Need Motivation?… BE the Motivation!


Need motivation? BE the motivation!


When I was younger, I got turned down for a job promotion at work. When I asked the hiring manager for reasons why I didn’t get the job, he said that something during my interview worried him. Apparently, when he asked me about teamwork, I told him: “My teammates and I depend on each other for encouragement and motivation on the days when we’re feeling a little down”

(I can’t remember saying this specifically in the interview, but it doesn’t matter. He heard what he heard.)


So what’s wrong with this?..


Seems like a harmless comment about teammates, camaraderie, and bonding with other employees, right? I thought there was nothing wrong with showing up to work in a bad mood (sometimes), because your teammates can provide motivation and cheer you up.

I mean, sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re sad. Right?


Well, the hiring manager went on to explain that nobody should depend on others for motivation. What if it’s not there one day? He was looking to promote employees that would be self-motivated. Leaders. People who come into work motivated every. single. day.


Did you know anyone like that when you were 19 years old?

Me neither.


Like any constructive criticism, I took it extremely personally, over-analyzed it, got angry, had a little cry, then finally accepted this is something I might have to work on.

Here is some of my over-analysis and thought process…


Peter and Paul:


Peter and Paul are workmates. Average 20-something year old dudes, working in a retail cell phone store. They’re happy some days, and sad other days. This is OK individually, but when they get together, things get interesting.


On Monday:

  • Peter is happy
  • Paul is happy
  • Today is a good day at work

Motivation when Happy


On Tuesday:

  • Peter is sad
  • Paul is happy
  • There’s a decent chance peter can cheer up Paul
  • Today is an average day at work.

Motivation teamwork



  • Peter is sad
  • Paul is sad
  • The entire day sucks

Motivation Not Working


  • Peter is having a breakdown
  • Paul is sad, mostly about Peter
  • The spiral continues downward

Motivation not working at all!


Misery loves company (and company loves more misery)


I’m not a mental health professional. (You can probably tell by my stick figure drawings). But I’ve been researching this topic for a while and found some related information I’d like to interpret. Yes, with more stick figure drawings.


Sad seeking sad:

No matter our feelings, we usually like to be around people that feel the same way. Sad people will usually seek out other sad people. Happy people naturally seek out happy people.


Get to work at 8am: 

  • Mix of happy and sad people…

Happy and sad at work


By 10am the office looks like this:

  • Happy people group together
  • Sad people find eachother somehow…

Motivate the happy people


When sad people are surrounded by happy people, they can get even sadder:

  • Feeling outnumbered can push people in the opposite direction
  • Happy people, seen through negative lenses, can appear annoying…

Motivation doesn't work sometimes


Why am I Sad? 

  • Some people are happy at home, but not at work

Need Motivation at work

It’s highly possible that extremely happy/motivated people change temperatures as soon as they get into work. Traffic during the commute, horrible bosses, or even just doing activities that you just don’t like doing can wear you down.


I Eventually Started to Think Differently…


Slowly over the years I’ve become more and more self motivated. If I depend on others for motivation, the fate of my day is basically in their hands. That could be a good thing, but it could just as easily be a bad thing.


Don’t get me wrong, I still get a lot of inspiration and motivation from others, everywhere in the world… But I don’t rely on it.

Furthermore, I believe that my self-motivation rubs off on others. Motivating others isn’t my primary goal, it’s an awesome side effect of being a self-motivated individual. Things catch on pretty quickly when you lead by example.


Standing Out at Work:


A recent personal example…

It was March 30, 2017. My team had a quarterly team-building workshop led by a motivational speaker. (Awesome guy, Jon Sanchez, you can check him out here.)

One of the things Jon encouraged everyone to do is “embrace your crazy”.


Your wacky, crazy ideas should be lived and shared, not hidden or run from.


Jon and I grabbed a beer later that night and he learned about my 5am challenge and self-motivation. He encouraged me to start sharing my enthusiasm with my teammates. In fact, he said to share it with my team, family, friends, and anyone I meet. Share with everybody! Embrace your crazy!

So the very next morning when I got up at 5 AM, I sent an email to all my teammates. It said something along the lines of “I’m very excited to be a part of such a kick-ass team, and I can’t wait to crush it today with you”.

Then, the next day I wrote another pump-up email. Then the next day, and the next. Now, this daily email has been going on for over 500 days.


Word started to spread across my company that I was one of those ‘annoying happy guys’. People reached out to get on my morning email list. They wanted to be excited about work too.

Throughout the year my boss traveled to executive meetings all around the country and shared my emails with others. Other managers and executives from around the company wanted to be included. They joined my daily email list.

When I announced I was leaving the company, I had managers from all over the country emailing me good wishes and to reach out to them if I ever wanted a position on their team. Even though they had no clue who I was or what my skills were, they loved the fact that I show up to work every day motivated, and help others do the same.


That’s great… But happy people can be really annoying…


Yep, they certainly can be. But, who would you rather hang out with?…

motivational quote



Call to Action:

I’m not saying everyone needs to wake up early and be excited for no reason. But I’d like to challenge you to be more self-motivated.

When you wake up, have a think about why you are doing whatever you are doing. What’s the end goal you are shooting for?  Is it to help people? Help your family? Do you do it for the money? Your clients? You might find that answering these types of questions every now and then gets you thinking about what you want from life, vs. all the downsides out there.


So, what motivates you?


PS. If you truly can’t think of a reason to be motivated, just call 1800-5AMJOEL. I’ve got a fresh slap in the face waiting for you.

11 thoughts on “Need Motivation?… BE the Motivation!

    • They did! I built friendships that would have never been formed otherwise. I hope to carry this practice into my next job, if/when I ever get one! Cheers!

  • This sounds exactly like my old workplace. I quite liked my job but as soon as I walked through the door I was dragged down by the sad, unhappy horrible people at work (mainly the bosses not the staff interestingly enough). I’m currently on a career break and determined not to go back there and into that toxic atmosphere. Thanks for the wake up call that I need to be more self motivated, and maybe need that slap in the face! Thanks Joel!

    • *Slap! Haha. Congrats on the career break, that’s a bold decision and a good move. Take as much time as you need to find your next workplace – Life is too short to waste time in toxic environments. 🙂

  • It’s really interesting that you dug into your memory bank about that promotion you didn’t get…as a teenager. And the fact that “depending” and relying on others is detrimental. Such a fine line to determine whether your helping others increase their own motivation or just being self-motivated is the key. You’ve built on that failure to change your own thinking…and you’ve broken through the ice! Your visuals are awesome!

  • Great article Joel. I needed to see this! I read Chad Carson’s article this morning with you and thought I needed to hear more about you. So I decided to click on the 5amjoel website since that is where I am these days. I was at a real estate mastermind a couple weeks back and spent about an hour with a multi family guy at the social and he challenged me to to get up an hour earlier then usual, which turns out to be 5am. Last year I had already made a hard start decision to be up at 6am to get some time in with God before work(wound tight and always stressed out, needed some peace). I am, I was, I am trying to change the happiness/stressed part of me. I can say that has made a huge difference in me and now I am looking forward to the change this 5am challenge is going to bring. Reading Multi Family Millions by David Lindahl now and went this weekend to check out 3 small MF. We are thinking that in order to get where we want to be, we need to go bigger then the smaller MF. Can you steer me to any great articles or teachings on syndication for a new guy thinking about that? THANKS Jack

    • Hey Jack, thanks for stopping by! It’s so good to hear you are taking action towards the things you want in life! You are a legend.

      Best blog I found about Syndications is this one. Read all 4 parts, it gets very interesting:

      As for your 5am challenge, good luck and let me know if I can help in any way. When I first started, one of my morning routine items was to write down 3 things that I appreciate. It’s easy to start with, but after a while it gets harder and harder to come up with things you haven’t noted before. Then it hits you… every single thing in your life can be appreciated. Your happiness will rise, stress will lower, and you’ll feel like the most blessed person in the world.

      Cheers! Have a wicked day!

  • i think i need to get up at 5 am everyday. i was let go from a job i loved by a toxic boss who hated the place! peace comes from I was looking for another job, sadness comes from not being able to say goodbye to 51 Alzheimer’s residents and their families because toxic man enjoyed not allowing me the privilege…

    thank you for your inspiration and great words- I love Rose with thorns vs. Thorn with roses.

    • I think it was Abraham Lincoln who first said the thorn bushes with roses quote. Motivation becomes a lot easier when our perspective is changed.

      Good luck with 5 AM. It changed my life and I hope it will help change yours for the better!

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