Today, I spoke to Marshall Goldsmith, who I’ve interviewed many times before. He’s back with a new book called MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back If You Lose It. Marshall is a bestselling author, and one of the most influential business thinkers in the world. In this interview, he talks about what mojo is, the four vital ingredients to have great mojo, and more.

You define “mojo” as that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside. Please elaborate.

MOJO is at its peak when we are engaged in activities that simultaneously provide short-term gratification (or happiness) and long-term benefit (or meaning). No one can define happiness or meaning for you – but you!

In your new book Mojo you tell readers there are four vital ingredients that need to be combined in order for a person to have great MOJO. Those four ingredients focus on identity, achievement, reputation and acceptance. Can you give us an example of what you mean by each?

  • Identity: If MOJO is that positive spirit toward what you are doing that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside, identity is the definition of you. The way that we define ourselves – as human beings – can either enhance or destroy our MOJO.
  • Achievement: In MOJO we add a new twist to the concept of achievement. We look at achievement as not only what you bring to any activity (motivation, knowledge, ability, confidence and authenticity), we also look at what the activity brings to you (happiness, rewards, meaning, learning and gratitude). Both elements of achievement are needed for great MOJO.
  • Reputation: Our reputation is determined by how the rest of the world defines us. If we are engaged in activities that involve influencing other people (and most of us, for most of the time, are), then our reputation will impact our MOJO. Reputation is much harder to change than behavior and reputational change can only be achieved over time.
  • Acceptance: A key to maintaining MOJO is learning to change what you can change and to accept what you cannot change. For example, Peter Drucker taught me to accept the fact that every decision is made by the person who has the power to make that decision (not the ‘right’ person or the ‘fair’ person). Few people deeply internalize this simple point. Once we accept that decision makers are our customers and learn to influence them in the most positive possible way we increase both our personal happiness and our organizational meaning.

What is indicated if how we perceive ourselves does not match how others perceive us?

What people think about us impacts how we feel about ourselves. If people say how wonderful we are, our spirits tend to be lifted. However, if people have a bad opinion of us, they may not let us know. We are often not aware of what people really think. By getting confidential feedback and responding in a positive, non-defensive way, we can reduce the gap between what others think of us – and how we see ourselves.

With the advent of social media we find ourselves living in a society that demands more than ever that we mind our reputations. What advice do you have for folks in regard to their public reputations? And if we blow it, what can we do?

My first suggestion is simple. Be VERY careful about any public disclosure that is disseminated through social media. For example, I am often very disappointed in reading what young people say about themselves. What may be entered as a joke, can ultimately lead to misunderstandings, lost promotions and lost job opportunities. If we blow it, we can do as much as we can to erase the negative messages that exist – and develop a strategy that will ultimately cause these messages to be ‘buried’ with new positive messages. This may take a lot of time, but we don’t have a real choice.

Obviously our workforce is in transition. As an internationally known executive coach, from your vantage point, what is the lay of the land?

It is tough out there! Globalization, new-technology, the current economic crisis and rapid change have combined to create a challenging new world of work. For the rich countries of the world it is not going to get any easier. I advise the young people that I meet to be very focused on developing careers that provide happiness and meaning to them. If you are working 40 hours and week (and take 4 weeks of real vacation) and you don’t love what you do, it may not be so bad. If you are working 60-80 hours per week (and take almost no real vacation) and don’t love what you do, you will be living in ‘new-age professional Hell’. Too many people live there right now!

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is a world authority in helping successful leaders get even better by achieving positive, lasting change in behavior: for themselves, their people and their teams. He is one of a select few executive advisors who have been asked to work with over 120 major CEOs and their management teams. In November 2009, Forbes and The (London) Times completed an extensive study involving over 3,500 respondents and a panel of experts–Dr. Goldsmith was named one of the fifteen most influential business thinkers in the world. Goldsmith is the author of 27 books, including MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back If You Lose It, released in 2010. He is also the author of the New York Times best-seller What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, a Wall Street Journal #1 business book and winner of the Harold Longman award for Best Business Book of the Year. It has been translated into 25 languages and is a top ten best-seller in seven different countries.