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Mojo by Marshall Goldsmith book summary

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

 Mojo is a self-help book for leaders and individuals for leading an effective and successful personal and professional life. In this book, Marshall Goldsmith deals in detail with Mojo – a positive engagement, a feeling of happiness that radiates from within and spreads outwards; how to develop it, how to manage it and if one is not presently having it or lost it – how to get it? The author opines that Mojo is not something that comes out naturally; we need to work towards developing it. The opposite of Mojo is Nojo – with no joy, negativity or cynicism. 


In an effort to start creating the Mojo, Marshall advises to analyze our daily activities from two perspectives – how meaningful they are in terms of purpose in life and future; and how happy you feel while doing those activities – are they draining energy or radiating energy? Marshall provides in the book and spend significant amount of reading in a Mojo Scorecard which helps us find how much mojo we presently have. There are two kinds of mojo – personal mojo and professional mojo. As the names indicate, personal mojo is related to the benefits we get to ourselves in engaging in the daily activities and professional mojo is the measure of skills and value additions we bring in to each of our activities. Each kind of mojo has various components – Personal Mojo with Happiness, Rewards, Meaning, Learning & Gratitude and Professional Mojo with Motivation, Knowledge, Ability, Confidence & Authenticity. With the help of examples, the author argues that religiously taking the Mojo Scorecard can help us find areas in our daily activities and patterns that either create or aid to create Mojo and Nojo. 

The author also provides immense literature on how to evaluate the scorecard. These guidelines help in optimizing our daily engagements. The author talks about Mojo paradox – our default response in life is to continue what we are doing irrespective of whether they are positive, helpful or miserable. As a continuation to the score card and dealing with this Mojo paradox, he asks us to rate all our daily activities in a scale of 1-10. 

Essentially all our activities revolve around four factors – Identity – it can be a created one or a self-developed one; however we need to dwell on what identity we need; Achievement – we need to build a sense of achievement, recognize what we achieved and what we want to achieve, all internally inclined and not necessarily what outside world perceive; Reputation and finally Acceptance – roughly the concept Stephen Covey advises with ‘Circle of Control and Circle of Influence’. A significant part of the books is spent on each of these building blocks of Mojo. Our identity is based on two factors – interplay between sequences of past and future and how we are perceived by ourselves and others. marshall talks about four identities and appeal to focus on the main one –created identity:

  • Remembered Identity (Identity created based on sequences in the past and self) 
  • Reflected Identity (Identity created based on how others perceive us and sequences in the past)
  • Programmed Identity (Identity created based on how others perceive us and how we feel the future be)
  • Created Identity (An identity consciously created by us for future; not controlled by others or past events) 

When it comes to Achievement – author appeals to us that we should differentiate between what we considers as achievement and what others do. Managing the reputation is what author deals with next. He provides a questionnaire that he advises us to take and if possible ask our peers to take about us. This helps in understanding the gap between how we perceive ourselves and what other feel about us. Later he deals with how to change our reputation positively. Marshall spends a chapter on what Mojo killers can be. Essentially they are over committing, simply waiting for circumstances to change or become favorable, trying to justify at wrong times, hate-the-boss-chats, not leaving behind sunk costs(thinking about time spent or investments made), and losing control when not in a professional set-up. 

A section of the book is spent on Mojo toolkit which is essentially a set of questions or guidelines that we can ask ourselves. In short, they are 

1. Establish criteria that matter to you 
2. Find out ‘where’ you are living 
3. Be the optimist in the room 
4. Take away one important thing and think how it will be your life? 
5. Rebuild one brick at a time (more like slow and steady wins the race) 
6. Living our missions even in smaller moments 
7. Changing the game or playing field 
8. Deciding on when to take the plunge 
9. Having an exit strategy 
10. Adopting a metrics system 
11. Reducing gossips and blame game 
12. Keeping influential people in your network 
13. Branding our activities 
14. Forgiving friends always 

I enjoyed reading the book and going through various exercises it depicts. A book worth reading and keeping in the personal library!

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