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Magical moments to capture

Published on Friday, 09 Apr 2010
Illustration: Bay Leung
Book: Mojo
Authors: Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter
Publisher: Profile Books

Almost everyone has times in their professional life when it seems everything is going their way. As if by magic, ideas and suggestions are all finding favour, new business keeps materialising, plans fall into place, and problems that had looked insurmountable suddenly  resolve themselves.

For the individual, it is always a great feeling. There is the sense of firing on all cylinders, while simultaneously being in control of events. Tennis players typically describe this as being "in the zone", when the serve is working perfectly and every shot just clips the line. Sales people, managers and senior executives will more likely talk of being "on a roll" or, perhaps, "riding the wave".

But whatever the context or profession, people know instinctively that these occasions - sometimes all too fleeting - are when they are at their best. Self-confidence is higher, success comes easier, and colleagues quickly pick up on the accompanying sense of "harmony" and happiness.

"That moment is the condition I call Mojo," says Marshall Goldsmith, executive coach and recognised authority in corporate America on helping leaders achieve positive changes in behaviour. "It is the moment when we do something that's purposeful, powerful and positive, and the rest of the world recognises it."

In his latest work, appropriately entitled Mojo and written with Mark Reiter, Goldsmith helps readers understand how to create those special moments in their own lives, how to maintain them, and how to recapture them when things are not going so well. To do this, he identifies four factors as key building blocks - identity, achievement, reputation and acceptance - and, around these themes, sets out methods and ideas to clarify thinking and maximise personal effectiveness.

Using mainly a combination of short case studies and personal anecdotes, he illustrates where people typically go wrong and, more importantly, explains how to find the positive spirit that "starts from the inside and radiates to the outside". For example, too many of us allow inertia to become a default mode. Instead of simply continuing as we are, we must actively question the parts of our life that are just not working. By carefully analysing which daily activities give us most satisfaction or meaning, we can then measure our current Mojo and adjust where necessary, overcoming self-limiting paralysis.

As Goldsmith stresses, it is a question of establishing the criteria that matter most and being prepared to "change you or change it". For this, he provides a practical toolkit based on real-life examples. It shows that even small changes, such as deciding to cut out lengthy meetings or leave at 5.30pm every day, can create a fresh outlook and a new work "identity". To go with that, though, people must learn to distinguish which achievements mean most to them, be ready to build a new reputation, and understand when it's best to let things go.

Goldsmith writes in a pithy, no-nonsense style which gets straight to the point. It relies on the idiom of the corporate coach, and his casebook reflects the mindset and challenges of US-based executives. But general readers keen to break out of a rut or bring new momentum to their career will find plenty to get them thinking.


Five insights

  • By carrying around anger and negative baggage, we weigh ourselves down, so accept a situation for what it is
  • Most of us are prisoners of inertia, trapped in the status quo, never doing anything about it
  • Think about the untapped power of subtraction - taking away one thing to improve your life
  • People pick up on optimism and gravitate towards it
  • Don't get into pointless arguments or keep looking back

Win a Book!

Classified Post has five copies of Mojo by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter to give away. To enter, please tell us what steps you take to get your "mojo" back when things aren't going well, and e-mail your answer to, with the subject "Win A Book Contest" on or before 30 April, 2010.

Terms and conditions

  1. The best answers, as judged by the Classified Post editorial team, will receive the prize described above and no correspondence will be entered into.
  2. Winners will be notified individually by e-mail.

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