4 Harsh Truths (No Motivational Speaker Would Tell You) You Must Face to Become Successful

The market for self-help and personal improvement is anywhere around $10 billion, a statistic that easily appears on top results of Google if you typed the keyword “How big is the market of self-help and motivational market”.

If you go a step further, and search for “Top motivational speakers” in your browser, Google would answer with a scrolling carousel full of images of smiling and well-dressed men and women, all staring back at you in unison, making you feel positive and hopeful from the inside.

Some of them would be businessmen (or businesswoman), some would be marketing gurus, and others would bear the label of a personal coach, mentor, or motivational speaker.

But click on any of those pictures, and one thing you would notice is that they are all writers, having written hoards of book which you can find on e-commerce websites ( a revelation you will come across if you keep clicking).

But given the times we are living in, books alone won’t cut it. That’s there are also podcasts, videos, blogs, and every possible digital format that these personalities could use to wrap up and sell their ideas as the “tried and tested” pathway to success.

There is nothing wrong in it, and by no means it’s an effort to malign their hard work and whatever they have gone through.

But after some time, those motivational speeches start appearing theatrical as the speaker starts narrating their journey and the steps they took to prevail in the end, adding a variation of “ Yes We Can” phrase at the end of every line.

Agreed, the times we are living in, everyone needs some optimism. That little push that fuels are chase for big dreams.

But the problem is, most of the motivational speeches are “too positive”, and sometimes too good to be true. But isn’t positivity the thing we all seek when fighting hard times?

It certainly is, but one of the harsh truths is that too much of anything is dangerous and so stands true with advice that makes you fantasize instead of plan.

Most motivational speakers lack credibility for 3 reasons.

First, there is not enough data.

All they have is their fleet of cars, mansions, and yachts (for some cases) to prove that their methods work.

Second, they tell that same “rags-to-riches” story, but with a different protagonist every time. If you dig deeper, you won’t find a single instance when those “Heroes” had it tough.

Yes, they hustled their way up, but even their starting point was way ahead than the final lap we dream of.

Third, it’s too glossy, too sugar-coated, and too soon.

Remember how Rocky did it in the first part? How he got all his confidence and might in that 3-minute legendary background score composed by Bill Conti that comes during his preparation with Mick? Those three minutes in real life could last for more than 3 years; or even three decades.

No speaker would tell you that, because it might upset the audience that pays $250 for a single ticket, and the next show wouldn’t sell. But we are going to talk about all that. 

So let us have a 4 harsh truths that not one motivational essay, movie (unless it’s Rocky or Pursuit of Happiness), speech would ever tell, but you have to brave if you wish to get all the success in life.

The 4 Harsh Truths You Must Face

1. It Takes Money to Make Money

Ever heard or read those “Business Idea with Zero Investments” blogs? It’s where they tell you how you can start a business with no investment.

But once you buy the pass to such shows where such an idea is being sold, they unfold the real scheme.

They say that if you are a student then you can start a website that offers college assignment help services to other students. Or how you could blog and earn money by advertising or by joining the affiliate programs run by Amazon or any other e-commerce giant and earn hundreds of dollars in a day?

That’s a sham. A news flash for all who think that websites business needs no investment: it takes hundreds of dollars to even build the most basic website that looks good.

Now someone would say, “Yes, but not if you learn how to code”. Well, in that case, it’s going to cost you money and time to learn that skill.

And let’s not even talk about the part where you have to spend on digital marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to help it reach the number of people to qualify for a “Famous website”.

The bottom line is, it takes money (even if it’s a small amount), time, and patience to start and manage a business, no matter how small or big it is. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Read also: How Much Does It Really Cost to Build a Website

2. It a Long, Long Road

Millennials are living in a world where Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerberg and idolized. They deserve, no doubt, but some credit should go to the filmmakers too. And that’s the next one of the harsh truths on our list.

David Fincher made “ The Social Network”, and soon people came to the conclusion that Mark had it quick, or by cheating. It’s not for anyone to decide about the latter part, as the dispute between the Winklevoss brother and Mark is now settled for good.

But one thing is for sure; he never had it quick. Even in the movie, it’s shown that he coded for 15-hour stretch, daily, to build the first version of his website. Then he had his friend Eduardo, who had some really good connections. And finally, the billionaire-to-be took the giant leap to become a dropout, a decision that needs confidence that only an Ivy League could have.

One more thing you need to know is Mark was into the computer since his early childhood days. So was Gates, Jobs (he was more into anything technology), and Steve Wozniak.

Their interest might have never made it feel like a hustle, but they were pretty focused from their early days, and that’s why they started whatever they did in their 20’s, and were successful before their 30’s.

No book, speech, or movie is long enough to show all that, even if they make it into parts. Bottom line, it takes years or decades before you break your first bread of success.

3. Being Thankful to Others Doesn’t Guarantee Success

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“Gratitude” is a word that most of us are coming across nowadays more often.

Saying thank you, writing acknowledgment emails, inviting people for dinners, or thanking the “Higher powers” is now a part of most self-help and improvement programs.

There is a book, along with a number of sequels, that says if you keep wishing for something while showing your gratitude to the “powers”, you will get it.

Expressing your gratitude is not for success, but a basic adequate. It informs others that you are obliged for whatever they have done for you, and keeps you in a good light. However, it’s no alternative for hard work.

There are some people in life who can’t care less for your thank you note, and just want you to pay them the right amount for their service rendered.

Some of the most successful people in the world were the most unthankful apes on the planet. It’s no sin or evil, it’s just business.

Bottom line – and another harsh truth: being thankful to others may or may not bring you the success you want, but it sure brings adds a smile to their life.

So express gratitude because it’s a part of you, and don’t wish for anything in return.

4. Luck Can Make or Break It for You

Yes, Rocky did it with his might and fight. Yes, Mark knew how to code and that’s why he did before anyone else.

Yes, Jobs is the revolutionary mind behind smartphones,iPhones, and all that Apple technology. And yes, Michael was the most dreaded Godfather ever in the history of Godfather trilogy universe (The last one ruined the mood, isn’t it?).

But with all their charisma, hard work, and will power, they couldn’t have done it without that one chance.

Rocky’s lifetime opportunity was Creed’s marketing gimmick. The Winklevoss and Divya Narendra tossed the idea of building the most prestigious social network of the world ( as shown in the movie Social Network by David Fincher).

Jobs had Woz for a friend, who is nothing short of a “Miracle guy” if you read any of the books or see movies based on Job’s life. And an unwilling Michael only took over the family business when his brother was gunned to death and his father was injured by multiple gun wounds.

The fact is, luck can have you going when there is no other way, and it could turn the tables around when you are on the top of the world.

The best you could do is to have a safety net that you could fall upon when everything goes against you.

Many motivational speakers advise against because they think of it as a hook that never lets you leave the port of comfort. There is no explanation as to why this happens, but this is the way it is, just another one of the harsh truths you must accept. You can scoot off, or fight like anything and think for the best.


There is no sure shot way to success. Never think that what you intend to do hasn’t been done already.

Copying someone’s idea of success and their struggle would only leave you discontent for your whole life. You can always get your hands upon any reading material to help along your way, but taking it word by word won’t make a difference if you are not asking the basic questions.

Success is never promised to those who dream for the best, but to the ones who prepare for the worst and plan for the better. Take these 4 harsh truths with you in daily life and watch things expand in a new direction.

About The Author

Amy Smith holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, and is a critique of self-help programs that are designed to give a false impression of the real world to its members by prioritizing optimism over planning.

Here are 4 harsh truths that no motivational essay, movie or speech would ever tell, but you have to brave if you wish to get success in life