Choose Love: An Interview with Motivational Speakers Houston Kraft & Kyle Scheele

Choose love. Make kindness normal. Motivational speaker Houston Kraft built his movement based on these seemingly basic principles. But are they really so simple if we are more likely to ignore the ideals and values of humanity we were taught back in kindergarten? A little over a month ago, I heard Kraft speak at my school, and I walked out of that assembly having to question what fear is, and how it tied into how we as a society treat each other. I reached out and asked the speaker a couple questions about fear, and followed up with another motivational speaker, Kyle Scheele. Interview by Cath Lei.

Lithium: Why do you think we’re so much more inclined to do things out of fear than, say, love? And do you think it’s possible to overcome that obstacle?
Houston Kraft: I think we are inclined to do things out of fear because fear is so instinctual and self-preservational [sic]. If I have the option between doing something that serves me or saves me or helps me and doing something that hurts or is challenging or uncomfortable, my most basic instincts will guide me toward the more selfish option. Love, oftentimes, requires us to be selfless. It requires us to do things that go unrecognized or without reciprocation. It sometimes asks us to respect people who don’t respect us. It asks us to be kind to those who weren’t compassionate first. It asks us to stand up for someone even when it means we get laughed at next. Love requires us to go against our natural protection mechanisms. It is way easier to live your life selfishly. It is way easier to live your life scared. Absolutely. Mother Teresa wasn’t born selfless. She didn’t go to selflessness college. She chose to be selfless in relentless, daily ways. Like any other muscle in our body, our capacity for compassion or selflessness grows with practice. We have to be stronger than our fear - and that requires us to workout our ability to love others.

Lithium: What’s your experience with overcoming fear and channeling it into something positive?
Houston Kraft: I fear what other people think about me. I fear failure. Every time I get on stage, I risk being judged. Every time I look at my material or my content, my fear tells me I’m not doing it right or I’m not good enough yet. But you take that fear, and you stand up on stage and speak your truth to the best of your ability. You face failure and pain and discomfort because it’s the only way in life that you get to see success. It’s the awesome part about life - even when you are scared, you have the capacity to choose to show up, love others, and dare greatly anyways.

LM: What would you tell your past self in regards to fear? What has changed from then and now?
Kyle Scheele: If I had to talk to my past self about fear, I would tell myself anything - I'd ask myself something: "What are you so afraid of?" It's a cliche question, but it's also a powerful one, because when we are forced to articulate our fears, to actually say them out loud, we often find that they lose their power over us. We realize how silly they sound, how unlikely they are to happen, and how ridiculous we are for fearing them at all. Mark Twain once wrote, “I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” I think most of us are like that. Most of us spend a lot of our time fearing things that never come to pass. And by naming these things out loud, we're forced to grapple with them in a real way. The truth is, most of the things I've ever been afraid of haven't come to pass. And those that have? I made it through them in the end.

While inspiring, all answers as to what fear is have left me confused, still drumming up new questions, still having to wonder how it all ties together. It begs the question of what fear is. Is it a reaction? Is it a learned concept? We have our associations with fear, and each person sees each thing differently. Perhaps your fear is dark rooms, or climbing mountains; perhaps it’s a grade drop.
I’ve been circling around these questions and my ideas, and the only conclusion that makes any sense is the open-ended question. Similar to how we question love or happiness or sadness, perhaps it’s best to leave it open to interpretation. Perhaps the best way to regard fear is to question it, but never seek a true answer.

1 comment

  1. i suddenly have a new appreciation for motivational speakers