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A Lesson in Mojo from Marshall Goldsmith

Mojo is a folkloric word that refers to the physical manifestation of a supernatural force. MOJO is also the title of a brand-new book by my friend and pre-eminent executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith. “Mojo,” as Marshall writes, “is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside.”

Mojo is a folkloric word that refers to the physical manifestation of a supernatural force. MOJO is also the title of a brand-new book by my friend and pre-eminent executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith. “Mojo,” as Marshall writes, “is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside.”

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Consider mojo a form of self-motivation that spurs us onward to achieve for ourselves as well as for others. There four aspects to this positive force, two are focused on the inner self and two are focused on our outer self. That split between what we are inside and how we are perceived makes the concept of mojo useful for anyone seeking to improve as well as to make a positive difference.

Let’s examine the four keys, each of which is defined by a straightforward but evocative question:

Identity: Who you think you are? Self-awareness becomes with an understanding of how you view yourself. The operative word in this question is think; that is, how do you perceive yourself. The book explores four aspects of identity – remembered, reflected, programmed and created. Understanding how each attribute affects your self-understanding provides a good handle on getting to know yourself better.

Achievement: What have you done lately? The book draws sharp distinction between we think we achieve and what others think we achieve. If the two are not in parallel, we feel out of sync. The challenge becomes in finding meaning and satisfaction in what we do and harmonizing it with what we are challenged to do. No easy task.

Reputation: What do other people think you are? A foundation of executive coaching is helping individuals see themselves as others see them. The book postulates that reputation is the combination of identify and achievement as seen by others. Lucky for you if your self image matches your public persona! But if you are like most of us, you have work to do to make certain that who you are and what you think you do matches the impact that you are having on others.

Acceptance: What can you change, and what is beyond your control? Before you can answer this question, make certain as Marshall asserts, you can dispense with the “I’ll be happy when…” statement. That is, I will be satisfied when I am a millionaire, my house is bigger, my weight is less, or my mortgage is paid off. Goals are good, but they can sometimes prevent us from achieving reconciliation with our inner selves. The challenge arises from learning what you can change (your behavior) and what you cannot change (e.g. other people). Acceptance becomes critical; otherwise you will cause yourself (and others around you) much unhappiness.

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MOJO is an easy read but don’t be fooled. It is a real head-cracker. Each of the four keys is augmented by a full toolkit that provides roadmaps for readers to follow to develop a stronger identity, achieve more effectively, ensure their reputation, and come to terms with self and life. Throughout the book are questions that challenge readers to reflect on what is important to them and how they can achieve their aims.

For me an important aspect of the book comes together in the story of two rival editors, Lily and Sarah who were both in running to become editor in chief of their publication. Both women were capable and respected and that is why both were considered for the top job. When challenged to produce a new look for the magazine, Lily did it her way – alone; and Sarah did it her way – collegially.

The winner of the contest will be left to readers to discover but what is important to know is that self-help is not just about self. You can enlist the guidance of others to help you become more self-aware and ultimately more effective in what it is you want to achieve.

As we learn throughout MOJO, how you will change your life and how you interact with others as an individual, an employee and/or a leader is your decision. The challenge for all of us remains to become a positive spirit for self and others.

 

John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership development consultant, executive coach, author, and speaker. In 2009, Top Leadership Gurus named John one of the world’s top 25 leadership experts. John’s newest book is Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up (Amacom 2009). Readers are welcome to visit John’s website, www.johnbaldoni.com