Has anyone ever tried to give an actual, legit motivational speech?

You all love this part of the movie. The protagonist, who at this point you are fully invested in, is down in the dumps for one reason or another. In the past hour or so, a myriad of variables have failed to go his or her way. As a result, there is no more optimism and no more hope, and the protagonist is on the verge of giving up.

But then he or she runs into an unlikely friend, someone who has already been established to have some severe character flaws and is the last person you would expect to come to the protagonist’s aid.

The unlikely friend, sensing the mood of the protagonist, says somethings to try to cheer him or her up, but the protagonist doesn’t listen. “Why is this guy even talking to me?” the protagonist will think. “Dude’s a loser.”

But then, out of nowhere, the unlikely friend will say something completely unexpected and profound. With those brief words, they will have fully caught the protagonist’s — and the viewer’s — full attention. Now that the friend has the full stage to his or herself, it’s the point in the movie where he or she delivers an insightful, moving and heartwarming speech that turns the entire movie around.

It’s a speech that you will remember for the rest of your life, and a speech that you will quote as your Facebook status from time to time when you are feeling in need of some motivation.

And it can happen in any context: During halftime of a big sporting event (Gene Hackman in Hoosiers), right before a huge battle (Mel Gibson in Braveheart), or in a class room (Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society.)

Everybody loves an inspirational speech. Most of the time they are so overly cliché, redundant and unoriginal, and yet, they never fail to give us hope and determination. Even while we sit on our couch, watching the movie with our fat bellies protruding out our t-shirts and popcorn crumbs all over our face, we feel like we can accomplish something. Depending on how much the speech affects you, this feeling of determination could last five minutes, five hours, or five days. But we feel something.

That all being said… it’s the movies. These kind of things, these inspirational and motivational speeches, don’t actually happen in real life, do they?

And I’m not talking about people who act as motivational speakers for a living — like someone who lost both his limbs in war, or someone who accidentally killed someone while drunk driving and has dedicated themselves to preaching the right lifestyle.

I mean a spur-of-the-moment and totally improvised speech that derives when you see that somebody actually needs it. I’m talking about when you see someone who is dear to you, and they are clearly distraught, and in dire need of some comforting words. And on a whim, you step in and you try to deliver it.

Well this has happened to me on occasion. And I am pretty sure I was drunk both times.

All of a sudden, in that moment, you feel that you were put on this planet for this exact reason: to cheer this person up when they desperately need it. You have no idea what exactly to say, but just like the movies, you know you will say the right things.

Well, when this has actually happened to me, I find myself doing pretty much the exact opposite. I try to choose my words so carefully that instead of motivating somebody, I actually manage to somehow offend them and make them feel even worse. Instead of feeling inspired, I officially destroy whatever ounce of hope they had left with my god awful attempt at a motivational speech.

I’m not trying to say that spur-of-the-moment motivational speeches don’t happen, but it takes just the right amount of eloquence and delivery to actually perform correctly. If you mumble, over-think or say something mildly offensive — like I usually do — you will fall flat on your face.

Just like how a motivational speech has some type of mystical, joyous effect — conversely, a bad motivational speech has a completely depressing and disheartening effect. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

So I guess the point I am trying to make is, if you’re ever down in the dumps, maybe throw on a movie like Rudy or Remember the Titans, and don’t actually expect your buddies to say the magic words that will suddenly give you added rejuvenation and a renewed zest for life.

Because everyone knows that real life is just like an inspirational movie. Minus the inspiration.

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