I operationally define Mojo as "that positive spirit - toward what we are doing now - that starts on the inside and radiates to the outside."
We experience Mojo when we engage in activities that simultaneously provide us with happiness and meaning. Mojo is equally relevant for activities at work or outside of work.
I cannot think of any corporate professionals whose Mojo is more important than learning and development professionals. Most learning professionals are not in this business because they have to be. They are in this business because they want to be!
Learning professionals are generally very positive in their experience of happiness and meaning in their work. Why would anyone enter a field that doesn't typically pay as much money as other fields and is not often related to executive promotion? Because they love the work and find it meaningful.
High amounts of Mojo are not only common for internal learning professionals; Mojo is also the norm for top external learning professionals. I was recently recognized as one of the world's 50 most influential business thinkers in a global study sponsored by Forbes and The (London) Times. Although I am 61 years old, many of the thinkers on the list are older than I am. Several are in their 70s or 80s.
I know many of the thinkers on the list, and I can say with certainty that almost none have any intention of ever retiring! They love what they do and plan to keep on doing it for as long as they can. Like internal learning professionals, they are not working because they have to work. They are working because they want to work. They are simultaneously experiencing happiness and meaning in their work and have no desire to give it up as they grow older.
I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with Peter Drucker and Richard Beckhard in the years before they died (in their 90s and 80s, respectively). Both Peter and Richard worked until the end of their lives. They were consistent role models for demonstrating Mojo throughout their careers.
Professionals who get high scores on Mojo consistently communicate two simultaneous messages to the world around them:
- This activity makes me happy.
- This activity is meaningful for me.
My daughter, Kelly Goldsmith, is on the marketing faculty at Northwestern University's Kellogg School. Kelly and I did survey research with more than 3,000 respondents who were asked to describe their experience of happiness and meaning, both at work and outside of work. Our findings had several implications for learning professionals:
- There was an incredibly high correlation between respondents' experience of happiness and meaning at work and their experience of happiness and meaning outside of work. (This indicates that our Mojo scores may say more about who we are than what we are doing. Rather than just focusing on what the company can do to increase employees' Mojo, learning professionals can help employees "look in the mirror" and focus on what they can do to increase their own Mojo.)
- The only correlation between overall satisfaction with life at work (or at home) occurred when respondents experienced higher amounts of both happiness and meaning in their activities. (This indicates that simply increasing either short-term gratification or long-term benefit by themselves did not relate in higher overall satisfaction at work or home.)
- The number of hours worked per week had no correlation between overall satisfaction with life at work or at home. (This indicates that working hard does not necessarily lead to the experienced of an "unbalanced" life.)
Employee engagement in the United States is hitting a low ebb. A knowledge of Mojo can help learning professionals tackle this challenge in the following ways:
Simple computer applications can aid learning professionals in challenging employees to increase their own experience of happiness, meaning, and engagement. For example, one new application enables employees to rate themselves on their experience of happiness and meaning as they complete each activity during the day. Employees will be asked to rate themselves on a simple 1-to-10 scale on "How happy was I while completing this activity?" and "How meaningful was this activity?"
Here is my theory. Let's assume that you have to go to a boring meeting that is going to last for one hour. You are dreading the meeting. It has lots of PowerPoint slides that you have already read. If you knew you were going to have to rate yourself on your experience of happiness and meaning during this meeting, you might act differently. The hour is gone anyway.
Rather than just being miserable and making everyone around you miserable, you might challenge yourself to ask, "How can I make this meeting more meaningful?" and "How could I increase my own experience of happiness?" By having to rate yourself, you become more creative. You might not be able to increase your experience of happiness and meaning from a "1" to a "10," but you may be able to increase your experience to a "5." This would not only help the employee have a better life, it would help create a more positive and productive experience for the company.
The new world of work is increasingly challenging. Professional employees are putting in long hours. By consistently demonstrating Mojo, learning professionals can be role models for positive employee engagement. By challenging employees to understand what leads to Mojo, and to take responsibility for their own Mojo, individuals can have better lives, and organizations can become more positive and productive.