Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mojo by Marshall Goldsmith

Mojo, as used by Marshall Goldsmith as the concept and title of his book, is not a magical ability, though when you have you may feel supernaturally potent. Mojo is a combination of identity, achievement, reputation and acceptance. That is

-Who am I?
-What are my worthy accomplishments?
-Who do others think I am?
-Am I enjoying life now?

If you have satisfying answers to these questions, you probably have good mojo. If you lack satisfying answers, or you have no answers, you probably lack mojo and it shows in your performance, your relationships and the way you feel about yourself.

As you can see from these concepts, Goldsmith’s idea of mojo is a result of our thoughts, actions, and relationships. It is not a thing in itself, but it arises from living in a way that we find to be happy and meaningful.

Mojo is not constant. It can be lost and found. It can be too easily lost through bad habits, selfishness, bad relationships, and refusal to adapt.


Goldsmith devotes a chapter to how one can lose mojo, but much of the book is about keeping or regaining it. For each element (identity, achievement, reputation and acceptance), Goldsmith describes three or four strategies to build mojo. Some of these resonated with me more than others, as I suspect would be true of most readers. With 15 strategies, readers are likely to find at least two or three they can use. Sometimes one good idea put into practice is enough to make a great improvement.

You can have great mojo in one part of life, and less in another. Goldsmith distinguishes between professional and personal mojo. Ideally, you spend as much of your time as you can on things that are high in both types of mojo.

Sometimes you may have high professional mojo and low personal, or vice-versa. Goldsmith presents the option of changing “it” (your job or situation) or changing “you.” He doesn’t argue for one over the other. He includes examples of people who improved there mojo from both camps, those who changed their work and those who changed themselves. If you understand yourself well (identity), you should be able to make a good decision about what to change. Reading the chapter on this subject, with its examples, may give you an idea of how to approach it. It’s not an either/or choice. If you have low in either professional or personal mojo, you can make changes that lead to high mojo in both areas.

Goldsmith, Marshall, with Mark Reiter. Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It. New York: MJF Books, 2009.