Change you or change it

By Marshall Goldsmith

It’s a tough, changing world we live in. And when your competition already is responding to this environment by working harder and longer, you need unique tools to separate yourself from the throng.
Getting and keeping mojo, the positive spirit that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside, will no longer be an option – it will become more and more of a requirement.

Here’s the good news: You’re still in control of your life and destiny. You have the power to create significant positive change. This, however, begs the question: What can you change? The answer is simple: You can change either you or it.

By you, I mean how you think, how you feel, what you say – basically everything about you that’s under your control.

It, on the other hand, refers to any influencing factors in your life that are not you. It could be another individual, a group of people, a job, a place, a relationship, or the results of a choice you made in the past that needs undoing. It is everything that’s not you.

It’s a stark and unambiguous binary, yet a lot of us make the wrong choice. We try to change it when we should be changing something about ourselves, and vice versa.

For example, we all know a few people who hate their companies. It’s interesting to watch how people deal with this emotion.

Some people do nothing. They stoically endure the situation. But endurance is not much of an option if your aim is to elevate your mojo. When you choose the status quo, you’re electing to stay miserable rather than try to be happy. That’s not change of any kind.

Some people find another job. They remove themselves from the offending employer and seek a new environment. It’s risky, but it’s changing it in its purest form.

Some people alter their attitude toward the company. They assess why they feel how they do and try to find a new way to interact with their colleagues. For example, you might resent your boss calling you about business on nights and weekends. You might believe this is rude and invasive. You might choose to change yourself and accept that your company sees no other options; and you might mentally readjust what you regard as working hours. That’s changing you, making peace with the situation.

Some people positively and proactively change their work environment. They treat decision makers respectfully, yet challenge up on important issues. They respect final decisions that won’t change, yet realize they can impact many decisions that are in progress.

Many people do none of the above. Instead, they whine and complain about their employers, as if voicing their resentment will magically change the company. What are the odds of that happening? Answer: slim to none. Changing you is not inherently preferable to changing it, and vice versa. The best approach depends on the situation.

Once you’re aware of this “You or It” dichotomy, you begin to see manifestations everywhere and you begin to realize its effect on mojo. You see that in all work and personal situations, mojo is a function of the relationship between who you are (You) and your situation (It). If you cannot change you, mojo is influenced by your relationship to it. If you cannot change it, mojo is influenced by your relationship to you. It’s your choice.

It is your life. If your mojo is suffering, no one can make the you vs. it decision for you. My only suggestion is that you become clear on your own values and make a thoughtful decision.

Excerpted from Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back When You Lose It!. 

About the author:
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith has authored 28 books including What Got You Here Won't Get You There, a New York Times best-seller, The Wall Street Journal No. 1 business book, and Harold Longman Award winner for Business Book of the Year. Succession: Are You Ready? is the newest edition to the Harvard Business "Memo to the CEO" series. Marshall's latest book is Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back When You Lose It!.

Reprinted with permission from
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