Hi friends 👋,
At the age of 48, I found myself amid a mid-life crisis.
Despite establishing and growing a successful business, life seemed outwardly good, but something felt amiss.
The catalyst for a significant change came when my father passed away.
This change entailed selling my business, taking a sabbatical, and embarking on the journey of pursuing an MBA.
Thankfully, my family provided invaluable support during this transformative period.
While I acknowledge that taking on academic studies brought added pressure, it also allowed me to explore whether I found it fulfilling.
Similar to the sabbatical, which offered a chance to reflect, understand my feelings, and learn more about myself.
During this time, I discovered a few essential things:
- I desired a life where I could spend more time doing what I loved when I wanted and with the people I cherished—a life with fewer constraints, more freedom, and more enjoyment. A life focused on reducing the things I disliked and increasing the things I enjoyed.
- I deeply connected with the entrepreneurial and design thinking approach to the world and its ability to bring value to people. I found it intriguing and wanted to delve deeper into it.
- My MBA consulting project revolved around transforming how life storybooks were created for numerous young individuals in the care system. This experience deepened my desire to connect with people using design principles.
There was no way I could return to the old life.
Over the past four years, I have dedicated myself to building my skills and networks in design thinking, innovation, and startups.
I’ve also been coaching entrepreneurs and leaders seeking to transform their businesses, including non-profits, small and medium-sized enterprises, and public sector organizations.
The impact of this transition has been substantial. What initially felt like panic has led to a newfound sense of clarity and confidence in my life’s purpose.
Upon reflecting on this journey, I’ve come to believe that each of us possesses the capacity to lead a more meaningful life. While the path may be challenging, it is undoubtedly attainable.
During this exploration, I encountered the Japanese concept of Ikigai, which encapsulates the idea of life’s worth and purpose.
- What you have a deep passion for.
- What the world requires.
- What you can turn into a livelihood.
- What you excel at.
Here’s my Ikigai:
At the intersection is Ikigai, which serves as an intentional North Star towards a life filled with energy and deep satisfaction.
Revealing your Ikigai isn’t merely a momentous revelation; it provides profound insights into aligning your life with your fundamental values and aspirations.
All innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders need to operate within the realm of their Ikigai.
A guiding compass keeps them committed, particularly when confronting formidable challenges.
Then, you get the signals that you’re heading in the right direction, like these from our early-stage startup programme:
How to Discover Your Ikigai
The process is straightforward, But it requires some deep work and reflection.
1) – Recognising What You Love
The initial step in your Ikigai journey revolves around recognising your genuine passions.
This involves delving into what profoundly excites you, regardless of societal norms or constraints.
It pertains to activities that seize your attention, make time seemingly disappear, and fill your heart with delight.
2) – Identifying What the World Needs
The second element encourages you to ponder what the world indeed demands.
It’s not just about lofty ideals but considering broader societal needs through your strengths, skills, and passions.
3) – Discovering What You Can Be Compensated For
The third aspect centres on pinpointing the skills, talents, and expertise others value and are willing to pay for.
It promotes creative thinking while avoiding the pursuit of a niche that might lead to unnecessary stress in attracting customers.
4) – Embracing Your Innate Strengths
The fourth piece of this puzzle entails acknowledging your strengths and what you are good at.
These tasks or abilities come naturally to you that people recognise in you.
5) – Designing Your Ikigai
Once you’ve explored and documented these four facets, it’s time to design your Ikigai.
This step involves reflection, self-assessment, and experimentation.
It’s identifying where your passions intersect with a broader purpose.
6) – Being Intentional With Your Ikigai
Uncovering your Ikigai is just the beginning.
The actual transformation occurs when you begin living it. This entails making conscious choices that align with your Ikigai and incorporating it into your daily life.
Your Ikigai isn’t static; it evolves with you, guiding you towards a life with purpose and passion.
The Ikigai - Innovation Connection
Finding your Ikigai becomes the guiding principle that leads you to a fulfilling and purpose-driven life and catalyses innovation.
When your work aligns with what you are genuinely passionate about and what the world truly needs, you are poised to create solutions that resonate on a profound level.
Innovators who embrace Ikigai as a core philosophy often develop products or services that address real-world problems with empathy and authenticity.
Ikigai's Role in a Startups Success
For startups, embracing Ikigai can lead to several advantages:
- Passionate Innovation: Founders and teams driven by their Ikigai are more likely to be passionately innovative. A deep sense of purpose fuels their work, making them more inclined to find novel and meaningful solutions.
- Sustainable Motivation: The arduous journey of a startup is made more sustainable when it’s rooted in Ikigai. Even facing challenges and setbacks, founders aligned with their Ikigai are more motivated to persevere.
- Authentic Customer Connection: Startups that understand what the world truly needs, as dictated by their Ikigai, establish a more authentic connection with their customers. This deep understanding leads to products or services that resonate with the market.
This HBR article makes a compelling case for the importance of knowledge, skills and passion for startup founding teams.
Unveiling Your Ikigai for Startup Success
Uncovering your Ikigai is a transformative process, not only for personal fulfilment but also for entrepreneurial endeavours. For startups, the process can be summarised as follows:
- Identify Your Passion: Understand what excites you and what activities make your heart sing. In the context of startups, this could be related to a specific industry, technology, or societal issue.
- Recognise Market Needs: Delve into the market and identify genuine needs and problems. Your Ikigai should guide you toward understanding how to contribute meaningfully to the world.
- Leverage Your Strengths: Determine what skills, talents, and expertise you can bring and how they align with your passions and market needs. This synergy is where innovation is born.
- Create with Purpose: As you define your Ikigai, it becomes your purpose and informs your startup’s core mission. This purpose-driven approach can be a powerful differentiator in the competitive startup landscape.
Ikigai is a philosophy that can transform your entrepreneurial journey and your entire life.
⚡️ The Short of it
n summary, designing a life with intention is a continual process. To discover your Ikigai, I recommend these three steps:
- Explore: Dive into a wide array of interests.
- Choose: Select one or two of your most exhilarating interests.
- Reflect: Let your thoughts percolate and clarify what resonates most.
🎁 Resource Hub:
- 🔥This video about Ikigai and a new economic model from Eddy Van Hemelrijck
- 🤓 Recommended book on Ikigai, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
- 📺 Watch this video from Tim Tamashiro on How to Ikigai
- 📈 Design thinking will help you to design your Ikigai. Sign up for the bootcamp.
That’s all for today friends! 👋
If you learned something useful, would you share the newsletter with a friend?
And if you have an idea for a future issue, send ’em my way.
Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next week.
Keep future-state thinking,