Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter
CHAPTER 1 Mojo, You, and Me
Mojo. It is the moment when we do something that’s purposeful, powerful, and positive, and the rest of the world recognizes it. Mojo plays a vital role in our pursuit of happiness and meaning because it is about achieving two simple goals: loving what you do and showing it. Mojo is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside. Four vital ingredients need to be combined for you to have great Mojo.
The first is your identity. Who do you think you are?
The second element is achievement. What have you done lately? We will look at achievements from two perspectives: (1) What we bring to the task, and (2) What the task gives to us.
The third element is reputation. Who do other people think you are?
The fourth element to building Mojo is acceptance. What can you change, and what is beyond your control?
CHAPTER 2 Measuring Your Mojo
we’re dealing with an activity or a task—as opposed to a state of mind or a situation. When we are measuring our Mojo, we do so in the immediate present, not in the recent past or vague future. They love what they are doing when they are doing it. They are finding happiness and meaning in the present.
Five qualities that we need to bring to an activity in order to do it well are: motivation, knowledge, ability, confidence, and authenticity. Likewise, five benefits we may receive from the activity after doing a job well are: happiness, reward, meaning, learning, and gratitude.
CHAPTER 3 The Mojo Paradox
When I work with successful people to help them figure out “what really matters” in their lives, five key variables emerge (not in order of importance): Health Wealth Relationships Happiness Meaning
Our default response in life is not to experience happiness. Our default response in life is not to experience meaning. Our default response in life is to experience inertia. In other words, our most common everyday process—the thing we do more often than anything else—is continue to do what we’re already doing.
We continue doing what we’re doing even when we no longer want to do it. Very few people achieve positive, losting change without ongoing follow-up. The key is measurement and follow-up, in all their myriad forms.
All you’re doing is changing how you approach any activity. You are changing your mindset. You’re no longer defaulting to inertia—i.e., continuing to do what you’ve been doing. You’re electing to be more mindful, more alert, and more awake.
CHAPTER 4 Identity: Who Do You Think You Are?
future self—not the person we think we were but the person we want to become.
1. Remembered Identity In the lower-right-hand corner, where self and past collide, lies our Remembered Identity.
2. Reflected Identity In the lower-left-hand corner, where the past and other people’s opinions meet, is Reflected Identity. Even if your Reflected Identity is accurate, it doesn’t have to be predictive. We can all change!
3. Programmed Identity In the upper-left-hand corner is Programmed Identity, which is the result of other people sending messages about who you are or will become in the future. “Semper Fi”. Your Programmed Identity has many sources. It can become a convenient scapegoat for our behavioral mistakes.
4. Created Identity In the upper-right-hand corner of our matrix, where self and future meet, is your Created Identity. Our Created Identity is the identity that we decide to create for ourselves. We cannot wish physical reality away with “positive thinking.” On the other hand, I am amazed at what we can change if we do not artificially limit ourselves. When we define ourselves by saying we are deficient at some activity, we tend to create the reality that proves our definition.
Our identities are remembered, reflected, programmed, and created. If your present identity is fine with you, just work on becoming an even better version of who you are.
CHAPTER 5 Achievement: What Have You Done Lately?
We tend to gauge our achievements by using two differing criteria. On the one hand, there are the accomplishments that make others aware of our ability and result in their recognizing us. On the other hand, there are the accomplishments that only we are aware of, related to our own abilities, that make us feel good about ourselves. Both are legitimate in their own way.
In the “best of all worlds,” the two types of achievement could be the same—what we do that impresses others makes us feel great about ourselves. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Frankly, few people are paying attention to what they’re doing. Doing humanitarian work is what they do, with or without anyone else watching, because it helps others and, in turn, makes them feel good about the life they’ve chosen.
A Mojo crisis can sometimes arise when there is a disconnect between the two criteria we use to measure our achievement—when what others feel about our accomplishments is not in sync with what we feel about them ourselves. Think of your own definition of “achievement.” What matters to you? What matters to the world? Be honest with yourself. Look in the mirror. Make peace with your true motivations.
People also go too far back in time, digging up an achievement that happened so long ago that it’s no longer relevant and may even qualify as ancient history. A lot of us tend to cite our most recent achievement, as if an event has more weight or significance because it is freshest in our minds. Psychologists call this “recency bias.” Chip away at the false assumptions that distort your achievements and you’ll get a much clearer picture of what you’ve done lately.
CHAPTER 6 Reputation: Who Do People Think You Are?
Your reputation is people’s recognition—or rejection—of your identity and achievement. You cannot create your reputation by yourself (the rest of the world, by definition, always has something to say about it). But you can influence it.
We often do not know what our reputation is. We’re fairly clear-eyed about what we think of other people. But when it comes to what they think of us, we can live in the dark. One of the most pernicious impulses among successful people is our overwhelming need to prove how smart we are. So many of us are such poor listeners. “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all”.
The first thing to know is that your reputation is rarely if ever formed by a one-time catastrophic event—people can be extremely forgiving. Paradoxically, people can be less generous after a one-time triumphal event. Reputations are formed by a sequence of actions that resemble one another. Because we don’t keep track of our repeat behavior, we never see the patterns that others see. These are the patterns that shape our reputation—and yet we’re largely oblivious to them and, in turn, to our reputation.
The truth is, reputation doesn’t happen overnight. In the same way that one event can’t form your reputation, one corrective gesture can’t reform it either. You need a sequence of consistent, similar actions to begin the rebuilding process. I have to admit that being “on message” is one that I’ve come to respect. I tell my clients it’s the easiest, most effective way to seize control of the impression you’re trying to make—and maintain it. That’s the best thing about creating a reputation for yourself: Do it right the first time and you may never have to change your ways.
CHAPTER 7 Acceptance: When Can You Let Go?
The Great Western Disease afflicts anyone who says or thinks the phrase, “I’ll be happy when…” And then fills in the blank. “I’ll be happy when…” is a very Western way of thinking. We believe that achieving a goal will somehow make us happy, conveniently ignoring the fact that the goal line always moves slightly beyond our reach. The Great Western Disease is that we fixate on the future at the expense of enjoying the life we’re living now.
When a perceived injustice happens and nothing can be done to turn back the clock, I do a pretty good job of just accepting it rather than whining and complaining about it. I can let it go. When everything around us seems confusing, acceptance reminds us what really matters. I am just suggesting that you should change what you can and “let go” of what you cannot change.
CHAPTER 8 Mojo Killers
When people go from Mojo to Nojo, it’s usually because of a series of simple, hard-to-spot mistakes that lead up to the humiliating result—mistakes like these:
2. Waiting for the Facts to Change
They’re refusing to accept that the situation has already changed dramatically—and it’s unlikely that things will go back to the way they were. It’s just not the way history works. When the facts are not to your liking, ask yourself, “What path would I take if I knew that the situation would not get better?” Then get ready to do that.
3. Looking for Logic in All the Wrong Places
Humans, in fact, are profoundly illogical. Yet we devote many of our waking hours to trying to find logic in situations where no logic exists. Our minds need order and fairness and equity and justice. But much of life is neither fair nor just. That’s a problem for many of us—and a Mojo killer. If you focus on making a positive difference, instead of just being satisfied with feeling “objective,” you will benefit both your company and your career. The next time you pride yourself on your superior “logic” and damage relationships with the people you need at work—or the people you love at home—ask yourself, “How logical was that?”
4. Bashing the Boss
If you really have a problem with bosses, talk to them about it. If you feel that you cannot talk with them, leave.
5. Refusing to Change Because of “Sunk Costs”
It explains why when an investment loses half its value, rather than cut our losses and get out now, we hang on until the investment is worth practically nothing. We persist in error because we cannot admit error. We all have sunk costs in our lives—because if we’re remotely successful it wasn’t all by luck. We had to invest a big piece of ourselves in our work. That “investment” may have stopped paying off without us being aware of it.
6. Confusing the Mode You’re In
Successful people operate in two modes: professional and relaxed. Our Mojo is at risk when we shift from professional to relaxed mode without making everyone aware of the shift—probably because we’re not aware of it ourselves.
CHAPTER 9 Four Pointless Arguments
1. Let Me Keep Talking
It can be very hard for smart, committed people—especially stubborn people—to just “let it go.” When we keep “fighting after the bell has rung,” we can start damaging our reputation and, ultimately, our Mojo.
2. I Had It Rougher Than You
It’s pointless, almost perverse bragging—and what does the “winner” of the argument really win?
3. Why Did You Do That?
People do things that annoy or enrage us, and it’s almost impossible to get to the bottom of why they did them, yet we waste hours trying.
4. It’s Not Fair
It doesn’t mean they are right, or fair, or deeply care about our feelings. It only means that some other person decides—and we don’t. Arguing that inequity won’t change the outcome.
CHAPTER 10 That Job Is Gone!
Here’s the problem: Those jobs don’t exist anymore. This is the new reality not only for blue-collar workers like Jared, but for all workers, young people just entering the workforce in rich countries as well as veteran professionals. The biggest factor is globalization.
Another factor is the dramatically increased gap in compensation between the top people in an organization and everyone else.
A third factor is decreased job security. a “hollowing out” of the middle class. The shortage of mid-level jobs has only widened the gap between society’s economic winners and losers.
Another factor is the steady erosion in the past twenty years of company-funded guaranteed health-care and retirement security.
A fifth factor is the global financial crisis that began in 2008.
The sixth and perhaps most lethal factor, ironically, is new technology.
The result is a new breed of professional employee, more driven and hardworking yet more insecure than ever before. In this new world, Mojo is both harder to attain and more important to keep.
CHAPTER 11 Change You or Change It
You can change either You or It. By You, I mean how you think, how you feel, what you say—basically everything about you that’s under your control. It, on the other hand, refers to any influencing forces in your life that are not you. You see that in all work and personal situations, Mojo is a function of the relationship between who you are (i.e., You) and your situation (i.e., It).
It is your life. If your Mojo is suffering, no one can make the “you vs. it” decision for you. My only suggestion is that you become clear on your own values and make a thoughtful decision. Like tools, they don’t work unless you grab them in your hands and use them. They are:
Establish Criteria That Matter to You: Setting ground rules for your life can start you on the path toward great Mojo.
Find Out Where You’re Living: “Where” is defined by how we balance short-term satisfaction and long-term benefit at work and at home.
Be the Optimist in the Room: There’s power in “going for it” and not being afraid to look foolish.
Take Away One Thing: How would life look if you eliminated something big from your daily schedule?
Rebuild One Brick at a Time: A wall is built one brick at a time. So’s your Mojo.
Live Your Mission in the Small Moments Too: The small moments in our lives can make big statements about who we are.
Swim in the Blue Water: A new way to win can be to change the game!
When to Stay, When to Go: It’s better to jump than be pushed.
Hello, Good-bye: How to say “hello” and prepare for “good-bye.”
Adopt a Metrics System: How personally created stats reveal what you need to know.
Reduce This Number: It’s the percentage of time we spend on boasting or criticizing—by ourselves and others.
Influence Up as Well as Down: Turn important decision makers into your best customers.
Name It, Frame It, Claim It: Naming what we do can help us enhance how we do it.
Give Your Friends a Lifetime Pass: Friends can be more forgiving than we deserve—give them a break.
TOOL #1: Establish Criteria That Matter to You
A lot of us, especially if we work for other people rather than for ourselves, have forgotten that we have the choice to set our own goals. The best thing about having criteria is that it forces you to be precise—in what you do and how you hold yourself accountable afterward. It’s the difference between saying, “I’d be happier if I spent more time with my kids” and “I am going to spend at least four hours a week with each of my kids.”
When you articulate a criterion for leading your life, it dictates many of the major choices that follow, closing some doors but opening others. It doesn’t matter what area you apply criteria to, as long as it helps you to identify what will make you find happiness and meaning. Before you can establish or regain your Mojo, you first have to imagine what it looks like and what it takes to get there. If you write it down, that’s your criteria. It’s as good a place to start as anything I can imagine.
TOOL #2: Find Out Where You’re “Living”
Lot of us aren’t fully aware of where we “live” emotionally all day long, especially in relation to the meaning and happiness we derive from our work. In analyzing our relationship to our work—how we’re spending it professionally and personally—all of us, consciously or not, run everything through two filters: short-term satisfaction (or happiness) and long-term benefit (or meaning). Both have value.
Surviving is our term for activities that score low on short-term satisfaction and low on long-term benefit. Typically, these are activities that we feel we have to do in order just to get by.
Stimulating describes activities that score high in short-term satisfaction but low in long-term benefit. Watching TV, movies, or athletic contests. They may provide short-term satisfaction but they have little potential for long-term benefit.
Sacrificing describes activities that score low in short-term satisfaction but high in long-term benefit. A more common example is setting aside an hour a day to exercise (when you don’t feel like it) to improve your long-term health.
Sustaining is for activities that produce moderate amounts of short-term satisfaction and lead to moderate long-term benefits. Responding to professional emails might be a classic sustaining activity in the Internet age.
At home, the day-to-day activities of living may often fall into the “sustaining” category. short-term satisfaction and long-term benefits. These are activities that we love to do and get great benefit from doing. We simultaneously find happiness and meaning. At home, a parent may be spending hours with a child. A life spent primarily in succeeding mode is a life filled with both accomplishment and joy. The point is, two people engaged in the same activity can have completely different perceptions of what the activity means to them.
People who find happiness and meaning at work tend to be the same people that find happiness and meaning at home! In other words, our Mojo is coming from inside ourselves. For the majority of people, the only way to increase overall satisfaction with life (both at work and outside work) is to increase both happiness and meaning.
TOOL #3: Be the Optimist in the Room
Why do people give up?
1. It takes longer than we thought. Our need for instant gratification trumps our patience and discipline.
2. It’s more difficult than we thought. Improvement is hard. If it were easy, we’d already be better.
3. We have other things to do. Distractions tempt us to take our eyes off the ball.
4. We don’t get the expected reward. We lose weight but still can’t get a date. We put in the extra effort, but the boss doesn’t notice or care. This creates frustration rather than inspiration to persist.
5. We declare victory too soon. We lose a few pounds and say, “Let’s order pizza.”
6. We have to do it forever. It’s not enough that we quit smoking. We can’t have another cigarette for the rest of time. Maintenance is tough! It’s a crisis of optimism. You lose your initial burst of optimism, and optimism is the fuel that drives the engine of change. The optimist in the room always has more influence than anyone else.
Psychologists call this “optimism bias,” and it’s one of the more well-researched concepts in behavioral economics. When people judge their chances of experiencing a good outcome—landing a big account, getting promoted, having a successful marriage, making a good financial investment—they estimate their odds to be better than average. When they consider the chances of something bad happening—losing a big account, getting fired, getting divorced—they assume odds lower than what they estimate for others.
Optimism bias inflates our self-confidence. That’s the downside of optimism bias. We may see everything that could go wrong with the other person’s idea while remaining blind to what could go wrong with ours.
TOOL #4: Take Away One Thing
In a world where addition is the customary method of rewarding ourselves—more money, more things, more friends, more productivity, more fun—subtraction is not the most obvious success strategy, or the first tool we reach for in our Mojo Tool Kit. But it can reshape our world in ways we cannot imagine.
TOOL #5: Rebuild One Brick at a Time
“It’s not about you. It’s about the people around you. They need twelve to eighteen months to accept that you have changed.” You’re aiming for serial achievements. In order to show people who you are now, you can’t rely on one-off gestures. You have to string successes together. If you provide people with continuity, however trivial or feeble, they will notice.
First rule: Stop trying to be an oracle. Stop waiting for more information or for better circumstances before you get started. We never have all the information we need; circumstances are rarely perfect.
Second rule: Move quickly. One brick at a time isn’t a license to go slowly. People pay attention to someone who’s in a hurry.
Third rule: Say two no’s for every yes. You never want to turn down a chance to get involved in something good, but in my experience, dead ends outnumber opportunities in almost any walk of life.
Fourth rule: It pays to advertise. People have preconceptions about you. They not only filter everything you do through those preconceptions, but they are constantly looking for evidence that confirms them. They’ll be on the alert for evidence of your on-time behavior rather than confirmation that you’re always late. That little tweak in perception, created solely by telling people that you’re trying to change, can make all the difference.
TOOL #6: Live Your Mission in the Small Moments Too
You don’t write a mission statement. You live it and breathe it. What do you want to achieve and how do you want to achieve it? When you have a mission, you give yourself a purpose—and that adds clarity to all the actions and decisions that follow. There’s an underestimated value to articulating your mission: It focuses you, points you in a new direction, alters your behavior, and as a result, changes other people’s perception of you.
TOOL #7: Swim in the Blue Water
We are human beings, not SBUs (strategic business units). But there’s some appeal in the idea that we can find a “blue water” alternative as we shape our personal aspirations. I found my “blue water” in the middle of a red ocean, not beyond it. I didn’t create a new market; I offered a “new and improved” product to the existing market.
TOOL #8: When to Stay, When to Go
Consider your long-term Mojo. Can you find more happiness and meaning by changing the situation? Can you find more happiness and meaning by changing yourself? What are your real alternatives? Conduct a Mojo analysis—make your decision—accept the tradeoffs—and get on with life.
TOOL #9: Hello, Good-bye
Few events create more immediate damage to your Mojo than having to depart from a job that you love. But it doesn’t have to be quite that bad, not if you employ one or more of these exit strategies:
1. Have a Pre-Exit Strategy
The vertical line in this matrix tracks how you’re perceived at work. It’s your honest assessment of whether you are riding a wave of success or feel that you’ve fallen behind. Is your career trajectory pointing up or down? The horizontal line lays out your options. Leaving a job is either your choice or someone else’s. The resulting four quadrants identify the reasons behind most departures from a job. Which quadrant do you belong in? Are you considered an asset or a threat?
2. The Three Envelopes
Do your best to “read the tea leaves.” Don’t panic when you are new, yet don’t get lost in your own ego. It can be tough out there. If you think your time may be coming to an end, it probably is. Leave the company (on positive terms)—before the company leaves you (on negative terms).
3. Stop the Identity Theft
When you look for a new position, focus on what you can contribute to the new firm—not just what you did at the old firm. If your old firm failed, be prepared for the possibility of “moving down”—at least in the short-term. If you get your Mojo back, and prove what you can do in the new firm, you can get back to where you were.
4. How Much of Your Reputation Is Really Yours?
The flip side of having your identity so indelibly linked to your job is overestimating how much of your good standing among people is due to who you are rather than who you work for. It’s a common error. When we work for a first-rate organization with enormous prestige in its industry, much of that prestige automatically attaches to us simply because we can say we work there. But it’s not really our prestige—and it’s not permanent. It can disappear the moment we leave the organization.
Keep this in mind when you plan a hasty or angry departure—and you currently have a good job. Ask yourself: How solid is my reputation? And is it solid because of what I’ve done or who I work for? The answer can make all the difference.
TOOL #10: Adopt a Metrics System
This is how success happens: a lot of know-how abetted by a little know-who. A personal metric is any set of data or information that we assemble to help us understand a situation. Personal metrics are warmer and fuzzier data, coming into play when we need to understand emotions and feelings and relationships. We love the data when they deliver good news. We ignore them when the news is not to our liking. Giving up on metrics is always a part of giving up on change. Measuring the “bad numbers” is precisely what we need to do more often. Once you have your personal metric, no matter how alarming the data, you’ll know what to do next.
TOOL #11: Reduce This Number
according to thousands of respondents from around the world, two-thirds of the “stuff” we discuss with our coworkers involves either boasting or criticizing, by us or someone else. when we talk about how smart, special, or wonderful we are, we learn nothing. When we talk about how stupid, inept, or bad someone else is, we learn nothing. When we listen while someone else does this, we learn nothing. Reduce this number.
TOOL #12: Influence Up as Well as Down
Knowledge workers are people who, because of their years of education and training, know more about what they’re doing than their managers do. But it could be any highly skilled specialist who feels superior to or unappreciated by the “generalist” above him or her. Every decision in the world is made by the person who has the power to make that decision—not the “right” person, or the “smartest” person, or the “most qualified” person, and in most cases not you. If you influence this decision maker, you will make a positive difference.
If you do not influence this person, you will not make a positive difference. Make peace with this. You will have a better life! And, you will make more of a positive difference in your organization and you will be happier. you should neither take your manager for granted nor resent his or her position as your boss. In many interactions, you’re the supplier; your manager is the customer. Leaders who can sell and effectively “influence up” are much more likely to get the resources and support that their direct reports need for successful goal achievement.
TOOL #13: Name It, Frame It, Claim It
If you want to improve your understanding of a situation, give it a name. Naming helps us learn, make sense, and take control. Jargon is just another name for prefabricated naming. Its job is the same: to frame a situation in a new light so we can recognize it and deal with it.
TOOL #14: Give Your Friends a Lifetime Pass
How many people in your life have you given a lifetime pass? A more probing question: Do you think the number is too high or too low? If we can be that forgiving with family members, why can’t we extend the same level of acceptance to people who, when all is said and done, have demonstrably made our lives better? To maintain great Mojo, make a list of all of the people who have significantly helped you have a great life. Let them know that your life is better off because you have known them.
CHAPTER 16 Going Beyond Self-Help
We don’t just have to rely on self-help! That small obligation keeps us focused. We can’t accept that someone else might know more than we do about how we can change for the better. Don’t let your ego block you from your goals. Start seeing every challenge as a choice between (a) I can do it by myself and (b) I may be able to do it better with help. Once you accept that you are judged more on the result than on how many hands played a part in achieving it, you’ll make the right choice.