henry and marshall goldsmith

The Building Blocks of Happiness and Meaning

By Marshall Goldsmith, Guest Author
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The pursuit of happiness and meaning is short when we realize that they can be found when we achieve two straightforward goals: loving what we do and showing it. I call this Mojo and all of the successful people I know have it. It is apparent when the positive feelings toward what we are doing come from inside us and are evident for others to see. Four vital ingredients need to be combined in order for you to have great Mojo.

1. Identity: Who do you think you are?

This question is more subtle than it sounds. It’s amazing to me how often I ask people this question and their first response is, “Well, I think I’m perceived as someone who . . .” I stop them immediately, saying, “I didn’t ask you to analyze how you think other people see you. I want to know who you think you are.” After people think for a while, I can generally extract a straight answer. Without a firm handle on our identity, we may never be able to understand why we gain—or lose—our Mojo.

2. Achievement: What have you done lately?

These are the accomplishments that have meaning and impact. But this too is a more subtle question than it sounds—because we often underrate or overrate our achievements based on how easy or hard they were to pull off.

3. Reputation: Who do other people think you are?

What do other people think you’ve done lately? Your reputation is a scoreboard kept by others. Although you can’t take total control of your reputation, there’s a lot you can do to maintain or improve it, which can in turn have an enormous impact on your Mojo.

4. Acceptance: What can you change, and what is beyond your control?

On the surface, acceptance—that is, being realistic about what we cannot change in our lives and accommodating ourselves to those facts—should be the easiest thing to do. It’s certainly easier than creating an identity from scratch or rebuilding a reputation. After all, how hard is it to resign yourself to the reality of a situation? Very. Acceptance is often one of our greatest challenges. And, when Mojo fades, the initial cause is often failure to accept what is—and get on with life.

By understanding the impact and interaction of identity, achievement, reputation, and acceptance, we can begin to alter our own Mojo—both at work and at home.

About the Author
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. In November 2009, he was ranked as one of the fifteen most influential business thinkers in the work in a study (involving 35,000 respondents) published by The (London) Times and Forbes.

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