You’ve Lost Your Mojo. Now What?

Mike Myers as Austin Powers ©1997 New Line Cinema. All rights reserved.

A business owner sold his company, began enjoying his new-found wealth and within a year was still asking himself, “OK, what now?” A power CEO retired, moved south and golfed every day for six months, then promptly spiraled into a funk.

These are real people with real problems. Post-exit expectations and experiences can be challenging—and post-exit ice cream has many flavors. Today’s flavor is “Missing Mojo.”

I recently worked with a business owner who, after selling his venture, was asked by the new owners to stick around. The money was good, the job description was clear and the new owners were complimentary and accommodating. There was one problem, though; the former owner’s mojo was gone.

During the year leading up to the sale, the owner burned through every last ounce of mental energy in pursuit of his goal. So, when the new owners made him an employment offer, he was forced to face the fact that he no longer wanted to be there and couldn’t see himself on the front line of any more battles.

There’s a great scene in the movie “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” in which Uma Thurman’s character fights her way through an enemy horde to chat with Lucy Liu’s character. At that moment, she realizes her struggle was merely a prelude to an even bigger battle.

O-Ren Ishii: You didn’t think it was gonna be that easy, did you?

The Bride: You know, for a second there, yeah, I kinda did.

O-Ren Ishii: Silly rabbit.

The Bride:  Trix are for…

O-Ren Ishii: kids.

This situation is similar to the one our former business owner found himself in. The difference? Instead of battling an external threat, the real fight was internal.

I’ve worked with enough business owners and executives over the years to see this inner turmoil occur repeatedly. And there’s no one standard formula, breathing exercise, spiritual retreat or pseudo-Yogi counsel that can get you back on track to finding your mojo.

So, what does work?

You must design your own process and find your own way. Here’s what works well based on my years of observation, counsel and personal experience:

  1. Take unstructured time. It’s easy to put a five-point plan together and check boxes. Resist that temptation as much as possible and give yourself some freedom.
  2. Have new experiences. Travel can be an important part of this, and I’ve seen retreats work wonders in helping people recover their psychic energy. The key here, though, is to simply be somewhere else and do things you haven’t done or don’t usually do.
  3. Find and use accountability partner(s). This could be your executive coach, a peer advisory board like Vistage or your own personal council of elders. (Significant others are important, but their role is different and not to be confused with an accountability partner). For optimal effectiveness, check in regularly and use your partner(s) as both a sounding board and a resource for keeping you on target—even if the target keeps moving.
  4. Spend time with loved ones and friends. Once you remove yourself from the daily bustle of making decisions and moving your organization forward, you’ll find you can rediscover the people in your inner circle. You may be surprised at how these folks have changed. Observe this without guilt or self-recrimination, and then put it into context.
  5. Sit with yourself. This may be the most important part of the process—and also the most difficult. You may call it “mindfulness,” “meditation” or simply “quiet time.” But whatever you call it, make sure that you do it every day. Self-reflection is not something that we in the West do naturally or regularly, and you will find that over time this habit will become one of the best tools in your workbox.

During one acutely memorable transition in my past, I realized that my mojo had gone walkabout in search of what was next, and I needed to catch up to it. A combination of all five of the above actions helped get me back on track and on to the next phase of my life. It wasn’t easy, but once I began to walk the path that my missing mojo had left for me to follow, I was able to relax and lean into the journey.

So, if you ever find your mojo missing, take a breath and hit pause. Ask yourself probing, self-reflective questions like:

  • Do I enjoy what I do?
  • Do I like the people I work with?
  • What am I not doing because of fear, other people’s expectations or my own nagging self-doubt?
  • What do I really want out of life?

When your mojo disappears, it doesn’t completely go away. It simply hides from you for a bit. Use the external world to help you look inward without becoming myopic and consider the five suggestions I’ve listed above. You will get your mojo back, but only after you put forth the effort.

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