Contact Charlie


(574) 807-2279

Email Charlie:

How to Build
a Positive Attitude

and keep the darn thing!

stoke the fire within book




Click here to order.





Available at the Notre Dame Bookstore and


A Guide to Igniting Your life

stoke the fire within book




Click here to order..





Available at the Notre Dame Bookstore and

charlie adams articles

Back To Articles Page

The Meaning of 'Stoke the Fire Within'

I am constantly reading about peak performers and came across an article on Kevin McHale, a former Boston Celtic. Now a head coach in the NBA, McHale has spent a little time as a television analyst on the sport before getting back into coaching.


When going over his time away from coaching, the article put it this way: Two years as a TV analyst on TNT merely stoked that inner fire.


I got a chuckle out of that because it came so close to the words 'Stoke the Fire Within.' I am amazed how often I read about peak performers and learning a major reason for their individual or organizational success is some kind of 'fire within.'


I don't have the exact number, but over the years I have interviewed between 5000 and 10,000 people, from Burt Lancaster and Michael Jordan to a local blind lady who got a job in the darkroom of Memorial Hospital because having to see in there wasn't vital. As I state when I deliver motivational keynotes and breakouts, I found that a major reason for success or significance for these people was having that fire within, and the ability to keep it stoked. To keep it kindled. As we know, we all have times where our fire gets pretty weak, and there are times it is roaring!


When I say fire, I don't mean running around going, "Raaah...raaaah!!" Well, Tim Tebow does that, and it works for him but for most of us it is an inner fire. In many cases it is a steely determination to get things accomplished by having a 'can do' and solution-centered approach. It starts with the leader clearly stating the vision and the people buying into that it will take working as a team to reach goals.


It will mean having an 'on fire' attitude. Jim Harbaugh has achieved tremendous success. In his first year as head coach of the previously inept San Francisco 49ers, he took them to within one win of being at this week's Super Bowl. He did so partly because of his 'on fire' attitude. A few years ago, when he accepted the head coaching job at Stanford, he stated that he would approach his job with "a passion unknown to mankind."


He talked the talk and has walked the walk.


To this day, when I talk to meeting planners whether they are in Fairbanks, Alaska or Elkhart, IN, they keep coming back to attitude when they talk about how they would like their people to feel following a 'Stoke' presentation.


When delivering 'How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing' I always bring up something I heard Lou Holtz say that I believe plays a role in people developing a fire and keeping it stoked. He said we have 4 Needs.


* First, you have to have something to do. A purpose. When Fred Smith hired his drivers at Fed Ex, he didn't tell them they were just driving around boxes. He said in those boxes were parts to get an assembly line back on track, or a vital piece for a medical procedure. Those drivers then had more of a purpose and a fire to get their job done that day.


* The second thing you have to have is someone to love. We are put on earth to love other people. Those who don't have anyone exist without happiness.


* Third, you have to have something to believe in. When I give my perspective on this I talk about faith, and then about believing in each other.


* Finally, you have to have something to look forward to.


I love getting into those 4 things when I speak, because you can see people writing them down and relating to each one. When you have those based covered, you are pretty content.


With 'the fire within' I believe many people are born with it because of a parent or parents. I will write more about her later, but my mother - the late Dr. Anne H. Adams - was professor of the year at Duke University and head of the Reading Department. She had a fire within that burned like crazy, as she had a passion to teach teachers how to connect with students who struggled with reading. She would get up at 4 AM to work on the many books she wrote, and was featured in Newsweek magazine. As a kid, I didn't appreciate her passion because I was more into playing with my buddies, but it sure hit me later.


As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, when I found TV Journalism, I had found my fire (at that time). I took dead aim on that profession until the fire switched to helping others reach peak performance through motivational presentations. It led to having a fire for customer service through hosting group travel experiences, and then at age 45 a side fire erupted as I developed a passion for helping families with athletes connect with college scholarships.


Some of us have multiple fires. When my son was going through the recruiting process as a cross country athlete, I went to hear an expert speak on Essay Writing because that is part of the college application process. When the lady began her presentation, I thought she looked familiar. Sure enough, a few days later I was picking up organic fruit and veggies, and there she was selling it. She told me two of her passions were essay writing help and organic fruit and veggies!


When I am speaking to organizations, I talk about how important it is to put people in position's connected to their passion, and to have a clear purpose of where they are going as a group. Years ago, a smalltown newspaper had a purpose of only covering local news. When Lindbergh crossed the ocean, someone in the newsroom said surely that would be in the paper. The editor said no, just local news. If Mr. Lindbergh were to visit their town, he would get in their paper.


They had a clear vision, a fire. Maybe they would have to change with the times in the future, but that that point everyone knew their vision as an organization.


I will touch on the 'fire within' more in future writings. Here's to you staying on fire!


- Charlie Adams, Motivational Speaker
574 807 2279 || Email Charlie