Guest Column

Who Motivates the Motivator?


During a recent leadership seminar, I asked participants what motivated them to get out of bed in the morning. I was expecting some profound statements: "I love my job," "I’m looking forward to meeting a friend today for lunch" or "I have an exciting project I’m looking forward to accomplishing."

Their actual responses amazed me. One attendee stated his sole motivation for getting out of bed each day is to go to the bathroom!

Afterward, I started to think about self-motivation and who motivates the motivator. The motivator is someone who motivates and inspires others. Does this describe you?

On a weekly radio program that I host in Fitchburg, Mass., I had the opportunity to interview "The Motivator" himself, Les Brown. Brown is a celebrity speaker, former host of a syndicated TV talk show and author of Live Your Dreams. He has been my role model and inspiration for years.

When I asked him, "Who motivates the motivator?" Brown replied that we all need a daily action plan to motivate the motivator. We must be motivated ourselves before we can motivate others. Brown said he includes reading, meditation and prayer in his daily plan.

What can you do to generate self-motivation? Consider the following ideas.

Find a reason to wake up in the morning besides the bathroom.

Take inventory of all your blessings. In her book, Real Moments, author Barbara DeAngelis asks us to think about everything we possess right now. Think about personal belongings, relationships and memories. If we were to lose everything, how much would you pay to get it all back? Would you pay $1,000, $1 million, or is everything we have priceless? What a great way to determine your wealth!

Be grateful.
Cherish all you have as if it will be gone tomorrow. What relationships can you work on? What people mean the most to you? Have you expressed your fondness lately?

Keep a journal.
Fill it daily with all the things you’re thankful for. Additionally, write down what you’re looking forward to doing the following day. Include these items in your daily prayers. Affirm that you’re going to have a great day. This is important stuff to keep in mind. It’s easy to become lost in the drudgery of your daily routine and let stress overcome you. Keep focused on what really matters to you, and that focus will generate self-motivation to help you deal with trying circumstances.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl shares the unspeakable horror he experienced in Nazi death camps. Suicide was common. People killed themselves by running into barbed-wire fences because they didn’t want to face another minute of life in the concentration camps.

What motivated Frankl to endure the pain and make it to freedom? Prisoners with a vision beyond the torture had a mission to survive, he said. Additionally, being thankful for the everyday things, such as the small portion of bread or soup that they were to receive that day, kept them motivated to make it through another day. Remember that the present is a priceless gift.

What are you looking forward to doing today?

Read an inspirational passage from one of your favorite books daily.
Since our society overwhelms us with negative information, fill your mind with positive and motivating thoughts to generate daily self-motivation. I recommend reading The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, which offers valuable techniques.

If you’re feeling depressed, read The God Memorandum or The Twelfth Angel both written by Og Mandino. They are two of my favorite inspirational books.

Listen to motivational tapes daily.
This is an invaluable tool for generating motivation, confidence and clarity.

Fill your life with people you can trust.
Give them a call or visit them when you feel down. One positive word from a friend can help you make it through a tough day or time.

Julie Bartkus is president of Motivate Teachers, P.O. Box 2574, Lowell, MA 01851. E-mail: