Mojo Movement (huh?!)

How Mojo supports RWPS. Or, why RWPS must be heavy on the Mojo (preview…see “What’s Really At Stake” in “About”)

There is a solid economic case for treating people right in the workplace. And equally solid data that supports the notion that contented cows give more milk. I suppose it’s more appropriate to say that when people needs are met performance goes through the ceiling, true in school. at work and in private lives. If that doesn’t trip your trigger, how about the fact that social-emotional well-being boost longevity? Find your balance, reduce stress, minimize bad internal chemicals, boost the good, live long and prosper. Pretty simple.

I bet there is some fairly valid economic metric for the bottom line impact of society being so full of cretins and cads, idiots and assholes. We burn through tons of capital (that’s $$$$) due directly to social and interpersonal issues. Health costs including physical and mental, lost productivity at work, low academic performance, legal problems. It’s a reinforcing loop, can go both ways.

My “passions evolution” has been driven a good deal by my environment, work assignments to education. Basic workplace skills and engagement theory, education improvement and social-emotional development in youth, social change. It depends on how far back you dig, but they’re all in here. The Mojo Movement emerged as a frontrunnerand remains relevant even though I am trying to package it into a less airy-fairy package …Real-world Prep School, driven by unschooling / alternative education practices and most recently, King LeBron’s I Promise school in Akron. More about RWPS and I Promise under the “About” button.

Now, About This “Mojo” Thing….

I’d love to change the world…but I don’t know what to do.

So I’ll leave it up to you. (Ten Years After, 1970)

It’s not a “movement”. And there’s no cool definition of “mojo” that fits this application, beyond you know ‘It’ when you’ve got it, but may not know if or when you’ve lost It. Austin Powers lost his Mojo and he wasn’t worth a crap without it. But at least he knew it. We’ve lost It and most folks don’t have a clue it’s gone.

If you had the chance, where and how would you make a meaningful contribution toward solving what ails the world and its inhabitants? It took a long time to find my One Thing: social improvement, human dynamics, somehow helping to define and rediscover our mojo. What we know and what we’re trying to do about it shows that, just for starters, we need a drastic overhaul of the education system and in the way we utilize …”manage”… people in the workplace. The problems and opportunities with school and work are closely related, and their similarities are important–stay tuned.

Some of what we know about human dynamics:

  • How the brain processes information, and how people of all ages really learn. We do not leverage what we know for education, learning and teaching methods, leadership and workplace performance;
  • Human needs, what really motivates people especially the need to contribute to a greater good. Once again, we don’t leverage what we know to encourage people to fully engage—at school or work, in their community;
  • We know that traditional education methods can limit the full potential of young learners, can even inflict pain and causing irreversible damage. But guess what? Similar practices mismanage adults in the workplace with the same negative, damaging results. One big prison system, childhood to grave.
  • Key causes of the steep rise in stress, anxiety, depression, suicide in all age groups;
  • The criticality of social-emotional health and its lifelong impacts on (a) physical and mental health and satisfaction, and (b) academic, work and whole-life performance.

This list poses challenges but mostly incredible opportunities. It’s not that we’ve been doing nothing. Rather, efforts have been piecemeal, disjointed, misdirected, ineffective and too-often market and profit-driven.

For years I observed the good, bad and ugly of leadership and organizational effectiveness in the workplace. More recently I’ve studied alternative education, including radical unschooling. There’s serious work to do in both education and the workplace, but we can’t reach for the stars all at once. Education improvement, especially alt ed, is not an easy sell but it’s a big part of the overhaul we need. The radical transformation needed in people leadership in general will be tough too. The macro nut to crack: systemic social change in what drives both education and the workplace—attitudes, values, norms, the beliefs system that governs us all as human beings. A revolution or head-on assault would be counter-productive and maybe destructive, so change management applies in buckets:

Why change?

Change to what?

Why should we bother?

HOW in the heck will we do that?

Following are loosely mojo-related thumbnails that explore current reality and possible futures, and attempt to partially answer those four questions. As always, this is in-process, and all share the same roots so you may note some gaps and redundancies! A little help?

Searching For Our Mojo

Starting with Mojo, this series of articles focuses on human dynamics and the real potential of human development in the greater social good. We have plenty of thing-related problems in this world, with ample opportunity to be involved. We can’t ignore all the physical issues like homelessness, hunger and poverty, environment and conservation, class warfare, income inequality, runaway capitalism without conscience, immigration and the refugee crisis, the need for political reform ad nauseum.

Those things must certainly be addressed and while I care deeply about them, I feel it’s critical to give social reform, social-emotional problems, the attention they deserve. We can impact the people stuff as individuals more than we can world hunger. And, in theory ‘better’ people won’t allow all those things to continue to exist. The only logical priority order with a shot at sustainability, even (especially!) for a capitalist system: people > planet > profit.

Mojo frames some of the more significant human issues. Later: what we may be able do to at least partially address those issues. Mojo includes personal reflections on why I am so committed to impacting the human condition in the hope that sharing my feelings may trigger similar powerful feelings in others, and commitment to taking action. It is truly a survival issue to at least slow down this inside-out decay.

Kids Bully, Big Kids Harass

Too many young people suffer irreversible long-term harm, even commit suicide because of pressures they can’t handle. Key triggers: education demands, bullying, growing up in a vacuum. Too many adults are hurting too, due mostly to workplace pressures, harassment, isolation, lack of purpose.

Stress, anxiety, formally diagnosed mental / emotional illnesses, self-harm, suicide are all increasing across all ages. We’ve turned our backs on the importance of treating each other like human beings, and we’re far too often killing ourselves and each other. Harsh? Reality usually is.

Bullying and other inhuman behavior is #1 on my Hit List. There’s no excuse for it, ever. And there’s no excuse in looking the other way, ever. Older kids call bullying “harassment” because it’s more grown-up sounding. Big kids (“adults”) can be obnoxiously bad bullies with much the same kind of inexcusable behavior.

Unacceptable behavior has become more frequent.  While some impacts are immediate and traumatic, others are subtle and take longer to surface. This article looks at the current state of bullying and harassment, and discrimination. Sneak Peek: unacceptable behaviors and possible solutions to the problem are surprisingly similar across all ages.

Social Science Fiction

The front cover blurb for this not-yet-bestseller: leveraging human development to strengthen society and our communities, improving quality of life, standard of living, productivity and global competitiveness.

Big enough?

My belief in the future of humanity may be a little kool-aid induced. I feel that emotionally aligned, fully engaged people are aching for a chance to make a difference…we’re collectively sick and tired of this funk we’re in, we’re tired of too many people paying such a high emotional and physical price. It’s a high-stakes game that we must win, together. We just need more emotionally aligned, fully engaged people. That’s “all”.

Human development on a community-wide scale is an employer’s Ultimate Sustainability Strategy. Capitalism is the ideal economic system. Social democracy is the only ideology (values system) capable of sustaining capitalism with a conscience. Capitalism’s Job One isn’t economic and competitive advantage and market superiority—all outcomes, but to impact the human condition, a high-return real-time effort. Focus on people first and business and economic success are assured.

Reconnecting To-do’s (where specific action items will live…. concept phase)

Here are a few starter thoughts on what we may be able to do to achieve a greater level of systemic human development, to realize sustainable social improvement. The rub: schools already “do” a little social-emotional learning. Companies already have training and zero tolerance policies for harassment. Something’s broken, badly. What’s not working? Is it the message or the method? Or is mankind simply too far gone?

Engagement and Mojo—Peas and Carrots

Human needs, values and motivators are common for all ages. The principles that make learning and education effective are mirrors of the principles of workplace engagement, and effective workplace leadership mirrors effective teaching methods. It’s a small stretch from there: those same factors can determine whether communities are sustainably healthy. We can leverage the similarities of these principles.

Engagement theory has been studied for decades, and the workplace impacts are well-known. Education has also dabbled in engagement. The new kid on the block is “social engagement”. As young people in school and adults at work and in the community all benefit from the same engaging attributes, it stands to reason that those attributes can be leveraged in a broad social initiative, focused single-community efforts with a shared vision of understanding and actually utilizing the known enablers of engagement. In doing so, we would enable a more highly engaged population, and build a better world. 

Engagement research and volumes of literature focus on employee engagement in the workplace. It’s all business, after all: driven by the promise of greater productivity and profit, we’ve ignored the greater good, the huge potential beyond the workplace. What would be the impact of a coordinated effort to grow engagement in education, community, families?


Loops are a sequence of events where one thing leads to another. They are “closed” because the chain of events eventually links back into itself. Per chaos theory, if you look out far enough any loop is closed. Closed loops are self-perpetuating, or reinforcing: they tighten and gain strength on their own. Good loops are sometimes called virtuous circles, bad loops are vicious cycles. Bad loops can be straightened out with awareness and action. Good loops can be leveraged and are usually a whole lot more fun!

There’s a lot that needs to be learned about loops. Here are a few key thoughts:

  1. People Needs—social-emotional development, well-being etc—rule the roost, validated by decades of study and data on engagement and impacts on academic and workplace performance data. Can’t optimize “doing things” results without first meeting people needs;
  2. MAJOR AHA! Social-emotional well-being, economic prosperity and physical wellness are all interrelated. Impact one, impact the others. The box top to the puzzle: leverage human development to rebuild society and communities and improve quality of life, standard of living, productivity and global competitiveness. See diagram at end.
  3. We’ve thrown a monkey wrench into things starting with the way we raise and educate our children, through our adult working lives. Self-imposed authoritarian systems and potential- limiting practices have drastically suboptimized our ability (our right!) to be all we can be.

Big deal, right? Yes it is. We’re perpetuating our challenges–increased levels of stress, anxiety, depression and suicides even among middle school children. Declining social health and spikes in significant social problems: opioid addiction, violent crime including mass murders, and intense rudeness and insensitivity…terminal redneck behavior. Our social fabric is tattered and torn, locally and globally. Emotional well-being, physical health and economic effects of these problems are profound.

If we are to fully seize our opportunities and truly resolve our issues, our first critical to-do is to better understand the interrelationships and the nature of often-hidden influencers. The elements in this model are a good starting point.

Again, a reminder: this entire project is very much in-process. Please follow or check back, and by all means share your thoughts! I can’t own it, my shoulders aren’t nearly wide enough.