By Marshall Goldsmith, with Mark Reiter,
Hyperion, 205 pages, $34.99
"Got my mojo working," Muddy Waters sang. Even among people who don't quite know what mojo is, executive coach Marshall Goldsmith will attract many readers with the title of his latest book, Mojo: How To Get It, How To Keep It, and How To Get It Back If You Lose It.
Sports fans might connect mojo to momentum in a game, and Mr. Goldsmith does offer the example of a basketball team, seemingly defeated at half time, coming back to later win.
But he stresses the transformation in poise, confidence and bearing for both teams that accompanies that flip in momentum.
He says mojo is the moment when we do something that's purposeful, powerful, and positive - and the rest of the world recognizes it. It's about happiness and meaning in life.
"Mojo is the positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside," he notes in the book written with agent Mark Reiter.
Our mojo is apparent when the positive feelings toward what we are doing come from within and are evident for others to see, so there is no gap between the positive way we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived by others.
To help understand mojo, contemplate the opposite: "nojo."
You have seen it in people who have a negative attitude toward what they are doing that starts from the inside and radiates to everyone around them.
They play the victim instead of taking responsibility, stay in place rather than marching forward, try to do only the minimum, rather than run the extra mile, are uninterested, rather than curious, and indifferent, rather than caring.
Mr. Goldsmith works with top executives to change such behaviour.
With that in mind, he identifies four vital ingredients that need to be combined in order for you to have - and benefit from - mojo:
Who do you think you are? You need a firm handle on your identity to understand why you gain - or lose - mojo. The issue is not how others perceive you, but how you perceive yourself, he stresses.
To alter behaviour, we often need to change our identity - our self-perception, he advises.
Chatting with Bono of the Irish band U2, he picked up on the following identities as the singer described his life: Regular guy, a bloke from Dublin who liked to hang out with his mates; musician; rock star; and latest, humanitarian.
"He did not let his definition of who he was - attractive as the identity of a rock star may be - limit his potential of what else he could become," Mr. Goldsmith notes.
What have you done lately? What accomplishments have meaning for you and an effect on others? In studying achievements, focus on what you bring to the task and what the task gives you, he advises. Be sure not to overestimate - or underestimate - your achievement. And consider whether you are succeeding in areas that are important to you while letting go of achievement that doesn't bring happiness and meaning to your life.
Who do people think you are? How do people respond to the identity you have carved out for yourself and your achievements? You may not agree with others' assessments, but you need to be aware of them -and how you are going to change your reputation.
What can you change about the people and events around you, and what is beyond your control? We often need to accept things that we may dislike, to find the positive spirit in our lives and positive actions that Mr. Goldsmith is talking about. Instead of whining about being passed over for a promotion or some other business setback, take it in stride, and move on.
Mr. Goldsmith highlights a mojo paradox: While we may want it, the reality is that our default response is not to experience happiness or meaning, and to accept inertia. He asks you to evaluate your activities over a day on a 1 to 10 scale (with 10 being the highest), asking two simple questions: How much long-term benefit or meaning did I experience from this activity, and how much long-term satisfaction or happiness did I experience in it? Then try to change your life so there are fewer low-score activities.
He also offers a 14-tool kit to help you gain more mojo. They include:
Establish criteria that matter to you
When people lose mojo, it's often because they are rootless, without clear goals. Many people who work for others forget that they can set their own goals, rather than relying totally on the criteria of others.
Rebuild one brick at a time
When we lose our mojo, the thought of restoring it can seem overwhelming. Don't try to do everything at once. Apply yourself to serial achievements, rebuilding one brick at a time. That also gives your colleagues time to adjust to your new self.
Know when to stay and when to go
If you're not in the right job, you have to be honest with yourself and face the critical decision of whether to leave for somewhere else, where your mojo can be more pronounced, or whether you can change things where you are.
Give your friends
a lifetime pass
If you have a friend or colleague who has helped you in significant ways but has a flaw that drives you nuts - for example, always being late for your lunches together - accept it. Think of all the good things he or she has done for you, and let go of the less significant irritants.
Mr. Goldsmith's book is well-organized and practical, with lots of tools that can help you be more successful and happier in life.
In Addition: Consultant Seth Godin's books are usually a joy to read but his latest, Linchpin (Portfolio, 244 pages, $32.50), is, unfortunately, a disappointment.
His premise is fine: We have moved into an economy where more and more of us are dispensable to the large firms we work for, which can replace us with machines or offshore workers. To compensate, we must become indispensable, finding ways that companies will prize our efforts. Similarly, our companies must become indispensable.
The solution is to become like artists, creative and inspired, willing to give of ourselves freely, without concern about what will come back to us. In time, we will be rewarded for that freely given activity.
An artist must paint or draw something because of what's inside himself. Similarly, you must find a similar zest and creativity to go beyond expectations and find ways to help your customers, for which you will be rewarded. Think of the waiter who loves his or her job and takes care of customers flawlessly because he or she is intent on giving them an enjoyable time they will long remember. In return, the tips will flow to thank the server for his or her artistry.
The book is written in a series of short bursts, like Mr. Godin's popular blog postings, which are sometimes more evocative than clear, and they explore the notion of being a linchpin in a rather circuitous way.
It's all quite hazy. There are no tools, but many clever insights and a lot of inspirational writing, urging you to become a linchpin.
The mojo scorecard
Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith asks you to take one of your most important activities on a typical day of your life, and rate yourself on each of the following 10 questions to determine how much mojo the activity has. Use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
Professional mojo: What I bring to this activity
1. Motivation: You want to do a great job in this activity.
2. Knowledge: You understand what to do and how to do it.
3. Ability: You have the skills needed to do the task well.
4. Confidence: You are sure of yourself when performing this activity.
5. Authenticity: You are genuine in your level of enthusiasm for engaging in this activity.
Personal mojo: What the activity brings to me
6. Happiness: Being engaged in this activity makes you happy.
7. Reward: This activity provides material or emotional rewards that are important to you.
8. Meaning: The results of this activity are meaningful to you.
9. Learning: This activity helps you to learn and grow.
10. Gratitude: Overall you feel grateful for being able to do this activity and believe that it is a good use of your time.
Source: Mojo, by Marshall Goldsmith, with Mark Reiter