Years ago, an old friend – having had a little too much truth serum – took me aside at the pub, put his hand on my shoulder and said “You’ve lost your mojo man. What happened?!” It was a wake up call.

Around the same time, a colleague I’d worked with for a while made a light-hearted jibe along the lines of “You know Peter, you used to be quite funny.”

This observation stuck with me, and I’ve used humour (or lack of it) as a litmus test for my professional fulfilment ever since.

While I hadn’t realised until then, I’d allowed my job to suck the life out of me, and I’d become a sanitised version of myself.

That’s when I realised things had to change, and it was a huge motivator for me to start my own business.

“When mojo shrivels it leads to heaviness, pessimism, flatness and can render work life humourless.”

What is mojo?

While it’s a fuzzy concept, I like this definition: “Mojo is a quality that attracts people to you and makes you successful and full of energy.” (Cambridge Dictionary)

When mojo is strong, it brings a feeling of lightness, creativity, optimism, curiosity, confidence and humour. It’s how I feel after a double-shot latte on a Sunday morning.

But when mojo shrivels it leads to heaviness, pessimism, flatness and can render work life humourless.

Responsibility can be the enemy of mojo.

While a new business or role starts with a fresh slate and clear eyes, over time growing responsibilities gradually pile on to your shoulders.

Project deadlines, managing important customers, budget accountability, tough decisions, time pressure etc, can all chip away at enjoyment.

Signs your business mojo is under pressure:

  1. Friday afternoons become heavenly, Sunday nights become heavy.
  2. Projects are completed with minimum flair and maximum caution.
  3. It takes a week to reply to a friend’s chatty email.
  4. There’s no time for jokes or idle banter. It’s strictly work mode.
  5. Social catch ups seem like tasks to squeeze into the calendar.
  6. A feeling that if you enjoy the moment, things will screw up later.
  7. You stop enjoying things you used to love outside of work.

Attitude is everything.

As I wrote in Are you having a laugh?, when you’re wading knee-deep through a prolonged business drama or a nightmare project, it’s all too easy to get sucked into a humourless quagmire. The daily routine of business can stealthily drain your personality and turn you into a robot.

However, if you can maintain your sense of humour at work you’ll not only be happier, you’ll perform better.

Medical and emergency professionals use humour to manage stress, maintain focus and perform under pressure, and humour in business can instill confidence, create rapport, show intelligence and reduce stress.

Bring your real self to work.

I love this quote from the book Delivering Happiness: “I think when people say they dread going into work on Monday morning, it’s because they know they are leaving a piece of themselves at home.”

There’s no magic secret to thriving, or even just surviving, in business or at work. But left uncared for, your mojo can shrivel, leaving you humourless.

For me, it’s a reminder to find ways to be yourself, stay relaxed, and take your personality to work.

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