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The Spirit Of Success ‒ A Powerful Sense Of Purpose & Why Every Business Should Realize It’s Ikigai

Written by: Mira Taylor, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

The concept of Ikigai is a lifestyle philosophy which evolved from the basic health and wellness principles of traditional and holistic minded Japanese medicine. The tenets of Ikigai hold that physical wellbeing is especially affected by one’s mental and spiritual health and that a sense of purpose in life is an important part of what allows for mental and spiritual wellness. The word Ikigai is most literally translated as ‘reason for being’; ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life’ and ‘gai’ is a root word that denotes or describes a sense of value or worth. A personal or individual Ikigai is what you have consciously defined as your life purpose. This purpose is what connects you with your bliss or peace and what allows you to experience a sense of ‘flow-state’. ‘Flow-state’ is a term to describe that feeling you experience when you are connected to what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day. According to psychologist Katsuya Inoue, Ikigai is a concept consisting of two aspects: “sources or objects that bring value or meaning to life’ and "a feeling that one's life has value or meaning because of the existence of its source or object".

For the individual, the spiritually mindful development and establishment of one’s own Ikigai are intended to act as a central principle from which one’s life aims and actions are rooted. When one allows their Ikigai to act as a fulcrum and compass of intention in life, this grants a sense of personal wealth, success, and vigor that promotes genuine longevity and a whole sense of one’s wellness through mind, body, and spirit. Working with the development and implementation of your own Ikigai has also been scientifically proven to be an excellent method for establishing an understanding of what sort of career path, hobbies and daily/ long-term life choices will allow you the most freedom to be your truest Self. The embodiment of this true Self is what leads to your ability to get the most enjoyment out of your life. The Ikigai philosophy is a system that relies on the individual’s choice to mindfully and honestly answer four simple questions that are intended to culminate or converge into a deeper sense of wisdom and intuitive awareness about what our spirit is truly desiring from life. In fact, the diagram used for Ikigai is a Venn diagram with four interlacing circles or ‘petals’. These petals are intended to be the pillars or guiding principles of one’s Ikigai in a way that allows for a blossoming in life.

The 4 Primary Interests of Ikigai: Questions for Identifying a Sense of Purpose


The Ikigai philosophy understands the importance of personal intention and connection to life and your life aims. Because of this sentiment the method of Ikigai utilizes questions instead of rules for the individual to work with. These questions are intended to act as guides for identifying a sense of purpose that feels Self-created and self-realized in life. If you have never worked with the Ikigai model on a more personal level, I highly recommend taking the time to work through these questions and understand the deeper meanings and truths that they hold for you. The Ikigai model is also an effective model for honest self-observation and reflection as it allows you to see the spaces in your life where you have only been answering one or two of the four questions throughout your daily life, or if you have been answering them from more of an egocentric mindset rather than a holistic or spiritually rooted one. For example, you can be providing the world with a wanted service through your talents and abilities and be able to be paid for it, but if you don’t love what you are doing and why you are doing it, this is likely to create a sense of being unfulfilled.


While the main intention of this article is to help businesses and business leaders appreciate and connect the Ikigai philosophy to the holistic wellness of their business or organization, a large precursor to that premise is being a business or organization that is comprised of individuals who have accepted their own personal reason for being. When an individual’s sense of purpose is able to actively align with and continuously harmonize with the core aims and principles of a business or organization, there is an undeniable level of success and spiritually enriching synergy that occurs for both the individual and the business entity. If you want to be the kind person who enjoys the value and overall wellness that comes from aligning your own sense of purpose with the purpose of the businesses and organizations you work for and with, you are going to want to do the work to actualize that sense of purpose for yourself first. It’s important to understand that if you don’t have a sense of purpose defined for yourself or your business you are most likely only going to align with environments, individuals and other businesses that don’t have an authentic or self-honest appreciation for a sense of their own purpose for being either.


What do you love? What are your passions in life and how do they play a role in your purpose?


An important part of being able to connect to your Ikigai is to be able to realize what you love in life and to be able to appreciate and have a sense of what the emotional experience of love feels like within your mind, body and spirit. That said, it’s important for each individual to understand what they love from a place that is personally defined and spiritually aware. This is love as defined by the Self and not others or by culture and societal norms. Many people, especially in capitalist western society and culture, have a definition of love which has been defined exteriorly and usually refers to only specific and somewhat unhealthy forms of love, such as romance and the necessity for a romantic partner in life for one to feel loved and be whole and content. Within the Ikigai model there is a space and necessity for one to look inside and feel what love means to them so that they can better identify the things they love in life and appreciate the fullness and availability of love as an emotion with a rich spectrum of potential. Once able to identify the more subtle and personal ways that love exists as an emotionally connective and inspiring experience, it becomes easy to identify the ways in which love can regularly be expressed and achieved through the actions and intentions of daily life. This process of self-awareness toward the emotional capacities of love is also about appreciating love as an emotion that is always present within yourself and not as something that needs to be sought by others or from outside sources.


What does the World need? What is something that serves you and others equally which provides for this need?


It’s important to put one’ Self into a more holistic mindset when asking the question ‘what does the world need?’. This is to ensure that you are answering and thinking about this question from a spiritually centered viewpoint and not an egocentric one. This question asks you to first reach inside and identify the more authentic necessities of yourself and others so that you can insightfully approach an understanding of what the world needs from a perspective that is mindful of some of the false needs that may have been defined by an unhealthy ego development. The egocentric ideas of what the world needs are usually materialistically minded or have to do with an individual thinking that they know the right way to implement control over others to make the world a better place. When the holistic minded self answers this question, from a place of spiritually rooted awareness, the answer becomes about understanding that the only thing you ever truly have control over is yourself and that the authentic needs of others are our usually your needs as well. From this understanding you are able to more easily align with spaces, environments and actions that provide you with what your genuine needs are from life by providing others with what they truly need or authentically desire.


What can you be paid for? What feels like a way you would enjoy earning an income?


A lot people spend a large portion of their lives trying to figure out what they can get paid most for or what they can pursue in life that will make them most ‘valuable’ within a job marketplace from an income perspective. There is often little consideration given to the understanding that it is a far more important and worthwhile endeavor to figure out what you genuinely love doing, what the world’s most authentic needs are and how you can combine those things in a way that you enjoy while getting paid for them. Being able to own and define your own self-worth by accepting the wealth and worthiness of what it is you enjoy being able to be make an income from is what will actually provide you with a genuine sense of success that can be appreciated by the whole self (mind, body and spirit). Take some time and think about some of the moments in your life where you have decided to choose income over a connection to purpose. How has this decision played out for you over time? What are some moments when you have chosen to pursue your purpose and let go of feeling like your salary defines your worth or is a determining factor in major life choices? I hope each reader leaves this article with the understanding that the only being who can truly define and establish your or your works worth is yourself.


The Ikigai philosophy focuses on the concept of creating an ability to access and experience your ‘flow-state’ or ‘bliss’ more easily and focuses on this as the desired result of life experience. In this way there is an underlying understanding that you should intend to follow your most natural instincts and abilities within areas of interest and pursuits of education and self-development. This means picking a career path and lifestyle that allows you to create and express skills and abilities that feel most fulfilling to you and that allow you to have healthy emotional experiences within yourself as a result of expressing those skills and abilities. Spend some time connecting to what you believe is your most natural gifts and talents and ask yourself how they can become embodied through you in a way that feels most effortless & enjoyable.


Incongruence & Ikigai: Understanding How to Balance the Mind, Body & Spirit of Business


Just as it’s important to cultivate and connect with an authentic sense of purpose for the total health and wellness of the individual; it is also just as important for a business or organizational entity to develop and intentionally embody a sense of purpose for the business in a healthy and holistically sustainable way. It is valuable to realize that businesses and organizations have an ego and a self (mind, body, spirit) all their own in an analogous sense to the way that you do as an individual. For example, in the same way that a person can have an unhealthy purpose or identity a business could have an unhealthy and(or) incongruent brand identity and unhealthy purpose. This type of business is only interested in and driven by revenue or the daily demands and interests of the individuals who oversee the business or organization without clear or connective communications about a deeper sense of purposefulness behind work assignments. When an individual or business exists in this sort of state of incongruence or is driven by an unhealthy objective, it creates an imbalance that doesn’t allow for the free-flowing nature of energy which is required for a true flow-state to be attained: the flow state of a realized Ikigai. This sort of incongruence exists most often through things like business slogans or marketing themes which create a ‘sellable’ image or identity for the company that is not genuinely aligned with or embodied by the daily actions, values, behaviors, and pursuits of the company.


A more specific example of this would be a plastic bottled water company which utilizes imagery that makes it seem as though they are ecologically friendly, ‘natural’ and interested in providing health and wellness through their product and the way they do business. I give this example with an appreciation that most readers will have an understanding that the underlying actions and needs of manufacturing and selling a product like plastic bottled water is clearly proven to be harmful to the planet, nature, and humanity. Regardless of this fact, there are many bottled water companies using this exact model of incongruent brand identity in the hopes that their marketing will fulfill the purpose of convincing consumers to buy their product and up revenue. As a holistic business consultant and advisor, I would not find it surprising that the results of an initial workplace wellness assessment point to most of that businesses’ employees being either unaware of a more genuine sense of purpose for the business or that the only purpose they are aware of and driven by is to up revenue potentials. This sort of holistically unhealthy and inauthentically sourced motivation creates space for imbalance at an organizational level which is always a major factor in whether the business as a whole is able to appreciate and experience a sense of Ikigai or flow-state. Why? Because the company is asking for each of its members to describe, sell and embody a dishonest or insincere product or service to the world. It is impossible for the individuals within the business and, therefore the business itself to have a sense of fulfillment under these circumstances. When the level of incongruence between the true nature of something, its sense of purpose and the identity that it is trying to sell the world are so misaligned there is automatically a sense of misalignment within the individuals who are being asked to embody the spirit of the business or organization they work for on a daily basis.


Taking the Steps to Ikigai and Identifying Incongruence: Self-Guided Questions for Business Leaders/ Owners

  • Does the business/ organization actively embody a set of belief systems that align with authentic objectives?

  • What are some ways that the company ‘thinks’ differently than it ‘speaks’ and(or) ‘speaks’ differently than it acts? Example: The purpose, mission, brand image, brand identity, company actions and objectives don’t align.

  • What are the ‘heart’ and ‘heartbeat’ of the business/ organization? In what ways do your answers to these questions play a role or hold a presence in the purpose and motivation of the business/ organization?

  • What are some of the areas of your business/ organization that could be more heart led or heart minded?

  • What areas of your business/ organization feel imbalanced because they don’t make enough room for more holistic mindsets and thoughts? Areas which think too much from the head (rational, logical, objective, analytic) and not enough from the heart (intuitive, wise, insightful, collaborative) or the gut (instinctual, sensory, physical, primal)

  • Do other leaders and influential members of your business/ organization have an open mind, acceptance, and willingness to acknowledge the presence of a mind, body, and spirit as elements of the business/ organization?

  • What areas of the business/ organization have the best ‘flow’ presently: meaning what areas have the most sustainable levels of success? And what is helping to create and sustain that flow or understanding of success?

  • What areas of the business/ organization have the most resistance or struggle the most with assigned objectives and goals? What seems to be contributing most to this resistance? What can be changed to create better flow/ synergy?

  • What areas of the business are the least successful from your perspective? What factors and belief systems exist within the business/ organization which are defining these understandings of success or lack of success?

How can the business/ organization evolve the definition of success to include an awareness and appreciation for how successful or unsuccessful these departments and teams are in a way that utilizes the Ikigai Model?


Examples:

  • How can this department or team have more love present?

  • How can we redefine the purpose or objective of this area of the business/organization to feel more connective for the individuals who work within and for it?

  • What is this part of the business/organization intended to provide for the business/ organization as a whole?

  • Is this a genuine and authentic need of the business/ organization and customers/ clientele; if not, how can it be adapted for a more genuine need or purpose?

  • What role or purpose does this part of the business/ organization play in what the business/organization is selling or providing to the world and hoping to get paid for?

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Mira Taylor, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Mira Taylor is an Integrative Therapist, Subconscious Medium & Organizational Wellness Consultant who focuses on guiding clientele toward total wellness by combining concepts of psychology, spirituality, philosophy, and sustainable life practices. Mira is a member of the International Association of Therapists and master certified in Modern Applied Psychology, Cognitive Remodeling Therapy, Subconscious Integration Therapy, Mind-Body-Spirit Wellness, Wellness Linguistics, and Archetypal Psychology.


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