March 29, 2017 • 9 minute read • by Saeed
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain
When you wake up in the morning, do you throw the covers off raring to go or do you pull them over your head and hide from the day as long as you can?
Are you engaged in your work and life?
You know What you do and you know How you do it but do you know Why?
Most leaders and companies focus on What.
But inspired leaders think, act, and communicate with Why.
The Why is your purpose, your cause, your reason to exist.
- Why does your organization exist?
- Why do you get out of bed in the morning?
- Why should anyone care?
Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
To make his case, he points to Steve Jobs.
He says, “If Apple were like everyone else,” they would say, “We make great computers, they’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one?”
But instead Apple says: “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
Jobs challenged the status quo. Jobs was a different kind of thinker. He also studied and was influenced by the principles of Zen aesthetics found in the art of the traditional Japanese garden and Japanese minimalism.
In Japanese, the term ikigai translates roughly to “a reason for being.”
Let’s break that down: iki, refers to life, and kai, roughly means “the realization of what one expects and hopes for.”
Ikigai is the singular force behind your life, and as seen in the image below, it combines four areas: 1) what you love, 2) what you’re good at, 3) what you can be paid for, and 4) what the world needs.
Your purpose is found in the space where these four elements meet. It is in this ‘sweet spot’ where you provide the most value to the world and where life gives the most meaning.
Though it can be illusive and hard to discover, everyone (and everything) has a purpose and “a reason for being.” But once you discover it, you can achieve the satisfaction and fulfillment that gives meaning to life. The pursuit of meaning, not happiness, is what makes life worth living.
Defining your ikigai does not have to be complicated but it is also not simply about following your passions. Getting there requires reflection, experimentation, and patience. Take a moment to contemplate it.
- What do you love?
- What are you great at doing?
- What does the world need?
- What can you make a living doing?
What is your ikigai? Why do you exist?
If you know the Why, you will figure out the What and the How.
Jobs used to say, “I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself if today were the last day of my life would I do what I am about to do today, and whenever the answer has been ‘No’ too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
The average person spends over 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.
What are you doing today?
Ikigai watercolor by the Paper Seahorse – for Creativity and Mindfulness. http://www.paperseahorse.com