5 AM Club is Everything Wrong with the Self-Help World

My understanding after reading 100+ self-help books

I respect Robin Sharma.

He knows what he’s talking about, and I can’t deny how much I have enjoyed his work. I did a 90-minute long discussion about his first book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

After seeing his posts about how much thought and effort he’s putting in his 5 AM Club Book and all behind the scene of his upcoming book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Every day he’d say he has added everything he knew about motivation, life, and success in that. He proudly promoted the book as his best work so far. So I ordered the book the next day it was available on Amazon India.

The book was better than I had expected it to be. The modules and diagrams were practical and helped me retain the information. The pie-chart made it accessible and easy to digest. The story he recited to carry forward these learnings was also decent.

I finished the book in 3 days, and I woke up at 5 AM for a week. 

I’d get up, follow the 20/20/20 method, go back to sleep until 8.30 AM to get up again, and get ready for work. Needless to say, my routine was screwed.

In my attempt to wake up at 5, I played with my body clock; I spoiled my routine and felt sleepy and tired the whole day.

As an innocent kid, I believed that it was the only way I could succeed. 

It took me another sluggish and hopeless week to get back to my old routine.


Infinite Cycle of Self-help

I had totally forgotten about the book until two months ago when I saw Robin in a YouTube ad talking about his 5 AM course.

After 2 years of publishing the book, he came up with a course on 5 AM Club to talk about things he couldn’t add to the book 🤯

It was the first time I saw a self-help author making a course on his book. I was amazed, and it got me thinking about how the world of self-help has become an infinite cycle. 

Every self-help author says that their new book is their best work so far. But, when you dig deeper, you'll know their best work is the one that they need to sell.

When you dig deeper you’ll know their best work is the one that they need to sell.

Why would I buy a book from you when you will teach the same thing in your course (with some addition if there are) and then write another book on a similar topic with tons of wisdom borrowed from the eastern and western philosophies? But we still buy.

They always have more. 

And we always need more.


FOMO is the New Product-Market Fit

It’s the same reason the self-help industry will be reaching $25 billion by 2025. People will keep buying, and the smart ones will keep writing and selling the written high.

When we finish a book, the sense we get is no different from gulping down your favorite beer or texting your crush. We feel like we’ve achieved something when in reality, we’ve only read the same thing we’ve read free on the internet. It doesn’t happen with all the self-help books but most of them.

They spread like wildfire. 

The author tries their best to pursue their best in every podcast they appear. They appear on Oprah if they have the resources and the network. They run Amazon ads that instigate FOMO among netizens.

We all need hope. They provide.

The best product-market fit.


But Do They Guarantee Results?

Despite after reading the 5 AM Club, I don’t wake up at 5 am. I don’t even wake up at 7 am. Despite reading the Millionaire Next Door, I am not a millionaire yet. Despite reading multiple startup books, I am not a founder.

The problem here is not with the book or me.

In most cases, these self-help books over-promise and we underperform.

Reading has definitely made me better in all realms of my life. 

I have learned more from the between the lines than what the book promised. No matter what we read, if we don’t practice, if we don’t take action on the lessons — there’s no point.

I don’t discourage reading self-help. I still do from time to time but I pick a book that promises a different story and approach towards life and is not talking the generic stuff I read and am guilty of creating on LinkedIn.

I discourage the fake promises and the dreams that are being sold in the name of self-help. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This is how capitalism works.

Writers do it on a small scale from their articles, and people with higher leverage do it in the form of events and via their bestselling books.

It’s the same thing.


What Can We Do?

Reading is the exercise of your mind. 

Even if you pick a book from trash, you can read it to focus your mind, learn new words, and scrutinize the writing of the author—an excellent way for beginners to get started with reading.

But for mature readers like myself, deciding what to read and why becomes a crucial step.

If I had this understanding two years back, I wouldn’t have picked up The 5 AM Club because I have no intention to wake up at five, and most importantly, it doesn’t guarantee any success for me.

The only thing that’s changed is how meticulously I decide my next read—picking up a book from an author who has the right domain expertise and experience and not the ones flowing around TikTok.

There have been books that have impacted me in more ways than I could imagine. They’ve expanded the way I think and live my life. These are the kind of books that I want to read.

I may not be a millionaire yet by reading a book, but I have indeed learned a great deal about finance. Likewise, you may not build a unicorn after reading a book, but you’ll learn how to take the first step and build a company.

There are still multiple things you can learn from books, even the bad ones.

Don’t let FOMO or cheap dopamine be the reason you pick your next read.


Last Week’s Finds

Lesson of the week

“Success is a scam.”

Context: Please wait for the next email. I have been working on this concept for a couple of months.

Book of the week

Heard 4-5 people I follow on Twitter talk about The Untethered Soul. I am only 10 pages in but I reckon it’s going to be revolutionary 😅

Video of the week

Legend Kobe Bryant talking about how failure doesn’t exist on his radar is something we all need to introduce into our system.

Quote of the week

"If you are ever tempted to look for outside approval, realize that you have compromised your integrity. If you need a witness, be your own."

-Epictetus

Song of the week

I feel this song from “The Little Mermaid" — exactly what’s happening with most of us. Howard Ashman was a genius. He’s written my most favorite Disney songs.

Creation of the week

  • I started sending this newsletter twice a week because I think all great things take time to create. And I wrote about how marinating my ideas have resulted in my best work. Read the article here.

  • I have been posting snippets on LinkedIn regularly. You can check them here.

I hope you enjoyed this email as much as I enjoyed writing it :)


Do spread the word by sharing it with your friends and have fun.

Until next time.

Love and light

Shreya