You Need This Japanese Word: Ikigai

Koh-nee-chee-wah, readers!  That’s Japanese for “Hello.” The English language is full of Japanese words, like emoji, tsunami, karaoke, haiku, koi, tofu and, of course, sushi. But my favorite Japanese word is ikigai, and that’s the topic of today’s blog.

The English language doesn’t have a word for ikigai, but it roughly means, “your reason for jumping out of bed each morning.”

(If you prefer to learn by watching and listening, see me deliver this message by video below. If not, keep reading.)

What’s Your Reason for Getting Up in the Morning?

Ikigai is seen as the convergence of four primary elements:

  1. What you love (your passion)
  2. What the world needs (your mission)
  3. What you are good at (your vocation)
  4. What you can get paid for (your profession)

Put First Things First

Here’s where most people get it wrong. They focus on what pays first. I’d like to suggest it should come last. If you are on LinkedIn, have you ever gotten a connection request from someone you don’t know? And then 5 minutes after you accept, your new “friend” sends an email to help your business grow for the low, low price of…? You get the idea.

The world is full of TAKERS. But the world most needs givers.

That’s why philosopher and civil rights leader Howard W. Thurman said,

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

It starts with what you love. Passion fuels your mission, which helps others. Then do what you’re good at. Along the way, you will find the way to pay the bills.

Now Here’s the Best Part…

Western sociologists haven’t always studied Eastern cultures. That changed when researcher Dan Buettner came along. Buettner didn’t set out to study the island of Okinawa. Instead, his research focused on longevity and a happier life. He found something in common with parts of the world where people live longer and report greater happiness. It was Ikigai. If you want to know more, read his phenomenal book, Blue Zones: Lessons on Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.

I’ve known since high school that I was happiest when helping others. I knew it when I worked with inner city kids. I knew it when I worked with delinquents, drug dealers, gang members, and victims of abuse. I knew it when I worked as a crisis counselor with troubled families. And I know it today when I Equip Leaders, Enrich Cultures, and Elevate Lives.

Now it’s your turn: What makes you come alive? Share your ideas in the comments.

If I can help you find your ikigai, reach out. I’d love to help.

I offer coaching, speaking/training sessions for your team, and change/crisis management–and we are equipped to deliver services virtually. We also offer publishing/editing and branding (helping you bring your personal brand or book to reality). Contact us today for a free call or resources to get started.

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