My legs were trembling uncontrollably as I strained to maintain my squat.
Sweating and looking in my trainer’s eyes, I realized that I had only completed five deep lunges.
Back in the day (now, more than 15 years ago) when I was in the prime of my martial art training, I would pound out 200 lunges in one session, and hardly even feel a burn.
But today, a decade and a half, two kids, one book and a much larger butt later, I felt defeated.
While I strained and shook, my inner voice took over saying:
“Can you imagine if your old students could see you now?”
“Will you ever get back to your old shape, or are those days gone?”
“You have too far to go, give up, it will be too hard.”
I realized that I had lost my mojo.
When you are at the top of your game in any aspect of your life – relationship, career, business, finance, health, fitness – you don’t think you will ever come down.
But you do.
You get laid off. Hit a really rough spot in the economy and stumble in your business. Lose your marriage. Gain two pant sizes from stress and overwork. Get writer’s block. Lose a mentor. Get your heart broken.
And when you get through the rough patch and try to get back on your horse, if you stay focused on how great things used to be, you will give up before you even start.
Remember what you felt, not what you did.
At the beginning of anything great, there is a heated rush, excitement and flow. Think of a great romance in your life: in the first few weeks, you floated around with a big smile on your face, amazed at the generosity of the universe and the beauty of every living thing.
This is beginner mind.
It is the state of mind that will bring you back to excitement about the possibility of a new job, even if you have been unemployed for eighteen months. Or truly happy to go on a date, even if your husband ran away with his secretary. Or eager to sit in front of your computer and write your next book, even if the last one sold two hundred copies (unlike your first, which was a bestseller).
When I calmed my inner voices and tuned into my body this morning, I realized that it was saying:
“Thank you so much for using these long-neglected muscles! We are so excited to get back into a zone of challenge and exertion. We cannot wait to run and jump and dance. You love to work out and will be strong and powerful again before you know it.”
Tonight at the American Music Awards, Whitney Huston was presented the award for International Artist of the Year. Anyone who has followed her career knows that after skyrocketing stardom, she fell deep in the pit of drugs, self-loathing and, well, Bobby Brown.
As she took the stage, dressed in a pure white gown and bathed in dramatic light that made her glow from behind, she sang her new song “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.”
“I lost touch with my soul. I had nowhere to turn. I had nowhere to go.
I lost sight of my dreams. I thought it would be the end of me.
I thought I’d never make it through. I had no hope to hold on to.
I thought I would break. I didn’t know my own strength.
And I crashed down. And I tumbled. But I did not crumble.
I got through all the pain. I didn’t know my own strength.
Survived my darkest hour. My faith kept me alive. I picked myself back up. Held my head up high.
I was not built to break. I didn’t know my own strength.”
What I saw among the swelling music, makeup, glitzy production and flashing lights was something very sweet and simple.
Whitney found joy in singing again.
That’s how you get your mojo back.
Update: Thanks to my reader Steve (eighth comment below), we have a common definition of mojo. Personally, I should have said that I was using the Austin Powers definition, explained here by Dr. Evil: