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#1 executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shares the ways in which to get—and keep—mojo to build a successful business and/or career.
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Coaching Great Leaders
Find Your Mojo and Find Success!

By Marshall Goldsmith

In my work, the most frequent question I hear is: What is the one quality that differentiates truly successful people from everyone else? My answer is always the same: Successful people spend a large part of their lives engaging in activities that simultaneously provide meaning and happiness. In other words, truly successful people have Mojo. Because the only person who can define meaning and happiness for you is you, I've recently written a book to help people to define and achieve Mojo.

Mojo is that moment when we do something powerful, purposeful, and positive and the rest of the world recognizes it. To me, Mojo is about achieving two simple goals—loving what you do and showing it—and it plays a vital role in our pursuit of happiness and meaning. These goals are what govern my operational definition, which is: Mojo is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside. Our Mojo is evident when the good feelings we have toward what we are doing come from inside us and are apparent for everyone else to see. There is no gap between the positive way we perceive ourselves-what we are doing-and how we are perceived by others.

There's something I haven't brought up yet and it may be the most critical piece of advice within this article: You should not feel obligated do any of this alone! If you want to improve your performance at almost anything, your odds of success improve considerably the moment you enlist someone else to help you.

I know this from personal experience, because for several years I have enlisted the help of a friend, Jim Moore, in achieving my own personal goals. Every day, no matter where either of us is in the world, we try to connect on the phone so Jim can ask me a series of questions. They're important day-to-day lifestyle questions such as "Did you say or do anything nice for Lyda [my wife]?" "How much do you weigh?" or "How many minutes did you write?" Jim happens to be an esteemed expert in leadership development, but his qualifications for this ritual rest more on the fact that he's a friend who's genuinely interested in helping me and will always make himself available for our daily phone call.

The process is incredibly simple. At the end of each day, Jim asks me twenty-four questions (the number has changed over time as my goals shift between maintaining my weight and being nicer to my family). Each question has to be answered with a yes, no, or a number. I record the results on an Excel spreadsheet and at the end of the week get an assessment of how well I'm sticking to my objectives. (I return the favor by asking Jim a series of questions about what matters to him.)

The results are astonishing. After the first eighteen months of adhering to this ritual, Jim and I both weighed exactly what we wanted to weigh, exercised more, and got more done (and I was nicer to my wife). As an experiment, we quit for about a year to see what would happen. Each of us put the weight back on and did not achieve nearly as much-a result that was both predictable, depressing, and sent us rushing to back to the program, where we resumed hitting our targets immediately. I was never unhappy, but my life seems happier and more meaningful to me when I use this process.

(To see my ‘daily questions,' Jim's daily questions, and get an article describing this process, go to MojoTheBook.com.)

The lesson is clear: we don't just have to rely on self-help!

Marshall Goldsmith, MBA, PhD, is a world authority on helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting behavioral change. His executive coaching expertise has been highlighted in Forbes, Fast Company, and Business Week. He is the WSJ and NYT best-selling author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There (Hyperion, 2007). His most recent book is Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back If You Lose It. Learn more about Marshall in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Marshall.

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