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  • Writer's pictureDr. William Sommers

FOMO & NOJO v. GOJO & MOJO - Fear of Missing Out v. Positive Spirit of Engagement

OMG!  Did I miss something? Being connected is healthy and important.   Having time to yourself and reflecting on events is also important.  It seems like we are online 24/8.  Yes, that is an 8.  (yes, I meant to say 8). An overload of information is making deeper thoughts harder, the immediate responses to so many events make considering options for actions more difficult, and the distractions keep mounting.  

FOMO is the constant diversion of attention by technology, crises, and demanding colleagues and customers.  In the fast-paced effort not to miss anything, we sacrifice systems thinking, short-term v. long-term consequences, and reflection.  Hardly an environment to foster positive responses to major issues. (Of course, there are reasons to take quick action e.g., safety of people and property)

Advertisers and some people create psychological and physical desires that lead to addictions.  It seems like there is a new malady every day on TV and on the internet that requires us to buy something to solve the induced problem.  Good Grief.

NOJO is the negative spirit that rains on our dreams and hopes for a better world.

Some of the behaviors are:

  • “that will never work here” (why try and resignation sets in)

  • “we already tried that” (could have been years ago)

  • Not invented here (it may have worked in other places, but we are different)

  • Play the victim (lack of efficacy, I can’t do anything about it)

  • Being resentful (who do they think they are?)

GOJO is being action-oriented.  Run the experiment.  Adjust, Adapt, and Take Action.  Gojo is making progress toward a common goal.  Asking the people who must do the work, they know best.  Involvement always increases participation and good effort.

Marshall Goldsmith (2009) wrote a book titled Mojo: How to Keep It and How to Get It Back if You Lose It.  Goldsmith defined mojo as that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside.” I encourage educators, as well as others, to consider LEARNING as our mojo.  

MOJO involves overcoming inertia (remaining at rest or continuing on a path that is not working).  OK, I was a physics major in college.  MOJO injects energy, creative thinking, and commitment into the organization.  Leaders who can engage the attention of colleagues can change the system.  Leaders are everywhere, and you don’t need a title.

No matter whether a student, an employee, a professional, etc., we must keep on learning.  Not much is or will stay the same. Doctors, lathe operators, artists, etc., must continue to learn since the world is evolving and new ideas continually emerge.

Marshall suggests four elements that you will need to have good Mojo.

  1. Identity – What do you think you are? Your identity is important. It is who you think you are and what is important to you.

  1. Achievement – What have you done lately? What gets you excited?  What gifts do you bring to work or the challenges of life?

  2. Reputation – Who do other people think you are? The hard part is this is how others see you, not necessarily what you think people believe.  The closer what you think and what others think, the more authenticity.  The farther apart, there is less trust and believability.

  3. Acceptance – What can you change, and what is beyond your control?  This can be a major challenge for leaders and managers.  The higher up in the organization, the more people may think you have control.  Most of the control in organizations is the culture and the minute-to-minute decisions frontline people do.

A book summary of Mojo is on the website    In the final analysis, “the only person who can define meaning and happiness for you is YOU.” Ego strength is important in being successful.  Too much Ego can get leaders in trouble.  They sometimes overestimate how much they were the reason a product or process was successful.  Most things are a team effort, and the contribution of many makes success happen.

For Mojo to work for us, we need a close match between what we are giving the work and what the work is giving us.


Is that positive spirit

Toward what we are doing


That starts from the inside

And radiates to the outside

Marshall Goldsmith

Our intentions are usually positive and helpful to colleagues and the organization.  Let’s turn our attention to what we can do v. what we can’t do. It is always amazing to me what can be accomplished by a group of committed people.  Thank you, Margaret Meade.

Dr. Bill Sommers has been an administrator at the middle school, high school, central office, and university level, working in leadership preparation programs and doctoral faculties. As a teacher, he worked with self-paced physics, math, and chemistry teaching methods. With over forty years of experience in teaching and leading schools, he has actively extended his learning from education to include business models. He has consulted with Cognitive Coaching, Adaptive Schools, Brain Research, Poverty Issues, Leadership Development, and Conflict to Consensus models. He can be contacted at

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