The 21st Century Mojo: Idealism

‘Mojo: The libido. The life force. The essence. The right stuff. What the French call a certain… I don’t know what.’ – Dr. Evil

Generic Idealism

I think people often get carried away with Idealism. If by the notion of Ideal and Idealistic, we mean a preferrable outcome or series of actions dictated by our conscience, we surely build ourselves up for an inevitable failure… at least once in a while?

Ideally, I wanted to spend a year delving into all that delights my heart and then choose a nook – aka Masters degree – and begin my career.

As fate would have it, amid all the delving, I found out I was moving to London on a gloomy, rainy Thursday afternoon (perhaps an omen-like weather forecast). It was the last Thursday before Monday the 1st of October, first day of University. I was terrified. But in a dopamine-fuelled, I’m going to be Kevin-lost-in-the-big-city, sort of way.

Ideally, I would have read six books on writing before venturing out into a project that depended on my writing skills.

In reality, I’ve hardly finished my first at the time of writing this.

I comfort myself with the fact that it’s slowly, (albeit slightly delayed) and surely, dawning on me… another life lesson: The best circumstances on which to embark on something new, are the ones that don’t depend on your plans. Maybe plans are meant to be ditched.

The efforts of the plan-making process don’t go to waste. They are just stored away. And then suddenly, three months later, in mid-heated-debate with your friends, you slam your fist into the table and blurt out an indispensable fact with such temerity, it sets the nay-sayers straight. None of you saw it coming. Your brain winnowed out this information from your mental knowledge bank.

I am not arguing this is the sole advantage of planning. In truth, planning allows you to align your ideals with the grander plan. Imagine the ideals as the ocean bed, the waves and ripples up above as breezes of second-guessing, speculation, and any other state that may sway you. Planning, and the reflections it prompts you to have, help you find your mojo, your ocean bed.

The Mojo-inducing work space

Positive Idealism

Ideals are therefore hinged on the way our brain processes the world, and our ensuing decisions. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, argues that changing the inside filter through which we act, will radiate to the outside:

‘If we change the way your brain processes the world, we change our formula for happiness and success. What we can do is change the way that we can then affect reality.’

In his TED talk, Achor suggests that we can actually only predict 10 per cent of someone’s long-term happiness if we know everything about someone’s external world.

It follows that identifying our ideals, the ocean bed, the fabric of our ambitions, fosters happier versions of ourselves.

Alain de Botton, founder of the School of Life, also makes a case for taking pen in hand, and becoming the authors of our own ambition. His logic contends:

‘Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse having an idea of what it is you want, and finding out, at the end of the journey, that it isn’t what you wanted all along. Let’s make sure our ideas of success are truly our own.’

We are all familiar with small mojo-driven businesses, sources of endless inspiration to the would-be New Idealist. However, the new “era of higher ideals”, is also seeing a healthier, more successful business model emerge in the corporate world.

Jim Stengel, author of GROW: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, has embarked on a quest to rethink business, enlightening companies with the benefits of ideals based around generosity, giving, service and passion.

Stengel, an ex-Global Marketing Officer for the largest consumer goods firm in the world, P &G, says: ‘The important point is that An ideal is not corporate social responsibility, or altruism, it’s the reason the business exists. It’s the impact you’re trying to make in the world… the core essence of business.’

In his 10-year study, forward-thinking Stengel has proven that incorporating ideals into a business’s raison-d’être, has delivered 400 per cent better returns to stakeholders.

One example of a company who got high on their mojo was The Discovery Channel. In his research, Jim Stengel discovered their motto Satisfying curiosity, had pervaded the entire business model. They took this motto and changed their products, strategy and communication, he says. Preaching his new gospel to companies, Stengel simply puts it down to:

‘Discover your ideal, and articulate it.’

I find that many people struggle with the concept of identifying their personal driving force. Maybe if we all viewed our Ideals as our personal mojo’s, life would be much simpler? New Idealist is all for the mojo, determining how we choose to live our lives, and ultimately (we naïvely hope) changing the way society can be shaped.

Be your mojo.


Image via http://misswallflower.tumblr.com

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