When it comes to building a business and a brand, I’m a huge fan of the idea that we learn from those who have come before us. And I know this much is true — the people, the communities, and the ideas we surround ourselves with impact us in more ways than I think any of us even realize. So when I learned about the Japanese principle of ikigai, I was hooked.
See, when you really start to think about it, you can quickly discover that the answers to anything business-related comes down to what lies inside of you. From your passion to your purpose, it all plays a part in something bigger — and that’s where ikigai — or the Japanese idea that having a purpose in your life is how you take action meaningfully — comes into play.
Here is how you can use ikigai to build a more successful brand for your business.
Wait… What’s Ikigai?
Ikigai is a term made from the Japanese words “Iki” (meaning “to live”) and “gai” (meaning “reason”). The idea? That having a direction or purpose in life will provide you with a sense of true fulfillment. This is something that’s been studied and analyzed by anthropologists and social scientists for years and the reported benefits and effects of ikigai can be seen in the longevity of long-working, happy Japanese regions like Okinawa.
When you find your ikigai, you’ve found what keeps you putting one foot in front of the other each day — in other words, you’ve found your reason for waking up each morning and pursuing life, happiness, and your goals. When you’re living a life focused on your ikigai, you’re more likely to find joy and fulfillment… and that’s in more ways than one. From daily life to building a business, your ikigai gives you a compass.
Redefining Purpose: The 4 Principles of Ikigai
The 4 principles of ikigai come down to a few simple — but impactful — ideas: passion, skill, service, and community. When you find your ikigai, you’re using something that you’re great at and passionate about to benefit the world around you in some way — and you’ve found out a way to get paid for it.
What You’re Passionate About
To find your ikigai, you have to do some inner work to find out what truly lights you up inside. As an entrepreneur, you can use this in your business by simply doing what you love (like so many of us do) — and how lucky is that? The key is to truly start chasing a life full of moments that make you feel fulfilled and to do a job that makes you truly happy, so ask yourself: “What does this look like for me? What does this look like for my business?”
What You’re Good At
The idea of ikigai also pushes you to do what you’re skilled at, which can always be aligned with something that you love to do — especially in business. When you finally unlock that sweet spot between passion and skill, you’ve found that area of life (and business) that you can be happy with forever. While we’re not always wonderfully skilled at the things we love and we’re not always in love with the things we’re wonderfully skilled at, ikigai encourages you to find that intersection that gives you both.
What The World Needs
A big piece of ikigai involves using what you love and what you’re skilled at to benefit other people somehow — and it’s the piece of the ikigai puzzle where true longevity and fulfillment truly comes from. Whether it’s by implementing service-based company values or finding places to offer your time that involve your passion while making the world better, spend time truly asking yourself: what does the world need? How can I offer my help?
What You Can Actually Get Paid For
In the most ideal form of ikigai, you’re able to get paid for something that you’re passionate about and something that helps the world around you. As entrepreneurs, we’re so lucky to live a life where reaching that piece of ikigai is truly the ultimate goal — and it’s a great reminder to continually strive towards it.
Using Ikigai in Your Business
As entrepreneurs, we have a visceral understanding of the concept of ikigai — even if the word itself is new to us. When it comes to building a lasting, sustainable business, the only true way *to* do it is by pursuing ikigai in all forms, taking a lesson from the Japanese culture to focus on what’s best for the world around us while also focusing on what we love. When we can learn how to strike that balance, it makes sense that fulfillment comes afterwards.
Wondering how to align your ikigai to your business? Take these questions, write them out on a Post-It, stick them on your desk or your laptop, and consistently challenge yourself to answer them:
- What is my ikigai?
- Am I staying passionate about my business, and am I focusing more often on the work I love than the work I don’t?
- Am I always learning and doing my best to be better at what I’m doing? Am I constantly striving for opportunities to grow?
- How am I helping the world around me? How can I help more?
- Am I aligning my income with my purpose?
For entrepreneurs like you and me, learning to combine our passions with our income is really the best any of us can do — and striving towards jobs and careers that help make the world better is how we follow a purpose. A huge piece of learning to find and chase that principle of ikigai in our businesses and lives comes from finding confidence within it all, which is where my Big Brand Confidence Training comes into play. Sign up here for free, and start searching for the confidence that lets you truly unlock your passion today.