Success Strategies - May - 2016

Self Motivation

Were you in the armed services? Which branch? I was in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves, six years total. I trained at Ft. Polk, Louisiana; Ft. Sill, Oklahoma; Ft. Sam Houston, Texas; and Camp Robinson, Arkansas. At first I was a medic and hospital corpsman and then later a lieutenant in an infantry training company.

But regardless of your rank or position in the armed services, everyone starts their day with the sound of Reveille. This name comes from the French words for “wake up!” There are no official lyrics to the tune, but here’s a popular version:

You’ve got to get up
You’ve got to get up
You’ve got to get up this morning
You’ve got to get up
You’ve got to get up
Get up with the bugler’s call
The major told the captain
The captain told the sergeant
The sergeant told the bugler
The bugler told them all

In Great Britain they have a different tune and some popular lyrics, no doubt written by one of the soldiers:

Rev-eil-lee! Rev-eil-lee is sounding
The bugle calls you from your sleep;
it is the break of day.
You’ve got to do your duty
or you will get no pay.

Come, wake yourself,
rouse yourself out of your sleep
And throw off the blankets
and take a good peek at all
The bright signs of day are here,
so get up and do not delay.

Get Up!

Or-der-ly officer is on his round!
And if you’re still a-bed
he will send you to the guard
And then you’ll get a drill
and that will be a bitter pill:

So be up when he comes,
be up when he comes,
Like a soldier at his post,
a soldier at his post, all ser-ene.

I find the British lyrics more motivating. But notice that, in both cases, it’s someone else who’s motivating you to rise and start the day. Once we’re on our own, especially as business owners or managers, we have to learn to motivate ourselves. It’s you and me who must get ourselves out of bed, off our duffs, on our feet, out of the shade, and into the heat of our careers.

I’ve written an entire book on this subject — The Self Motivation Handbook — but I’ll summarize one of the key points for you here: All successful people are self motivated. In fact, what makes you successful is the ability to get yourself to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, even when you don’t feel like doing it.

That last part — “even when you don’t feel like doing it” — is key. Everyone can motivate themselves when they’re in the right mood or circumstances. It’s when you’re feeling lazy or out of sorts that it becomes difficult to focus on the task at hand.

So what do you do to motivate yourself? What convinces you to break the inertia of inaction or wait for yet another alarm to buzz Reveilee for you? How do you counteract your tendency to delay action?

My friend, Robin Palmer, created an alarm clock with soft vocal recordings instead of harsh alarms. She calls it MyWakeUpCall and users rave about how much better it is to wake up to encouraging ideas instead of rattling buzzers.

When it comes to getting yourself started, one thing many find helpful is to remember why you’re doing it. Having your goal or purpose in writing in a prominent place often helps renew the initiative needed.

I start each day by reviewing my goals and scanning my many projects to see which ones will advance me the most. But I’m careful not to get bogged down in the projects before reviewing the goals. The projects only matter to the degree that they advance me toward my goals.

I also review my key relationships and responsibilities to remind me who else is counting on me to do my part well. This inspires me and refreshes my desire to do right by them.

In my office, we have our company’s mission — To Make People’s Lives Better… Profitably — proudly displayed above the copier where all of us will see it each day. At company meetings we remind ourselves how what we’re doing helps make other people’s lives better. Keeping this in the front of your mind will keep you focused on pleasing your customers and taking care of your fellow workers.

One of my friends keeps his family’s photo on his desk with a question: Will what I’m doing now make them proud and keep them safe?

Find out what it is that motivates you. Learn to become more and more self-motivated. The more you can motivate yourself without the need of a wakeup call from someone else, the more successful you’ll become.

Jim Cathcart is the founder of and author of 17 books. He’s a strategic advisor for ATRA and a regular contributor to GEARS. For free access to short video messages from Jim, go to