What does Mojo Mean?

This month I read the book Mojo How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It by Marshall Goldsmith, a well know Executive Coach.  I must admit that part of the reason I read it was that I had heard the word “mojo” but I wasn’t really sure what it meant.

Answer.com gives the definition from the American Heritage Dictionary:

  1. A magic charm or spell.
  2. An amulet, often a small flannel bag containing one or more magic items, worn by adherents of hoodoo or voodoo.
  3. Personal magnetism; charm.

Goldsmith’s definition is related to number 3 but deepens the meaning.  He says, “Mojo is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside.” So mojo really relates to doing meaningful work and feeling happy and satisfied.  It is what my coaching practice is about.

Since over 50% of the working population in the US says that they are not satisfied with their jobs, it is worth looking at the mistakes people make that can lead to what Goldsmith calls “Mojo Killers” such things as losing your job, getting passed over for a promotion, getting demoted, getting fired, etc.

Here are the 7 mistakes people make that can lead to losing your Mojo. (The first 6 are from the book by Goldsmith and the 7th is mine).

  1. Taking on more work than you can possibly handle.  When you are looking for work it is easy to be scattered in your approach.  It is important to have a strategic focus so you can say “no” to ideas that do not get you where you want to go.  It is important to say “no” to work that is not right for you, to a suggestion from a well meaning friend that takes you off track, and to that extra volunteer work that you know you know is not going to move your job search forward.  Taking on too much in our personal lives can also cause us to lose our mojo.  You won’t have that positive spirit when you are overcommitted in any part of your life.
  2. Hoping something will change when you know that it will not. I can remember being at AT&T when the company was in a tailspin.  I was sure I could wait it out even though every sign told me things were not going to change for a long time.   I remember telling a colleague I was trying to move around under the radar screen until it all blew over.  I was consciously squelching my positive spirit.
  3. Looking for a logical explanation when there isn’t one. Have you ever had the experience that someone much less qualified than you got a promotion or became more successful than you?  It doesn’t seem fair.  Decisions made by other human beings may not be fair or logical.  Looking for logic here is fruitless but if you continue to complain and stew about it, your positive spirit will be suppressed.
  4. Complaining about the boss. Complaining in general produces negative energy that dampens your positive spirit.  Most of us gripe occasionally about the boss but doing it constantly creates an unpleasant aura that affects you, your colleagues at work, and your family.
  5. Not making a change because of the investment you have already made. Frequently clients tell me that they spent so much money on college and graduate school that they feel they must use the degree they had earned even though they hate the work.   The investment can be time too.  Maybe you have been in a company for 5 to 10 years.  You’ve been comfortable in your job but the environment has changed.  You’d like to make a change but so much of you is invested in the firm that you stay put.  Feeling trapped by your circumstances is a mojo killer.
  6. Seeming to be two people I had a boss once who seemed perfectly nice most of the time but frequently she would blast one of us for something.  Her direct reports when they spoke of an attack said they got a “sulphuric acid facial”.  It was scary because you were never sure who she would be when you entered her office.  Part of that boss’ mojo comes from the reaction of other people.  Our distrust blocks her ability to radiate a positive spirit..  .
  7. Taking care of business alone Notice that mojo requires that you feel positive about the work and then that your positive spirit is felt by others. If you just radiate the spirit but no one feels it, you don’t get the positive support you need to re-energize.  Years ago a manager I knew told me she closed the door of her office and did her work every day conscientiously.  She was convinced that her boss would promote her based on her work ethic.  Her direct reports got no feedback from her and felt they had no relationship with their manager.  The consensus was she was humorless, peculiar and not a good boss.  The work she did was well done and she seemed to enjoy it.  If she had stepped out of her office a bit she might have found her mojo.

What mistakes do you see that are mojo killers?  Have you found your mojo?


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