrell
- “The Last Lecture” – Randy Pausch
- “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It” – Cali Ressler & Judy Thompson
- “Screw It, Let’s Do It!” – Sir Richard Branson
- “The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer” – Art Berg
- “Seal of Honor” – Gary Williams
- “The Warrior Elite – The Forging of SEAL Class 228” – Dick Couch
- “The Finishing School – Earning the Navy SEAL Trident” – Dick Couch
- “Chosen Soldier” – Dick Couch
- “Unstoppable” – Cynthia Kersey
- “The Survivor” – John Goddard
- “The Last Men Out” – Tom Downey
- “3000 Degrees” – Sean Flynn
So why such a long list and what does it mean? To me the list represents different things. For some of the more well known titles such as “The 7 Habits…”, “The Magic of Thinking Big” and “Awaken the Giant Within”, these represent some of the best selling teachings and ideas from inspirational leaders such as Tony Robbins, Steven Covey and David Schwartz of the last 25 years! Others such as “100 Ways to Motivate Yourself”, “Why Work Sucks…”, and “The 4-Hour Workweek” represent the latest ideas in lifestyle design, career management, thinking outside the box, striving for personal achievement and specific ideas and tips on self development.
Finally everyone needs heroes to look up to. Men and women to inspire us, demonstrate exceptional bravery, courage, a sense of adventure, and attitudes of “Unstoppable” inspiration to be better than they are. For me those heroes have often been members of the military, firefighters, and explorers whether they be here on Earth or in space. Books such as “Lone Survivor” and “Seal of Honor”for example tell stories of Navy SEALs in the war on terror and the exceptional bravery shown by them, often at the expense of their own lives. Dick Couch’s books on the Navy SEALS and Green Berets are stories of uncompromising discipline, determination, physical endurance beyond that of most Olympic athletes and willingness to lay their lives down in defense of our nation! Stories such as those described in “3000 Degrees” and “The Last Men Out” tell the tale of firefighters during the Worcester fire in Massachusetts when four men were lost, and a rescue squadron of the FDNY. Both stories will leave you breathless and inspire you with tales of commitment to your fellow teammates, bravery in the face of disaster, as well as humor and a desire to help others at great personal sacrifice! “The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer” tells the story of Art Berg, a man who, despite being a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, trained for a 300+ mile endurance race, learned to drive again, and also started several successful businesses! It’s a great example, that no physical impairment could or should dampen your spirit or your belief that anything is possible.“The Survivor” tells the story of John Goddard one of the last, larger than life great explorers who’s accomplished nearly 500 goals in life to see and do things on nearly every continent and in dozens of countries. Finally “Failure is Not an Option” is written by Gene Kranz, the legendary Flight Commander in Mission Control during the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions, among others. Gene Kranz tells the extraordinary history of America’s space program from its infancy to the Space Shuttle program. Talk about describing legendary heroes!
Most of the time Hollywood produces non-eventful crap that makes stars out of actors and actresses, but leaves no real impact on the world. Every so often however, Hollywood tells a story that truly inspires! Who will ever forget the underdog story of the original “Rocky”? Movies such as “Rudy”, “Remember the Titans”, “Invincible” or more recently “The Blind Side“, leave us feeling good and rooting for the individual or team, striving to live out their dream. “Miracle” which was the Disney film that told the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team makes me lean forward on the edge of my seat and bast in the glory of that team. What’s particularly poignant about this film was the fact that Herb Brooks, the legendary coach of the team, was tragically killed in a car accident shortly before the film was released. Seeing a group of ordinary college kids accomplishing something they really shouldn’t have been able to do, is truly motivating! Especially now, since the Olympics have become the home of so-called “Dream Teams” made up of professional athletes. What do young amateur athletes have left to inspire them? These are the types of films I want to see!!!
For whatever it’s worth, I think what we need more of today in society than anything else, is inspiration, role models and heroes to look up to. What kinds of role models do most kids have? Rap stars with criminal records, professional athletes on steroids, corrupt politicians, businessmen embezzling millions or billions from their companies, investors or ordinary citizens? Is it any wonder we seem to have no sense of direction as a country or anything to strive for? I know what kind of information I’m looking for and maybe if enough people get back to their core values, and demand accountability, high ethics and reward true “heroes” for what they do and who they are, we as a society may start being able to hold our heads high again! Who or what inspires you?