The Energy Quadrant – Where Mojo and Mastery Meet


I regularly catch the train from Coomera to Brisbane. It’s about a 55 minute trip and useful “thinking” time.  This week I was reflecting on Daniel Pink’s great TED talk on what motivates and engages people at work. It’s been a while since I reviewed this but Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose were three key factors.

If Mastery has an impact on Mojo, what are the psychological and behavioural implications of this in the workplace and with careers? I like developing models and after a bit of ‘doodling’, I came up with the following.  I have called it the M2 Energy Model. 


Quadrant 1 – Mastery: I see so many people in this quadrant.  They usually are highly experienced, have high skill level but have lost their mojo. Many are tired, they are often bored and lack self-motivation.  Their energy is gone. They are no longer engaged in their work.

Maybe you have been in the one position or business for too long, or you are managing people like this. If you are or you have staff in this quadrant there are serious implications for management, careers and job satisfaction.  The cost to you, your team and the organisation is high.

Quadrant 2 – Meaninglessness:Where there is low mastery and low mojo there is a serious problem. I was in this quadrant once, not because I was useless but because it was the wrong job fit for me.  It was the most off-purpose time of my working life.  I was trapped, hugely troubled, very stressed and wondered if I could ever survive the trauma.  I did by gaining a position in my preferred career (and with an employer of choice and location of choice).

If you are in this position or you have staff in this quadrant, the personal and professional cost is enormous. Up-skilling, retraining, moving into a role that aligns with your skill set or just being made redundant are some options. There is no room for complacency here. Massive and immediate action is required.

Quadrant 3 – Mojo:You are such a great prospect when you have the right attitude, are self-motivated, enthusiastic and have high mojo.  For many recruiters and employers, this factor is often the one first sought.  It’s easier to teach mastery than to instil mojo. 

Many small business owners start their businesses from this quadrant.  They are full of excitement, passion and are often very skilful at what they do but are totally unskilled in running a small business. Despite the high mojo, there is tentativeness here. 

For the small business owner, a mentor or coach is vital.  If you are a manager and have people in this quadrant, don’t be fooled by their enthusiasm and natural desire to excel.  They may be stressed because they lack the technical expertise to do the work.  They need coaching and training and careful management through this start-up period.

Quadrant 4 – Mastery and Mojo:When mastery and mojo meet we are engaged in meaningful work.  We are on-purpose! We just love what we are doing and are great at it. We have a high sense of contribution and invest a lot of time and energy into our work.

If you are in this quadrant then that is fantastic.  But be warned!  You are a prime candidate for burnout. More than anyone else, you need to work on your life plan and ensure your business or career fits this.  Work-life integration is essential. 

If you are managing people who are in this quadrant, your responsibility is huge.  So many top performers leave their organisation because of burn out or being taken for granted.  Managers often ignore this group because they are doing the job so well – everything is ‘rosy’!  While they are highly engaged, they still need ‘a sense of belonging’ and want to be told they are valued and appreciated.  Ongoing training, extension, new challenges and goals are very important to this group.  Like all highly effective people, they need a coach to extend them, hold them accountable, be a sounding board and be their ‘cheer leader’.

Take time to look at this model and to review where you and your individual team members are at.  It will have profound implications for your energy levels, your job satisfaction and your general well-being. 

If you are managing staff or teams, this will also be an important diagnostic, evaluative and generative model for you to improve the purpose, productivity and performance of your people.


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© Dr Edward Gifford, On-Purpose Partners Pty Ltd, September 2012