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Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It – Book Review

by Marshall Goldsmith. New York: Hyperion. 184 pages.
Reviewed by Diane Byington, Ph.D.

mojoAre you burned out at work? Or, have you lost some enthusiasm and wish you could get it back? If so, check out this book. Marshall Goldsmith brings his long experience as an executive coach to the concept he describes as Mojo: that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside. In other words, we’ve got to feel enthusiastic toward what we are doing before we can send enthusiasm out for others to see. This book details how to increase your Mojo.

The most useful part of the book, for me, was his scorecard for measuring your Mojo. Goldsmith says we need to bring five qualities to an activity in order to do it well. These are: motivation, knowledge, ability, confidence, and authenticity. Likewise, five benefits we may receive from an activity include: happiness, reward, meaning, learning, and gratitude.

Goldsmith suggests we assess each of our activities during a typical day. He includes a sample Mojo scorecard, or you can download it at MojoTheBook.com. Give yourself a score of 1-10 for every activity in your day, with 10 being the highest. For example, you might rate a sales call to a favorite customer as an 8 on motivation (you like doing it, but it conflicts with a meeting that you will miss), 10 on knowledge (you are very comfortable with your knowledge of your company’s products), 10 on ability (you’ve done this before and know you do it well), 9 on confidence (a new boss will be at the meeting whom you’ve never met), and a 10 on authenticity (you are genuinely enthusiastic about engaging in this sales call).

Compare this to, uh, answering emails. You might hate to sit at your desk and answer emails instead of interacting with people. Thus, you would give a 3 to motivation (you have to drag yourself to your computer), an 8 to knowledge (you understand what you need to do, for the most part), a 10 to ability (you have the skills to do the job well), a 9 for confidence (you are sure of yourself), and a 2 to authenticity (you have no enthusiasm for this activity).

The next part of the scorecard is to look at what the activity brings to you. Rate each activity on happiness (being engaged in the activity makes you happy), reward (the activity provides material or emotional rewards that are important to you), meaning (the results of the activity are meaningful to you), learning (the activity helps you to learn and grow), and gratitude (overall, you are grateful for being able to do this activity and believe it is a great use of your time).

The information you receive from completing the scorecard can give you insight about what part of your day increases your Mojo and what part decreases it. Clearly, the person in this example hates doing emails but loves talking to people. But answering emails is a part of the job. Based on this information, if you have some control over your day’s activities, you might reward yourself with a walk around the office after you’ve spent an hour answering emails. Or you might try to do as much business on the phone as possible, instead of relying on emails. You get the idea.

Which brings us to the next part of the book: change. Most people say they want to change, but inertia holds them back. Goldsmith suggests asking yourself two questions about any activity: How much long-term benefit or meaning do I experience from this activity? How much short-term satisfaction or happiness do I experience in this activity? Remember, it’s your life. Instead of feeling like a victim when you do an activity you hate, try to make the best of the situation. If you hate meetings, for example, but you have to participate in them, try to make the meetings as meaningful and enjoyable as possible. You might be able to do this by observing your colleagues more closely than ever, or by asking questions you’ve been dying to ask, or by creatively generating ideas that become the inspiration for future progress. Your options are not as limited as you think, especially when you consider the options in light of the two questions.

Goldsmith then discusses the building blocks of Mojo: identity (who do you think you are?), achievement (what have you done lately?), reputation (who do other people think you are?), and acceptance (when can you let go?). The last section of the book is a Mojo Tool Kit: techniques that will either help you change You (how you think or feel, what you say – what is under your control) or It (any influencing force in your life that is not you, such as other people, a job, a place, etc.). These techniques are not easily summarized, but if you’ve read through the rest of the book, you’ll be entertained and creatively challenged to find ways to integrate them into your life.

At the end, Goldsmith confesses that this is a self help book. I hadn’t really thought of it as such, but it makes sense. After all, we are responsible for making our lives what we want them to be. And that is the main message of the book. It’s always good to be reminded.

– Diane Byington is a writer and coach who consults with The Booth Company.

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