Posted by: Bill von Achen | June 18, 2010

Beware of “Mojo Killers”

As an executive coach, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with hundreds of successful business leaders.  Not surprisingly, the most successful among them are passionate about what they do.  But equally important is their ability to share that passion with their employees, their customers and other business leaders, and to energize and motivate others through their own example. 

Marshall Goldsmith, consultant and best-selling author, calls this special leadership trait ‘mojo,’ and that’s the title of his newest book, Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It.  I read Mojo on the return flight from a recent vacation, and I found Goldsmith’s overall message appropriate and even inspiring as I prepared to re-engage in my own professional life after some much-needed time off. 

There is much value in Mojo, but I want to share in this week’s posting the guidance Goldsmith offers in Chapter 8 of the book, entitled “Mojo Killers.”  After all, most successful people have pretty powerful mojo (that’s why they’re successful to begin with!).  But our mojo can ebb and flow, depending on the circumstances.  And, ironically, it’s often our own unwitting behavior that’s at least partially responsible for killing our mojo, just when we need it most. 

For Goldsmith, those potentially damaging behaviors are “Mojo Killers” that can sap our passion and quickly lead us downhill.

See if you recognize any of these “Mojo Killers:”

Over-committing:  No matter how good you are at multi-tasking, there’s a limit to what you can do to help others without adversely impacting your own health and happiness.  Before you quickly reply affirmatively to the next request for help, ask yourself whether what you’re doing is right for you in the long-term, or if you’re just trying to make others happy in the short-term.

Waiting for the facts to change:  Many times, when confronted with an unpleasant reality or dealt a setback, we stick with our game plan in the vain hope that things will eventually get better.  But wishful thinking seldom changes the facts.  Instead, ask “What path would I take if I knew that the situation would not get better?”  Then follow that path.  

Looking for logic in all the wrong places:  Despite appearances to the contrary, people often make decisions for reasons that defy our sense of logic and order.  But things really begin to fall apart when we believe that our own brand of logic yields better answers.  Being ‘right’ is over-rated and self-destructive; instead, focus on your effectiveness. 

Bashing the boss (or anyone else for that matter!):  What a waste of time!  If you really have a problem with someone else, talk to them about it.  If you can’t talk to them about it, leave.  And if you can’t leave, learn to accept the things that you can’t change and make the best of it. 

Refusing to change because of ‘sunk costs:’:  We all know the quagmire that we find ourselves in when our investments in any opportunity fail to pay off as we expect.  The key to maintaining your mojo in such circumstances is to focus on what you have to gain by taking a different path, not on what you have to lose. 

What “Mojo Killers” have you seen (either in yourself or others) in your professional or personal life?  And what strategies have helped you to deal with them when they present themselves?  Share your thoughts and ideas by commenting on this posting.


  1. “Mojo Killers” – not being able to be intuitive in our understanding of our own personality and effectiveness. We all feel we are making the correct decisions and look at every opportunity with the right glasses on. Quite often we are so habitual to “our way of thinking” that we forget how to think in other ways and we can loose our audience or be “Mojo Killers” due to our lack of proactively thinking differently.

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