Finding your Ikigai

by Nov 11, 2019Uncategorized0 comments

There may not be enough jobs to feed our passions, but there are more than enough opportunities.

Japan has been basking in the glory of hosting an amazing Rugby World Cup event recently, and they’re likely to pull off another showstopper in 2020 when they host the Olympics.

I think it’s fitting that today I find inspiration in the Japanese concept of IKIGAI (eeky-guy). The translation is as close to “your reason for being” as you can get. Some refer to it as the reason for getting up in the morning, or your purpose in life. Whichever you choose, the underlying desire is to find meaning in your life.

Another way to understand IKIGAI is to experience it as that elusive ‘sweetspot’ integration of your passion in life, your talents, what the world needs and what people are prepared to pay you for.

The reason so many people find this elusive in a working world is the simple truth that business for many years has been less interested in your passions as they have been in your productivity. As soon as you break the chain and exclude people’s passions, the chance of experiencing IKIGAI are severely diminished. Does it really matter though?

According to the rate at which industries and organisations are changing to deal with a rapidly evolving world – one thing is for sure. We no longer live in a world of certainty. More now than ever, we need our talent to reach and possibly even exceed their potential. This only happens when you unlock people with the keys of IKIGAI.

What we need now are businesses and leaders/ managers who are prepared to see people not as ‘human resources’ but as whole beings that when unleashed, can be more creative, productive and engaged than ever before. By using a simple approach I call the EARL model in honour of one of my friends who I believe is a great example of IKIGAI in action, I believe managers can establish the right conditions for people to find their purpose at work and ultimately their IKIGAI.

Here are the main elements of the EARL model.

  • EMPATHISE – develop a deep understanding of people in your teams, or around you to connect with what they see as important in life.
  • APPRECIATE – show gratitude and respect for the talents that people have and seek out where you can enhance these. Focus on the positive value and impacts as opposed to trying to fix the weaknesses.
  • RECOGNISE – at every opportunity, recognise people for their efforts. Success and failure may appear absolute, but experience and learning can offer richer rewards beyond a result when you take time out to say “well done” – “thank you” – “good effort”.
  • LISTEN – apply non-judgmental listening to create the space for people to speak freely and safely. Apply listening that is caring and genuine for the sake of learning.

I am fascinated by the prospect of reaching a state of IKIGAI. As I’ve been told before, there are two great days in your life. The day you are born and the day you find out why. What’s your why? What’s your IKIGAI?