Mojo: How to Get it, How to Keep it, How to Get It Back If You Lose It
by Marshall Goldsmith, Hyperion Books, 224 pages, $26.99, Hardcover, February 2010, ISBN 9781401323271
There are people on this planet who are scary smart, people who look at the world differently and help us see our own lives in a clearer light. Seth Godin is one. Marshall Goldsmith, a highly sought-after speaker and executive coach, is another. Goldsmith has written many books, but What Got You Here, Won't Get You There
from 2007 was a stand-out.
is Goldsmith's latest work. While mojo is a ubiquitous word, here Goldsmith defines it as "that positive spirit towards what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside." The way he refers to mojo reminds me a bit of Flow
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Except "flow" is a strictly internal, "in the zone" state of being, while Goldsmith's mojo moment is "the moment when we do something that's purposeful, powerful, and positive and the rest of the world recognizes it." Like Csikszentmihalyi. Goldsmith believes mojo is something that can be learned and continuously achieved once we have the right tools.
Goldsmith believes that your ability to get your mojo going is impacted by four factors: identity, who you think you are; achievement, what have you done; reputation, what others think of you; and acceptance, knowing what you can change (and letting go of the rest). I found Goldsmith's approach to identity enlightening because many of the business books we sell focus on ways to change your behavior in order to change your circumstance. Goldsmith asserts that if you don't first change how you think of yourself, any behavioral changes will feel false and fail to last. And his section on acceptance is a particularly hard, but imperative lesson. How many of us have given up on a friendship due to some small grievance instead of, as Goldsmith encourages, valuing what a friend gives us in total despite their sometimes-inconveniencing quirks?
Goldsmith is an interesting kind of storyteller. He doesn't tell stories that are highly detailed with visual or emotional descriptions. But, at the same time, with casual language and a singular intuitiveness about people, Goldsmith's stories about how people lose and gain their mojo keeps you turning pages like the best kind of novel.